How to find Scholarships for International Students

This article discusses differences between scholarship, funding, assistantships, grants and bursaries. It explores the process of searching and applying for college scholarships in the US and Europe.

Why study abroad

If you did not have a good experience studying at local universities (like most of us), then you have seriously thought of studying abroad. Granted, some local colleges really try. Some professors give their best. And a few departments go out of their way to provide students the best higher education experience in the country.  That said, there are innumerable demerits of studying at local universities. Limited facilities, understaffed departments, crowded classes and frequent strikes -just to mention a few. Don’t get me started on the arrogant, sadistic professors who give hurried lectures before rushing to moonlight at private colleges. These factors have made pursuing a degree at local universities a nightmare for many. Consequently, students are increasingly exploring the possibility of studying abroad.

College tuition and fees

An okay college in Europe or America would give the best local colleges a run for their money. This quality however matches their fees -which makes studying overseas unaffordable for most Kenyan. On average, a private American college charges $33000 for tuition while a public one charges $24000 a year. Crazy? I know. If you cannot afford to pay this vulgar sum then that is the right time to think of scholarships.

Scholarships for international students

If you have tried finding scholarships then you probably visited the highly advertised “scholarships websites” which you later discovered had nothing to offer other than catchy terms, outdated information, and the absurd online scammers asking you to pay facilitation fees in order to get a scholarship.

It is important to note that many genuine scholarship programs do not advertise heavily, and will rarely ask you to pay anything other than college application fees paid through  college websites.

Scholarships, sponsorships, funding or bursary are used interchangeably to refer free money or waivers towards one’s education. Each of these terms, though, has minor variations depending on such factors as the benefactor, expenses covered, the target population, and the criteria used to award the financial aid. Scholarships may be full or partial. Besides covering tuition and accommodation charges, full scholarships may also include a monthly stipend. Such scholarships will naturally be very competitive so you will need to be an A student or a first-class degree holder to make the cut. Work and research experience, projects and published papers may give you an edge in the process. Some scholarships target students of specific national, racial, gender, financial or academic backgrounds.

College funding and Assistantships

A few colleges waive fees in exchange for services provided by students in the form of teaching or research assistantship. Often, assistantships are available to graduate students. It is therefore important to understand the terms of a scholarship before applying for it. For graduate students, I recommend applying for college funding instead of competitive, prestigious scholarships, unless you exceed the scholarship criteria.

Scholarships and bursaries are often offered by non-academic entities like governments, businesses, individual benefactors, and organizations. On the other hand, funding is often given by colleges. Generally, scholarships are more advertised and they are, therefore, more competitive than funding. To know whether a college provides funding you need to check the department’s or program’s websites. For good measure, you should check with the program coordinator or the financial aid office. Do not forget to ascertain how much the funding is because you might be required to pay the reminder of your tuition if the waiver is partial.

Scholarship application and essay

Once you have identified program, and you have ascertained that you meet their requirements for funding, the next step is to apply for admission and funding. Depending on the college and department, you might need to submit a separate application for funding and scholarship essay, or it might be as easy as check-marking a box on the online  application. In any case, be sure to adhere to the application process.

Also read:

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