Studying in the United States is a dream for many students around the world, but it can also be very expensive. The average tuition fee for a four-year undergraduate program at a public university is about $10,000 per year for in-state students and $26,000 for out-of-state students.
For a graduate program, the average cost is about $20,000 per year. Add to that the expenses for accommodation, food, books, transportation, and other living costs, and you can see why many students need financial assistance to pursue their education in the US.
Fortunately, there are many scholarships available for international students who want to study in the US for free or at a reduced cost. Scholarships are awards that do not have to be repaid and are usually based on academic merit, financial need, or other criteria.
They can cover part or all of your tuition fees, as well as your living expenses, depending on the type and amount of the scholarship.
In this article, we will explore some of the best ways to find and apply for scholarships to study in the US for free. We will also provide some tips and resources to help you increase your chances of winning a scholarship and achieving your academic goals.
Types of Scholarships to Study in the US
There are three main types of scholarships that you can apply for as an international student who wants to study in the US:
- University scholarships: These are scholarships offered by the universities or colleges themselves to attract and support talented students. They can be either partial or full scholarships, and they may have different eligibility requirements and application processes depending on the institution. Some examples of university scholarships are:
- The Harvard University Scholarships for international students, which cover full tuition and health fees, as well as a stipend for living expenses.
- The New York University Scholarships for international students, which offer partial or full tuition waivers based on academic merit and financial need.
- The University of California Berkeley Scholarships for international students, which provide various awards ranging from $2,000 to $20,000 per year based on academic excellence and leadership potential.
- Government scholarships: These are scholarships funded by the US government or other governments around the world to promote cultural exchange and international cooperation. They usually cover full tuition and living expenses, as well as travel costs and other benefits. Some examples of government scholarships are:
- The Fulbright Program, which is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the US government. It offers grants for graduate studies, research, teaching, and professional development in various fields.
- The Global Ugrad Program, which is a short-term exchange program that provides undergraduate students from around the world with an opportunity to study at a US college or university for one semester or academic year.
- The Chevening Scholarships, which are funded by the UK government and enable outstanding emerging leaders from all over the world to pursue one-year master’s degrees in any subject at any UK university.
- Private scholarships: These are scholarships offered by private organizations, foundations, corporations, or individuals to support specific causes or groups of students. They can have various criteria and amounts, and they may be more competitive than other types of scholarships. Some examples of private scholarships are:
- The Coca-Cola Scholars Program, which awards 150 high school seniors each year with $20,000 scholarships to attend any accredited US college or university.
- The Gates Millennium Scholars Program, which provides full scholarships to 1,000 outstanding minority students each year to pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in any discipline at any US institution.
- The Rotary Foundation Scholarships, which support students who want to study abroad in one of six areas of focus: peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.
How to Find Scholarships to Study in the US
There are many resources available to find scholarships to study in the US for free or at a low cost. Some of them are:
- Scholarship search engines: These are online platforms that allow you to search for thousands of scholarships based on your profile, preferences, and goals. You can filter your results by keyword, amount, deadline, level of study, field of study, country of origin, country of destination, and more. Some of the best scholarship search engines are:
- Scholarships.com, which has a database of over 3.7 million scholarships worth over $19 billion.
- Fastweb, which matches you with over 1.5 million scholarships worth over $3.4 billion.
- College Board, which provides access to over 2,200 scholarships worth over $6 billion.
- University and college websites: These are the official websites of the institutions that you are interested in applying to. They usually have a section dedicated to scholarships and financial aid, where you can find information about the types, amounts, requirements, and deadlines of the scholarships they offer. You can also contact the admission office or the international student office of the institution for more details and guidance.
- Government websites: These are the websites of the US government or other governments that offer scholarships for international students. They usually have a section dedicated to education and exchange programs, where you can find information about the eligibility, application process, benefits, and obligations of the scholarships they offer. You can also contact the embassy or consulate of the country that sponsors the scholarship for more information and assistance.
- Private scholarship providers: These are the websites of the organizations, foundations, corporations, or individuals that offer scholarships for specific causes or groups of students. They usually have a section dedicated to their scholarship programs, where you can find information about the mission, vision, values, criteria, and application process of the scholarships they offer. You can also contact the scholarship provider directly for more information and support.
How to Apply for Scholarships to Study in the US
Once you have found some scholarships that match your profile and goals, you need to prepare and submit your application before the deadline. The application process may vary depending on the type and source of the scholarship, but it usually involves some or all of the following steps:
- Check the eligibility requirements: Before you apply for any scholarship, make sure you meet all the eligibility criteria, such as your nationality, age, academic level, academic performance, field of study, language proficiency, etc. If you are not eligible for a scholarship, do not waste your time and energy applying for it.
- Gather the required documents: Depending on the scholarship, you may need to provide some or all of the following documents as part of your application:
- A completed application form
- A copy of your passport or ID card
- A copy of your academic transcripts and diplomas
- A copy of your standardized test scores (such as SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, etc.)
- A copy of your resume or CV
- A personal statement or essay
- A letter of motivation or statement of purpose
- Letters of recommendation from teachers, professors, mentors, employers, etc.
- A portfolio or sample of your work (if applicable)
- Proof of financial need (if applicable)
- Write a compelling application: Your application is your chance to showcase your achievements, skills, interests, goals, and personality to the scholarship committee. You need to make sure that your application is clear, concise, coherent, and convincing. Here are some tips to help you write a winning application:
- Follow the instructions carefully: Read and follow the instructions given by the scholarship provider regarding the format, length, content, and submission method of your application. Do not exceed the word limit or miss any required sections.
- Tailor your application to each scholarship: Do not use a generic or copy-pasted application for different scholarships. Customize your application to each scholarship by highlighting how you fit their criteria and how their scholarship will help you achieve your goals.
- Be honest and authentic: Do not lie or exaggerate about your achievements or experiences. Be yourself and show your genuine passion and enthusiasm for your chosen field of study and career path.
- Be specific and concrete: Do not use vague or general statements that could apply to anyone. Use specific examples and evidence to support your claims and demonstrate your abilities and potential.
- Be positive and optimistic: Do not focus on your weaknesses or challenges. Focus on your strengths and opportunities. Show how you have overcome obstacles and learned from failures. Express gratitude and appreciation for the scholarship opportunity.
- Proofread and edit your application: Before you submit your application, check it for any spelling, grammar, punctuation, or formatting errors. Ask someone else to read it and give you feedback. Make sure your application is polished and professional.
- Submit your application on time: Do not wait until the last minute to submit your application. Plan ahead and give yourself enough time to complete and review your application. Submit your application before or by the deadline specified by the scholarship provider. Keep a copy of your application for future reference.
How to Increase Your Chances of Winning a Scholarship to Study in the US
Applying for scholarships is a competitive process that requires hard work and dedication. However, there are some strategies that can help you increase your chances of winning a scholarship to study in the US for free or at a low cost. Here are some tips to help you stand out from the crowd:
- Start early: The earlier you start looking for scholarships, the more options you will have. Start researching and applying for scholarships at least one year before you plan to start your studies in the US. This will give you enough time to prepare your application materials, take the required tests, and meet the deadlines.
- Apply for multiple scholarships: The more scholarships you apply for, the higher your chances of winning one or more of them. Do not limit yourself to one or two scholarships that you think are perfect for you. Apply for as many scholarships as you can that match your profile and goals. However, do not apply for scholarships that you are not eligible for or interested in.
- Choose the right scholarships: While applying for multiple scholarships is a good strategy, you also need to be selective and smart about the scholarships you choose. Do not waste your time and energy on scholarships that are too competitive, too obscure, or too irrelevant to your field of study and career path. Choose the scholarships that suit your qualifications, interests, and aspirations.
- Prepare a strong application: Your application is your key to winning a scholarship. You need to make sure that your application is well-written, well-organized, well-presented, and well-supported. You need to showcase your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, leadership skills, community involvement, personal qualities, and future plans. You need to demonstrate why you deserve the scholarship and how it will benefit you and others.
- Seek feedback and guidance: Applying for scholarships can be a challenging and stressful process. You may need some help and advice from others who have more experience or knowledge about the process. You can seek feedback and guidance from your teachers, professors, mentors, counselors, friends, family, or online communities. They can help you find scholarships, review your application, provide recommendations, or offer moral support.
- Be confident and persistent: Applying for scholarships requires a lot of confidence and persistence. You may face some rejections or failures along the way, but do not let them discourage you or stop you from pursuing your dreams. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Learn from your mistakes and improve your application. Keep applying until you find the scholarship that is right for you.
Studying in the US can be a rewarding and life-changing experience for many students around the world. However, it can also be very costly and unaffordable for many students who need financial assistance to pursue their education in the US.
Fortunately, there are many scholarships available for international students who want to study in the US for free or at a low cost. Scholarships are awards that do not have to be repaid and are usually based on academic merit, financial need, or other criteria.
In this article, we have discussed some of the best ways to find and apply for scholarships to study in the US for free. We have also provided some tips and resources to help you increase your chances of winning a scholarship and achieving your academic goals.
We hope this article has been helpful and informative for you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them with us. We wish you all the best in your scholarship search and application process.
Good luck! 🍀