World Education Services
For international students wanting to study in the United States, there are many financial aid opportunities available. Students can look for funding from nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and colleges and universities. Students should begin searching and applying for scholarships as early as possible.
What Types of Scholarships are Available?
The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website defines a few of the different types of scholarships. Merit-based scholarships are awarded for meeting certain academic standards or a combination of academic accomplishments and a special interest or talent. Others are given primarily based on financial need, and some are geared toward certain populations, such as minorities. Merit-based scholarships are the most common type of application for international students.
Applying to Schools and Scholarships at the Same Time
In most cases, your scholarship application is submitted along with your admissions application. On the application form, there is a section asking if you would like to apply for the school’s scholarships as well. By clicking yes, you opt-into the school’s scholarship application system automatically.
Although there is no additional documentation needed when you submit your application, you may be asked to also submit an essay that states the purpose of your application. You can tailor your essay depending on the type of scholarship you are applying for.
It’s important to note that schools have a certain budget amount allocated for scholarship funding to distribute each year. Schools tend to be more generous in the early stage of the admissions season. By applying earlier in the process, you increase your chances to be considered as a proper candidate. So make sure you apply early before all the scholarships are granted to other candidates.
How do Scholarship Committees Select Candidates?
There are a number of criteria that scholarship committees take into consideration; these include above average test scores—including your GPA, GRE/GMAT, and, for candidates who speak English as a second language, TOEFL/IETLS. The main purpose of scholarships is to reward the top-tier students, so good scores weigh heavily in your favor.
Each university has different requirements for scholarship applicants, but usually, a 3.0–4.0 GPA, 700 GMAT, and 100 TOEFL iBT are the minimum standards. The language test score is important for international students because many scholarship winners will be assigned to some on-campus work, such as teaching assistant (TA) or research assistant (RA) positions, which require excellent English communication skills.
Another important selection criterion is solid practical experience; this can include research projects, academic papers, and internships. For most graduate school applicants, a good research background is reliable evidence that you are capable of assisting with research projects.
Additionally, if you have a paper published in an international magazine, it’s a great recognition of your academic achievements. For some majors, such as business and engineering, an internship is a great bonus for your scholarship application. All in all, if you can present all your advantages in your personal statement, you increase your chances.
Although U.S. institutions have strict requirements for applicants’ scores and soft skills, the admission decision varies depending on majors and degree plans as well. For the popular majors where hundreds of applicants are competing for a handful of offers, the scholarship requirements are respectively high as well.
And, because finishing a Ph.D. requires a lot of time and effort to achieve, schools allocate a larger portion of scholarships to attract qualified candidates. For U.S. Ph.D. candidates, a tuition waiver is granted in many situations. Although it’s easier to get admitted for a master’s degree, there are fewer scholarship opportunities.
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