When considering higher studies abroad, financing your education may be one of the first concerns that come to your mind. The cost of an education at a top institute abroad can be a deterrent for students. However, with proper planning and information, hopefully no aspirant will face this predicament and have to compromise on their plans to study aboard. There are multiple types of scholarships available for international students based on different eligibility criteria. They can also be sponsored by a broad range of institutions from universities, the government and private organisations. Here’s a few tips to guide you about scholarships for studying abroad:
- Start early: Applying for a scholarship needs a great deal of groundwork starting with researching the broad range of options, identifying the most appropriate choices, preparing a convincing application and much more! The sooner you start, the better you’ll manage the work load and avoid any last-minute panic situations. We recommend you start at least 3-4 years prior to applying.
- Do your research: Every institution will have its own set of norms and conditions regarding grants and awards. They could be merit-based, need based, subject based, nationality based etc. Consider where you realistically fit in before finalizing your options. One of the best sources of financial aid can be the college you attend, so make sure you thoroughly explore the options they have available and how you can sign up for it.
- Read the fine print: Have a clear understanding of what the scholarship guidelines entail. For example, if I win the scholarship do I need to maintain a minimum GPA. Or does the scholarship only fund tuition or will it cover all expenses associated with study abroad. Are you expected to return back to India after completing the program? Make sure you read the fine print!
- Polish your writing skills: An exceptionally well written essay will convey the calibre of the writer. Aim to make your write-up near perfect so that you become a natural choice of the scholarship committee. Practice writing every day, focus on your content, argument, organization of ideas, structure and above all grammatical accuracy.
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- Merit-based: Are you exceptionally meritorious in studies or blessed with the voice of a nightingale? In either case, you are a strong competitor for the scholarship of excellence that recognises students with rare talent in academics as well as non-scholastic areas like music, sports, painting, leadership skills etc. A merit based scholarship not only helps you finance your education but also adds an incredible amount of value to your academic and career profile. Some distinguished scholarships under this category are: Fullbright Foreign Student Program (USA): It’s one of the most prestigious scholarships in the field of higher education and research. Only superlative candidates are eligible to apply and enjoy the benefits. The scholarship is awarded to international applicants from various walks of life; you can be a graduate student, a working professional or an artist. The allowance would cover expenses related to tuition, books, travel etc. for the entire tenure of your study. The Fullbright-Nehru Awards are conferred to accomplished academics, professionals and talented students in India to study, research and teach in the US. If you are applying for this award, brace yourself for a rigorous application and interview process. Once you qualify the rounds and get selected, the organisation helps you through and through with visa application, obtaining health insurance and a pre-departure orientation. The Rhodes Scholarship (UK): Under the program of the Rhodes Scholarship of India, the Rhodes authority offer 5 scholarships to high-calibre students from India chosen on the basis of “exceptional intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service” who would be eligible to pursue further education at the eminent University of Oxford. The grant includes tuition, personal stipend and airfare to Oxford at the beginning of the term and back to your home country at the end of the term.
- Need based scholarships: It’s a boon for those in need of financial aid and there are a host of top universities that offer financial help to students, in the league are Harvard, Yale, MIT, Princeton to list a few. There are also several private organizations in collaboration with multinational companies that are providing financial support to students of any nationality aspiring for international education. To illustrate: Harvard has its financial aid program named the ‘Harvard Financial Aid Initiative’ which caters to the financial deficiency of low and middle income group of students. International students receive the same amount of aid as a US students. You have to apply for financial aid with your demonstrated need and family income details for the committee to review. Harvard assures students of a need blind admission procedure and financial support throughout the year. Davis United World Colleges Scholars Program: All graduates of United World Colleges (UWC) schools who gain admission on their own merits to selected U.S. colleges or universities qualify for need-based scholarship support through the program. The program currently supports over 2,700 scholars at 94 partner colleges and universities throughout the United States. Stanford Graduate School of Business has the Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship Program “to support Indian nationals living in India who need financial assistance in obtaining an MBA at Stanford.”
Eminent institutions abroad are taking major initiatives to democratize education by recognizing talented students irrespective of their financial status or nationality. However, students must demonstrate excellence to be considered for need based scholarships.
- Government of India facilitated International scholarships: do you know many countries invite Indian students to study in their institutions by offering scholarships? Invitations are sent through the Indian government under Cultural/Educational Exchange programs. The Government advertises the scholarship offers through newspapers, the website of the department of higher education as well as notifies colleges, universities, UGC through circulars. So, keep a tab of the latest updates about the scholarships by checking out the relevant sources.
- The Commonwealth Scholarship (UK): You’ll be excited to learn that it is fully government funded. The grant covers tuition, travel, living cost including spouse and children allowances. The scholarship is awarded in the fields of Engineering and Technology, Science, Agriculture, Humanities and Social Science. That covers almost every field!
- Other countries that offer scholarships on this platform are Commonwealth scholarship by New Zealand, China, Japan, Italy, Mexico and the Presidential Scholarship offered by Sri Lanka.
- Program/Subject specific scholarships: Students can also probe into options for their specific subject or degree of interest. For instance, if you are eying international law for study abroad, good news for you. The AVVO Scholarship program offers scholarships for JD Law students as well as pre-Law and undergraduate students. Science students be amped up about participating in the Global Science Course (GSC) Undergraduate Transfer Program. The School of Science Scholarship sponsored by Tokyo University is an attempt to bring young science lovers on one platform to harbour great interactions and exchange of ideas. Likewise, many more subject/program specific scholarships are available that help students to advance their education in the subject field.
The number of scholarships today for international students is baffling. Approach your selection process keeping in mind what your strengths are, which subject is your forte, and what goals you want to achieve. Review every detail from eligibility to the fund amount, and only after you’ve done your due diligence, apply for the scholarship.
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