Study abroad dreams are often dropped by students due to the cost associated with the same. What many students are not aware of is that financial aid is, often, facilitated by universities globally through scholarships, waivers, or grants that are bestowed upon applicants based on their eligibility and merit.
There’s a study abroad scholarship for everyone – whether it is based on financial need, merit, specialization, or experience. Top Universities in the world set aside millions of dollars for grants and financial aid in order to help students. Here is a quick Study Abroad Scholarship guide to help you understand the various types of scholarships, which ones to apply for and country wise criteria.
Study Abroad Scholarships: Different types of scholarships, and which one to apply for
Need-based scholarships are those that account for the applicant’s economic status and ability to attend college based on it. The student usually has to provide some proof of financial hardship, post which the university/granting body makes its decision. Usually, there are certain other eligibility requirements to filter candidates, like test scores or the potential to make considerable progress in their relevant field post the degree. Applicants also might need to submit essays or letters of reference that speak to their need for financial assistance.
Merit-based scholarships are for students who can portray a competitive edge. This is driven by their SoFs (stand out factors) wherein they show some exceptional achievement or motivation over the rest of the applicant pool. These are often blind to financial need and only measure the candidate’s viability through their merit. Not only would you require 9-12 years of consistent academic performance or a solid CGPA, but also a holistic profile including extracurricular activities, community involvement, independent/research projects, and demonstrable relevance to the desired degree.
Specialization/student-specific scholarships are a diverse bunch; these range from being based on subject and discipline to identity and membership of the granting body. For example, there are scholarships for women in STEM, or sports/music scholarships that are awarded for an exceptional record in that specific field. These could be either merit or need based, which is why it is worthwhile to explore all eligible options when doing your research.
Experience-based scholarships are usually awarded to a mix of merit and experience – this is primarily applicable to postgraduate students, as the eligibility criteria include mandatory work experience.
Study Abroad Scholarship: Country wise requirements
USA: If you are looking for need-based scholarships, the US is a prime destination. Universities here consider the student holistically, noting the profile and background as complementary to academics. The Fulbright Commission estimates the number of US universities offering financial aid to international students as being over 600 – this is millions of dollars in funding that you should want to get a piece of!
The US is also home to some of the world’s best universities and post-degree career opportunities, with a flexible academic structure that allows for parallel learning and working – this makes it a higher education hot spot. The application process requires scholarship essays in addition to the already-extensive application essays that the candidate would already have to furnish for their degree application. This pays off well, however, as the country is known for providing maximum financial aid to its students.
Canada: Known for its merit-based scholarship offerings, there is a high level of competition for Canadian universities, which value the student’s academic track record above other aspects of their profile. Next to the US, Canada is also one of the world’s leading higher education providers, primarily due to the fact that it not only offers just as much as the US in terms of flexible learning and professional development, but also provides an easier pathway to permanent residency for those looking to further their careers there. Like the US, many colleges automatically consider students for a scholarship at the time of application. Top colleges like York, British Columbia, and Waterloo all have specific funding set aside for international students, based on their merit.
United Kingdom: The diversity of options available in the UK, as well as its student-friendly atmosphere, are a great draw. However, this is complicated by the relatively few scholarships available. Universities here do not provide many in-house scholarships and applications usually happen through external bodies or commissions that fund these grants, like the British Council (Commonwealth), Chevening, or the Rhodes Trust, among others.
Europe: The wealth of universities and degrees/specializations you can opt for make Europe particular inviting for students. There is also the question of gaining access to several countries with one visa. With a low cost of attendance and a higher rate of acceptance, EU is the right geography for students who are self-funded. The drawback here is that scholarships are few and far between, and a challenging job market coupled with language barrier issues may not make it the ideal destination for many Indian students.
Hong Kong & Singapore: While there are only a handful of universities in these geographies that attract Indian students, the availability of professional enrichment via internship and work opportunities makes up for the competitive educational standards that are characteristic of Asian higher learning institutions. Both focus on academic merit when viewing scholarship candidates.
Australia: While there are scholarships offered by the Australian government, public and private education providers, and other organizations in Australia, these are limited and highly sought after. There is also the amount awarded through each scholarship that may only cover tuition fees or part of them, and it is rare to find funding for international students that offers a full ride.
Scholarships – What to keep in mind
If receiving a scholarship award is integral to your study-abroad decision, remember to choose your university accordingly; it may not be your first choice, but it would certainly be the most lucrative. The scholarship application process has to follow a set timeline and would transpire parallel to your degree application, leaving you to coordinate your essays and paperwork simultaneously. Remember to treat each scholarship application individually, as you will need to highlight those parts of your profile that closely match the scholarship’s intended benefits.
Preparing well in advance is key – you will need to think over how you fulfil each criterion of the scholarship application. There is a plethora of opportunities out there, and universities truly do want to invest in those they believe can go on to achieve excellence.
About the Author: Adarsh Khandelwal, Co-Founder, Collegify has over a decade of experience, and has successfully mentored over 5,000 students, guiding them on the journey towards their desired international undergraduate and postgraduate admissions and scholarships. In 2018, Adarsh received the Stanford Teacher Tribute for excellent teaching & contribution in the education space.
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