How to Apply for Scholarships for International Students

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Getting a scholarship as an international student is tough since many scholarships are limited to only citizens of the United States or even residents of a particular state or city. Also adding to the burden of college expenses is the fact that international students can't receive any type of federal assistance from the United States government like traditional U.S. students get when they receive a grant or loan.

  • Meet with a financial aid adviser at your college. Advisers in the department often know of scholarships or additional funding options for international students.

  • Contact the international office on your campus. Specializing in providing assistance to international students is the job of the international student office. They are an advocate solely for international students and can provide assistance in finding and applying for scholarships pertaining exclusively to them.

  • Check out the International Education and Financial Aid website. It lists a number of scholarships and financial aid options that exist for international students. The website maintains a searchable database, making it easy for international students to find scholarships that apply to their backgrounds and their chosen career fields.

  • Ask your financial aid office if work study is available to you. While not technically a scholarship, work study does provide a way to earn money through an on-campus job.

  • Find international scholarships through state and national associations in your career field. For example, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers has a specific scholarship available just for international students in an effort to promote engineering as a career choice around the world.

  • Work with an adviser to complete scholarship applications if a language barrier exists. As an international student you want to put your best foot forward when you submit an application for a scholarship. If English is not your first language, ask an adviser, mentor or friend to help you complete the applications to ensure you get fair consideration from the committee deciding the scholarship recipient.

Tips & Warnings

  • A few international students may qualify for financial aid from the U.S. government if they meet the criteria of a noncitizen. Students interested in seeing if they fit this category should contact their campus financial aid or international office.
  • International students seeking scholarships to study in the United States should apply early, since many institutions require payment for an entire semester or year in advance before completing the paperwork necessary to grant the student entry into the country.
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