Scholarships for International Students

September 20, 2021

Scholarships for International Students

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International Scholarships

More than one million international students study at U.S. colleges and universities annually, according to the Institute of International Education. These learners pursue academic programs of all types and contribute over $44.7 billion to the country’s economy. 

American education draws learners from around the world, but paying tuition for international students rarely comes cheap. Fortunately, many schools and other organizations offer scholarships specifically for international students.

This guide highlights several popular international scholarships, along with other sources of student aid for international students, such as fellowships.

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Frequently Asked Questions: Financial Aid for International Students

true Q. As an international student, can I receive financial aid from the U.S. government?

While most international students cannot receive U.S. financial aid, they may be eligible in certain situations. Many colleges may still ask international students to complete the FAFSA.

true Q. Are tuition costs different for international students than for U.S.-based students?

International students generally pay more in tuition than U.S. citizens. However, tuition rates vary widely among public and private colleges.

true Q. Will I have to meet an English language requirement to enroll in a U.S. college?

Most colleges require non-native English speakers to complete the TOEFL exam, which demonstrates English proficiency. Colleges may also require standard U.S. exams such as the SAT, ACT, or GRE.

true Q. Can international students apply for scholarships at U.S. colleges and universities?

Many U.S. institutions offer scholarships for international students, but applicants should read scholarship requirements carefully to ensure they qualify to receive aid.

true Q. How can international students find scholarships?

This guide offers information on several scholarships for international students. Applicants should research additional opportunities related to their demographic, academic major, and college.

true Q. How can international students find other financial aid?

College financial aid advisors and international student organizations can help applicants research financial aid for international students. Our international students' guide to pay for college provides helpful information.

true Q. What other resources are available for international students?

International students can explore many educational and financial resources. Our guide explains how international students can pay for college.

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Scholarships for International Students

The Foreign Fulbright Student Program offers around 4,000 annual scholarships for international students to attend college and conduct research in the United States. Eligibility and application requirements vary by country. Serving students from Tunisia, the Thomas Jefferson Scholarship Program facilitates study-abroad opportunities in the United States. Students attend a one-year academic program at a U.S. college while also performing community service activities and participating in internship opportunities. These grants offer financial aid for international students from low-income, lower-middle-income, and upper-middle-income countries (as designated by the World Bank). Applicants must be female, at least age 25, and enrolled at a college in the United States or Canada. The International Peace Scholarship Fund offers scholarships for international students up to $12,500. Applicants must be females enrolled full time in a campus program at a U.S. or Candian college with at least one year remaining in their studies. The Society of Exploration Geophysicists offers scholarships for international students ranging from $500-$10,000 per academic year. Applicants must be attending or planning to attend an academic program related to applied geophysics. The AAUW offers this prestigious graduate fellowship for female students who are not permanent U.S. residents. Funding full-time education or research, the fellowship awards $18,000-$30,000 for graduate and postgraduate study. The Crown Prince's International Scholarship Program serves Bahraini students in grade 11/year 12 and awards funding for international college study. Applicants need a cumulative GPA of at least 97% for grade 10/year 11. Dedicated to global leadership for women in business, Zonta International offers scholarships for international students of any age pursuing a business-related college degree. The scholarship awards $2,000-$8,000 to several students.

Scholarships for Specific Institutions

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern University offers merit-based scholarships for international students who rank within the top 10-15% of each year's applicant pool. Scholarship award amounts range from $10,000-$28,000 for the first award year and $5,000-$14,000 per semester for subsequent years. The George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., offers the Thomas Buergenthal Scholarship for all law applicants, including international students. Based on academic merit and financial need, the scholarship covers either full or partial tuition. All law school applicants receive scholarship consideration, with no separate scholarship application required. The University of Arizona in Tucson offers a variety of scholarships for international students, including first-year students, transfer students, and conditionally admitted students. Award amounts vary based on GPA, and the college offers awards for both the fall and spring semesters. Based in Coral Gables, Florida, the University of Miami offers merit scholarships for all incoming first-year students, including international students. Award amounts vary, ranging from $16,000 up to full-tuition awards. Based in Big Rapids, Michigan, Ferris State University offers several scholarships for international students, ranging from $1,500-$10,000 per year. All scholarships consider high school GPA and test scores (including TOEFL scores). The college awards scholarships automatically. Students do not need to complete individual award applications. New York University's School of Professional Studies offers scholarships for international students pursuing a master of science in global affairs. Award amounts range from $7,500-$15,000 annually, with consideration given to GPA, financial need, and academic interests. Applicants must submit multiple short-answer essays.

International Scholarship Hints and Advice from a College Advisor

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of MoonPrep.com. She provides one-on-one tutoring services catered to university admissions and guides students through the entire application process.

What are the best scholarships to pursue for international students interested in attending U.S. colleges?

Colleges want to attract the best and brightest international students. They do this by offering scholarships, which is another word for merit aid. Typically, the most money comes directly from the university. Many colleges offer need-based aid, but merit-based scholarships are open to anyone. Sometimes students are in the running for a merit-based scholarship simply by applying to the university.

What's the best resource for international students to find information about scholarships at U.S. colleges?

The best place is on each college’s website. Third-party sources are not always current.

Which schools offer the most scholarship money for international students?

Private universities are typically the most generous. Small private universities are especially generous since they are competing with big-name schools. International students should not rule out small, private liberal arts colleges.

Also, big-name state schools must accept a certain number of in-state students to receive their state funding, so the bar is raised higher for international students. Private universities do not have to worry about that, so they can accept more international students.

Is the college application process different for international students than for domestic students?

The process is similar. Once international students are accepted, their school issues an F-1 visa for them. That is just the additional step, since the school is essentially sponsoring them to be here.

Any tips or suggestions for submitting compelling essays?

Tell a compelling narrative about your life. You want the school to feel it is your top choice. Tell them why you really want to attend school there, which classes you want to take, and which clubs and organizations you want to join. Explain how you will be active and participate on campus. Show them you have done your research and know the school is a good fit. Tailor your essay to the specific college.

Reese Lopez is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the education field. After earning his BA in English from Evergreen State College, he worked as an English language instructor and tutor before joining Affordable Colleges Online. Reese lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also writes fiction and performs in the local music scene.

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