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HT Education Correspondent, January 08, 2014
Candidates must look into and start applying for scholarships when planning to go to the US for higher studies, which is an ongoing process since deadlines and criteria vary. The timeline for acceptance into a school will depend on the type of admission you are applying for (early action, early decision, rolling, etc.), but if you are applying for regular admission, acceptance letters are usually sent out in March or April, after which you need to decide which school you will be attending.

Subsequently, you will be required to do the needful when it comes to accepting an offer and notifying the rest of the colleges to which you applied that you will not be attending.

Sending your latest school transcripts and test scores to the colleges that you’ve applied to is also necessary.

“Work on obtaining transfer credits. The earlier you plan, the easier it will be, as you would have taken the right AP classes, pre-college courses, etc. in order for you to be awarded transfer credits that will add value to your major in the immediate future. You should start applying for these a month or two before you depart. Also start registering for classes when registration opens up so that you can be sure to get the classes that you want and need,” says Nina Merchant, a Mumbai-based academic counsellor.

The College-Level Examination Programme (CLEP) gives you the opportunity to save up to an academic year of study by earning college or university credit for work you have already done.

Students must also understand the difference between a scholarship and financial aid. A scholarship is a grant of funding, which may take the form of a waiver of tuition and/or fees. This merit-based aid depends on your achievement in a particular area; for example, outstanding academic performance, special talent in sports or performing arts, community service or leadership.

A financial aid, on the other hand, is a general term that includes all types of funding, loans, and work/study programmes offered to a student to help pay tuition, fees, and living expenses.

This need-based aid looks at the student’s financial need, as documented by family income, assets, and other factors.

The United States India Education Foundation (USIEF) offers a wide range of exchange opportunities to Indian citizens in three main categories: Student awards to pursue a master’s degree or attend a US university as a visiting student researcher; scholars and teacher awards for academics, teachers and professionals to teach or conduct research in the US, and professional development programmes for leadership and skill development.

Besides providing opportunities for personal, academic and professional growth, Fulbright-Nehru and other exchanges promote mutual understanding between the people of the US and India.

Students can apply for scholarships, too, which include the undergraduate Tata Scholarship at Cornell University which supports around 20 scholars at a time; the Brandeis University merit-and need-based scholarships at the graduate level; and the University of California Berkeley Fellowships at the graduate and post-doctoral levels, among others.