Scholarships to study abroad: How to find and avail them
When planning to study abroad, the first concern is “How to finance it?”
The tuition fee alone is a big sum. Compounded with travel, boarding and lodging logistics, the daily living costs are unaffordable for most of the students vying for a spot.
A scholarship, if you can get it, can resolve this concern for most lucky students. Of course, luck alone doesn’t have that much to do with it. You just need to research, a lot!
There’s a veritable jungle out there that can confuse you the moment you venture in. Suffice it to say there are a myriad different kinds of scholarships. They can be divided into many different categories:
A scholarship can be either partial - covering part of the tuition fees - or complete, i.e covering the entire tuition fee. There are others, like the Eiffel Excellence Scholarship, which cover travel and living costs too.
Many great universities offer need-blind scholarships to all its students. Places like MIT, for instance can finance up to 100% of your tuition and in fact over 90% of students do receive some kind of financial aid. Other good universities also allow you to reduce your expenses to the tune of 40-50% through various aid mechanisms and need-based scholarships. Often the successful recipients of financial aid are persistent individuals who are able to convincingly demonstrate their financial need through the first semester/ year of their education. All of this holds true for tier-1 universities and does not apply in entirety for lower rung universities. So, the bottom-line is simple enough - getting into a top-rung university is difficult. Once inside, usually you are able to find your way through.
Scholarships can be divided into many categories:
While you can find many university specific scholarships, and they are always available to you, the focus before coming to the school should be to find external scholarships (many of them from your own country of origin, for instance The J N Tata Scholarship, and many more like:
* Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation Scholarship
* Fulbright Nehru Research Scholarship
* Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Programme
* Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowships for Indian Students
* Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship
* American University Emerging Global Leader Scholarship
* Tata Scholarships for Cornell University
Scholarships are awarded on the basis of many different factors. Some of them are:
A need-based scholarship is exactly what it sounds like. It is awarded to students who establish a financial need. Students qualify for need-based scholarships based on their family’s income. It is of course conditional to the admission of the student, so grades and test scores need to be taken seriously. These scholarships need to be applied for separately along with supporting documents.
Merit based scholarships are financial awards that students receive based on their academic success in high school. Merit based scholarships are not only limited to a student’s grades but also consider other factors such as leadership roles, ACT and/or SAT scores, extracurricular activities, and school or community involvement. These are usually awarded by the school or college and do not require an extra application.
University specific scholarships are awarded by the university itself, and the application information and details are all available on the college website. These are financial awards made towards complete or part of the tuition fees.
Ethnicity specific scholarships are targeted towards increasing the diversity of a class. These also help build up communities that are at the weaker section of society even in their countries of origin. You can find these easily on the college website. Application to the scholarship is done at the same time as admission application.
There are also some scholarships based on race, ethnicity, for students who come from a background of extreme hardship, women, women of a certain race.
Another thing to remember is that the US however has limited options for scholarships. in general scholarships are more ‘available’ for universities on the East Coast of the US and not so much for the ‘West Coast.’ Only need blind college will offer a complete scholarship or one of the top eight HYPSM. What you can do is try to reduce the cost of your education by taking up a TAship (Teaching Assistant) and RAship (Research Assistant), but this is only relevant for Master’s courses.
How to find the right scholarship:
Finding the right scholarship takes a lot of research, and it is not always entirely successful. This however should not stop a student from making an effort. Two of the best places to start are the college website, and Indian scholarships. It does get easier with time as you learn the ropes and understand the process of applying for and writing essays for a scholarship selection.
(Author Abhishek Singhal is Co-Founder, UnivAdmitHelp. Views expressed here are personal.)