Study Abroad Scholarships

Guide to apply for scholarships


Scholarships for International Students – What You Need to Know!

Many students dream of studying abroad. It’s no secret that an international experience offers students the opportunity to make new friends, participate in an internship, explore a global city, create professional connections, and immerse in a new culture, all while gaining a prestigious education. That’s why students are signing up in droves to take their education abroad.

However, many students falsely believe that studying abroad is too expensive for their budget and don’t know where to start on the scholarship application process in a different country. The good news is that there are plenty of study abroad scholarships for international students who are interested in pursuing a course or a degree abroad. Many universities and other institutions of higher education set goals to recruit a specific number of students from abroad as a way to diversify their student body and enrich the cultural experience of the campus.

That’s why many schools have created scholarships specifically for international students who otherwise may not have been able to afford it. Likewise, many universities also offer their own students the chance to study abroad by offering similar study abroad scholarships. There are also plenty of independent organizations that offer global scholarships to interested students as a way to promote education and international relations. These organizations are often run by former students who have studied abroad themselves and recognize what a fun and enriching experience it can be.

The important thing is that you understand which scholarships are available and which you are eligible to receive. Once you see how much support is available and you apply to receive as many scholarships as possible, all that’s left to do is start deciding where your top study abroad destinations are.

The Cost of Studying Abroad

The cost of studying abroad can vary greatly depending on the length of your studies, the city you choose to study in, and what kind of accommodation you find. Naturally, full study abroad programs are more expensive than just taking a single semester or course abroad. Therefore, it’s important to plan in advance in order to know how much financial support you will need.

There are several factors to consider besides just tuition fees. Determine the cost of living in your new city. How much does an average accommodation cost? Is food typically expensive? Do you plan on eating and drinking out at bars or restaurants? Do you want to still be able to travel while you are abroad? Do your courses require you to purchase expensive materials? What are the expenses associated with visas or residence permits? Will you have any income? There are many important questions to answer in order to calculate a total sum of what you will need.

Although it may seem expensive, there are also many ways to stay on a budget! For example, don’t pay rent alone, find a roommate. You will immediately cut your accommodation costs in half! Cook for yourself whenever possible. Eating out can add up quick, especially if you are adding drinks to the tab. Look for student discounts. Even some of the world’s most famous attractions and sights offer steep discounts if you flash a student ID, so take advantage!

That being said, study abroad scholarships come in a wide range of amounts. Make sure to check in advance so that you can budget accordingly.

What Will a Study Abroad Scholarship Cover?

Depending on which global scholarship you receive and who is providing it, what the scholarship will pay for or not varies greatly. Most scholarships are designed to cover your basic cost of studying. This includes the cost of tuition, student fees, books, and any other school-related costs. In some cases, a portion of our living costs will also be covered, including the cost of food and accommodation. Other international scholarships are less strict. They will simply provide you with a lump sum of money which you can apply to your studies however you deem appropriate. That doesn’t mean spend your money on just whatever, it’s all still meant to fund your education. The difference is that you’re able to prioritize your own budget and apply the financial aid accordingly.

Oftentimes, scholarships also come with stipulations from the donor. Most organizations consider it as an educational investment rather than simply a gift. For that reason, college scholarships usually have strings attached. It’s common for scholarships to require a certain grade point average throughout your studies or for a certain performance level to be maintained for you to continue receiving financial aid.

It’s also important to take into consideration when the study abroad scholarship money will be awarded. Scholarship money is most commonly paid out in a lump sum before the start of the semester, but can, in some situations, be distributed in installments throughout the year. Scholarships are either paid to the student or to the school bursars office directly. Each school or organization has their own procedures for when scholarship money will be awarded. Make sure to ask in advance so that you’re not stuck with a big bill and no funds to cover it.

Who Provides Study Abroad Scholarships?

Scholarships can come from many sources and usually you’re eligible to receive more than one form of aid. Check the guidelines for each global scholarship to see what you qualify for. There are several different sources for scholarships funding such as:

  • Schools
  • Governments
  • Organizations
  • Businesses
  • Private donors

Oftentimes, these institutions are run or influenced by people who have studied abroad themselves and understand the value of an international education. This is a huge benefit to students who want to study abroad, especially since many scholarships are reserved specifically for them! It’d also be helpful to look into the profiles of the previous scholarship recipients and even reach out to them for advice. 

The Different Types of Study Abroad Scholarships

Now that you know where to find an international scholarship, it’s also important to know what kind of scholarships are being offered. Depending on the scholarship, there are different eligibility requirements. Likewise, different global scholarships will cover different costs related to the study abroad experience.

With proper planning and research, you’ll be on your way to receiving financial aid for undergraduate, graduate or post-graduate studies abroad in no time. Check out some of the different types of scholarships below to pick one that’s right for you!

Merit-based Scholarships

Merit scholarships are typically the ones that come to mind when you think of a scholarship. In order to qualify for a merit scholarship, you must demonstrate academic excellence. The most obvious indicator of your academic achievement is your grades. However, merit scholarships aren’t just limited to your grades. Some universities will also take into consideration any special talents you may have, including athletic abilities or musical skills.

The money granted by a merit-based scholarship is almost exclusively meant to cover tuition fees. Whether it covers only partial or full tuition is dependent on the university’s budget, your grades, or your financial need.

Need-based Scholarships

As the name suggests, need-based scholarships are awarded to students who have demonstrated the financial need in order to pursue their dream study abroad experience. If the student is still supported by their parents, the scholarship provider will analyze the parents’ income and ability to pay for the tuition fees. They may also look at factors such as citizenship and residence status, the number of members in your household, tax statements, or employment. If the student supports themselves, their own income will be assessed.

Need-based scholarships are designed to provide assistance for studies when students or their guardians are not able to afford tuition and fees. Therefore, the money granted by a merit-based scholarship is also meant to cover just tuition fees in most cases. These scholarships are independent of merit scholarships, and in some cases, you may qualify for both depending on the program or university. Be sure to check with your financial aid adviser to see what type of scholarships you qualify for.

Athletic Scholarships

Athletic scholarships are given to top-notch athletes by universities to recruit them for their athletic teams. Full-ride scholarships for athletes are common among many universities. Athletes compete for these prized athletic scholarships, but they also come with a price.

While benefiting from a free education, athletes pay with their rigorous training while balancing their studies. Often athletic scholarships are awarded to athletes while in high-school based on their performance in sports.

Program or Field Specific Scholarships

Program-specific scholarships are most often related to a specific level of studies such as bachelor’s or master’s level, or to a specific program, such as an engineering or nursing program.

Program-specific scholarships may be offered directly from the school, or, sometimes, from a private donor who is affiliated with the university such as an alumnus who has set up a scholarship foundation. Sometimes these scholarships are offered to you with your university admission and you don’t even have to apply for them.

There are also several study abroad-specific scholarships within this category. Some universities may target students in specific fields to boost their own international student population in specific programs.

Minority Scholarships

If you belong to a minority group, take advantage of the scholarships options established specifically for you. Most universities want to ensure they are providing equal access to education. Therefore, they offer scholarships to members of marginalized groups that may not otherwise have access to the same opportunities as more privileged students.

Applying for a Study Abroad Scholarship

So, what’s next? If you’ve done the research and made a list of international scholarships you may be eligible for, now it’s time to apply!

Many students find this to be the hardest step, but it doesn’t have to be. Most study abroad scholarships will have very specific application criteria to follow. Consider how competitive it can be to receive a scholarship, make sure you follow all the instructions and double check your work. A great first impression is the first step to turning your study abroad dreams into a reality.

Although applying for global scholarships can be very time-consuming, it is well worth the investment. However, you can follow our tips on getting your application ready to make the process much easier!

Make a Checklist

To start, it’s important to get organized. Make a list of all the scholarships you plan on applying for and then write down which each one requires. If you know in advance what you will need for each scholarship, it will be much easier to gather all of the necessary paperwork and documents. Oftentimes, different study abroad scholarships will require similar things, such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and essays.

You can also make a note of how much each scholarship is worth and rank them by ones you are most eligible for to ones that might be more of a stretch. Then, once you’ve organized your list, it’s time to get started!

Gather the Necessary Documentation

Transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation make up the essential components of your study abroad scholarship application. However, Double check to make sure that nothing else is required. Also, take into consideration that it can take a lot of time to request and receive both transcripts and recommendation letters, plus you will want to take your time writing the essay, so start this process as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss the deadline!


A transcript is a record of your academic grades and is a common component of an application for scholarships. There are two different types of transcripts: official and unofficial. Official transcripts are issued directly from the university and need to be sealed and directly delivered to the recipient. Unofficial transcripts are printouts of your grades and achievements and are not sealed or issued directly. Make sure you carefully read which type of transcripts are required for your application and plan enough time for delivery along with the application deadline.

Letters of Recommendation

The purpose of a letter of recommendation is to give scholarship providers an insight into your qualifications through the lens of someone who knows you personally. It’s best to ask someone who knows you either professionally or academically for a reference, as they tend to have more clout. However, some scholarships do not specify, so if you don’t have a professional reference to give, ask someone you know personally. It’s always recommended to give the person you intend on asking advance notice so that it doesn’t come as a surprise when someone reaches out to them to ask about your achievements.

If the application deadline is approaching and your recommender has yet to send in the letter, don’t be afraid to send out a polite reminder! Luckily, there is not much more for you to do besides thanking the people who spent the time writing your letter afterwards!


For almost every study abroad scholarship, an essay will be required. Instead of stressing over it, consider the essay your chance to explain to scholarship providers why you truly deserve their financial support. But first, take note of whether or not they have given a specific prompt or have asked for any specific information. If so, make sure you answer it and provide whatever information they request.

If the scholarship provider simply asks why you deserve funding for a study abroad experience, have no fear. Make some of the following points to convince them that you deserve this experience and you’re ready to take it seriously:

  • Explain why study abroad will make a difference for your studies
  • Let them know why you picked where you want to study
  • Describe why you need their financial support to fulfill your dream
  • Explain how you plan to appropriately allocate the funds
  • Showcase your personality, passion, and previous experiences

Don’t forget to proofread before handing in your essay. If possible, it’s great to have someone take a look over it as well, especially if it’s a professor or someone who has written a study abroad scholarship essay before.

Review and Submit

Once you have completed all the necessary steps, make sure to give your application a final review before submitting it. That way you can make sure you have followed all the instructions and have included all the required paperwork.

Also take into consideration the deadlines. Each study abroad scholarship application has its own deadline. There are thousands of scholarship programs with spring and summer deadlines, and thousands more with fall and winter deadlines. The key is to never stop searching for new scholarship leads, even after beginning the freshman year in college.

Every international scholarship application has different guidelines for the required documentation. Make sure to allow yourself ample time to organize yourself and complete your application. This will allow you to avoid stress while producing the best application possible!

Congratulate Yourself on a Job Well-Done!

Once you hit submit, that’s it! You’ve completed another study abroad scholarship application and have increased your chances of going on the adventure of a lifetime. Reward yourself with the fact that your time and dedication will pay off when you are living and studying abroad surrounded by new, international friends while immersing in a totally different culture.

Know more about studying in top study abroad destinations
Canada | New Zealand | Australia | UK | US | Europe | Russia