How to apply for scholarships for studying abroad | Application tips inside!

Studying abroad may sound too expensive for you to afford, but that’s a common misconception. There are thousands of scholarships for studying abroad that are just waiting for you! All you have to do is know about how to apply for scholarships.

If you’re thinking of going abroad for your higher education, there are a lot of factors you need to consider. Here at iSchoolConnect, we want to help you understand everything about the confusing process of getting a scholarship for studying abroad. Trust us, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. You just need to be familiar with the process. Without further ado, let’s take a look at how to apply for scholarships abroad so you can begin your higher education journey sooner rather than later.

What are study abroad scholarships?

A scholarship for studying abroad is a monetary award that’s given to students who prove their worth. The amount of money granted by the scholarship is to be used to pay tuition expenses, course books, additional expenses such as air travel, and accommodations once you’re there.

Some scholarships require students to apply for them separately, while others don’t require an additional application. Some are also competitive, while others are underutilized. Either way, there’s always a process involved and you’ll need as much knowledge and help as you can get.

Types of scholarships for studying abroad

Students looking for different types of scholarships for masters abroad
Each scholarship category has specifications for its applicants. So, choose your scholarships wisely!

There are many different types of scholarships for studying abroad. Let’s take a look at each of them:

  • Merit-based: This kind of scholarship is based on the student’s academic, athletic or artistic abilities, among others. These qualities are featured as extracurricular activities and they can vary depending on the scholarship.
  • Country of origin-specific: These scholarships are awarded to students who plan to attend a study abroad program in a specific country. They’re awarded based on motivation to study in that country and you have to check with government-sponsored education websites or student bodies to find which ones are available.
  • Special backgrounds: These scholarships are awarded on the basis of race, religion, gender, and medical history. The objective of this kind of scholarship is to promote equality and the most common awards are minority scholarships.
  • Subject-based: These scholarships are awarded by government institutions or colleges based on a student’s particular major or field of study. They require the applicant to enroll in subject-specific courses while they’re abroad, and eligibility can vary greatly.
  • Program-specific: This kind of scholarship is awarded based on personal and academic achievements and they’re offered by colleges and universities. Eligibility and qualifications may vary according to the scholarship.

Who provides scholarships?

University abroad giving scholarship to a student
Organizations such as schools, colleges, businesses, non-profit groups, etc. provide scholarships to international students

Scholarships are provided by a wide range of sources, including schools, colleges, businesses, non-profit groups, individuals, and government organizations, among others. Every scholarship is unique and it can cover from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and every little bit helps when you’re a student abroad. Privately funded scholarships will send the money directly to the school so they can cover your expenses, while others will send it directly to you.

 Where to find scholarships for studying abroad?

Boy looking for scholarships for higher education abroad
To find the perfect scholarships, reach out directly to universities or search scholarship databases

There are many different ways to find financial aid for studying abroad. The first place to look would be at your school or your college if you’re already enrolled. If you don’t find any relevant information on your school’s or college’s website, reach out directly to someone about scholarship opportunities for studying abroad.

There are also many websites with scholarship databases that will allow you to find what you’re looking for in no time. Here’s a list of a few:

  1. Scholarships.com
  2. CollegeBoard
  3. FinAid
  4. Federal Student Aid

Do your research and take your time. These databases will help you narrow down your search to a few top scholarships for studying abroad that fit your profile and then you can start your application process. Remember, the more scholarships you apply for, the more money you’ll have to cover your expenses. So research well and make a list of the best scholarships for your education abroad.

How to apply for scholarships for studying abroad?

Girl wondering how to apply for scholarships abroad
While compiling your university application, pay close attention to all your documents such as LOR, essays, SOP, etc.

Not all scholarship applications are the same. Some might require you to be a lot more involved and they will make you jump through hoops, but others are quick and easy. However, they all mostly follow this process. Here’s how to apply for scholarships for studying abroad:

1) Gather your documents

Once you’ve done your research and chosen the country you want to study in and the scholarships you’ll be applying to, it’s time to gather your documents. You will need to do this in advance, so get them ready as soon as you can so you don’t have to worry about it later. Important documents include an academic transcript with the full history of your grades and your financial records. Request this from your current school and all other education institutes you’ve been a part of. Your financial records will depend on how you’re financially supported at the moment. For example, if your parents support you, you’ll need information about their yearly salaries and income. If you’re independent, you need to provide your credit score and information about your income.

2) Make your resume

Your resume is another important document, but this one you’ll have to put together yourself. Now, don’t take this lightly! Your resume needs to highlight your skills and your experience, so you can choose at random what you’ll include. You need to make your CV attractive and true.

Don’t make it more than a page long and include the essentials. Don’t worry if you don’t have a whole bunch of extracurricular activities to include. Scholarship committees are more interested in your passion and commitment to a few things. If you can do it all, great! But if you’ve only focused your attention on one or two things you truly care about, don’t worry about your CV looking poor. On the contrary, put emphasis on the fact that you know what you want and you’ve been pursuing it seriously.

3) Find Your references

This is something you must prepare in advance because it’s very important. If you’re not sure who can write a reference for you, think of teachers and professors you’ve had a strong connection with, previous employers who valued your work, or even friends who can speak on your behalf.

Make sure you tell them what you’re applying for and give them enough time to write a thoughtful reference you can use. Don’t rush this one, or you’ll end up with an unconvincing, dull reference that the reviewers will easily forget.

4) Write a unique essay for each application

 If there’s something you can’t fake or reuse, that’s your personal essay. You want it to be fresh every time. Now, don’t get me wrong, you can take inspiration from the first essay you write, but don’t make it identical. The easiest way to get this done is to break it down to key points. 

At the end of the day, what you want is a well-written, inspiring, personal essay that can express your passions, goals and dreams and how the scholarship will allow you to make that happen. Paint a clear picture, be compelling, and be honest. Draw from your experiences, talk about the things that made you choose your career path, and make sure you follow any rules or prompts they may provide.

Tips to get the scholarships you want

Now that you know how to apply for scholarships, here are some of the best tips to get the scholarships for higher education:

Girl standing beside a jar full of money and giving scholarship application tips
Do everything you can to make sure your profile and university application stands apart from fellow students’

1) Find what makes you stand out

Scholarship providers look through hundreds if not thousands of applications. With this in mind, it’s not shocking that most of the applications are forgotten. To stand out and increase your chances of getting the scholarship, you need to find what makes you special.

Look at it as a marketing campaign. You need to figure out what gives you an advantage and exploit that feature. To do that, start by making a list of the things you’re good at and your strengths. Once you have them, find a way to highlight them in your application. Life experiences will also make you stand out, so think about events or challenges that are relevant to your application and use them as well.

2) Write an incredible essay

If your scholarship application requires a written essay, you need to make sure you approach it from a unique angle. This is another way you can stand out and create interest. If your application provides specific instructions for the essay, follow them but make sure you bring your best writing skills. The way you answer the prompt will make all the difference.

For your essay to be incredible you need to be able to express your passion through storytelling. Before you sit down to write, think about your life experiences and what has brought you to choose your particular career path. Dive deep into your dreams and goals, and express them in a meaningful way. Writing an amazing essay is all about engaging your reader!

3) Reuse your own material

If you’re applying to many scholarships at once, it can be difficult to keep up with all the paperwork. Especially if you’re juggling different responsibilities. What you can do, though, is to see where your applications are similar so you can reuse your own material.

Prepare your main application extremely well, and then, for the rest, see where you can reuse your answers, essays, etc. This way you don’t have to think of new material every time. You can simply draw inspiration from what you already have instead of coming up with new things. Just make them similar, not identical.

4) Consult with other people

Having another set of eyes look at your applications before you send them is vital. Whether you choose a friend, a teacher or a family member, this will allow them to give you feedback. However, it’s better if you consult a professional counselor who holds expertise in studying overseas. Plus, a fresh pair of eyes can fish out any typos and errors you could easily overlook yourself.

Always seek a second opinion; this will improve your applications without too much effort. Just make sure you choose people whose opinions you value. And avoid getting defensive; listen to what they tell you and accept constructive criticism.

5) Don’t wait until the last minute

The last thing you want to do when you’re applying for scholarships for studying abroad is leaving them until the last minute. Time is your friend, so make sure you get a head start as soon as you can. Aspirants can start their scholarship applications as soon as they get their final results. College students, on the other hand, can start applying even a year before the semester they want to study abroad. Prepare accordingly and take advantage of that head start.

6) Plan your letters of recommendation early

Asking for letters of recommendation is probably the most stressful part of the whole process. The last thing you want to do is leave it for the end. Take at least four weeks before the deadline to talk to professors, teachers, counselors, employers, etc, and ask them for a letter of recommendation in advance.

This way they will have enough time to draft a genuine letter of recommendation you can be proud of. Also, make sure you choose the right people. For example, if you want to study a foreign language abroad, ask your French or Spanish teacher instead of, say, your Gym teacher.

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into the process and so, it’s important to know how to apply for scholarships beforehand. However, your process can be successful if you know what you’re doing. We hope this article helped you out. But if you need to know more or if you want extra help, you can always go to iSchoolConnect and contact us!

We have many helpful blogs just like this one on our website. Check out our blogs on Tips for scholarship applicationsColleges most preferred by IndiansTop Computer science universitiesManaging your finances, and so much more.

We at iSchoolConnect are always glad to help with any higher ed-related queries. We post new blogs every week to help you gear up to study abroad and pursue the degree of your dreams.

Rashmi Kango

A writer by day and a reader by night, Rashmi is a quirky cog, in the wheel that is iSchoolConnect. She spends her days writing intriguing and informative articles about all things Higher-Ed.

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