Money, or the lack of it, doesn’t have to puncture your dream of studying abroad. Universities, colleges, private organizations, and governments of many countries offer various types of full scholarships to international students.
Scholarships are granted based mainly on your country of residence, age, academic major, and eligibility.
The trick is to do adequate research and find out which university in which country offers full scholarships for the subject you want to pursue.
If you are planning to study abroad, you should research your target university to know what is on offer for international students.
Among the types of scholarships in the US, for example, are financial, or “need-based,” scholarships, for students from poorer backgrounds. A majority of them are for US students, but universities and organizations provide generous scholarships to international students, too.
Merit-based scholarships are for academically or athletically gifted students and students who have shown entrepreneurial talent or worked for the community. Country-based scholarships are available to students from developing countries. The US government also provides assistance to international students.
Keep in mind, though, that there are “full-ride” and “full-tuition” scholarships. Although in the past these terms stood for different types of scholarships, they are now often used interchangeably.
“Full-ride” once meant a scholarship that covered the entire cost of college attendance, including tuition, room and board, textbooks, school materials, cost of living, and study abroad fees.
Full-ride scholarships are offered by the US government, universities/colleges, and private organizations. These scholarships are highly competitive, and only 0.1 percent students get them.
“Full-tuition” scholarships often only cover the tuition fee and not other costs of attendance such as room and board. However, there are full-tuition scholarships that cover such expenses besides the cost of laptops, textbooks, and travel.
Another term mentioned in the matter of scholarships is “need-blind” admission. A college is said to have a policy of need-blind admission if it doesn’t consider your ability to pay the fees when it decides to offer you a place.
Only a handful of colleges in the US offer need-blind admission. Some have need-blind admission but don’t offer aid, and you may not be able to attend school if you can’t pay.
Some others offer need-blind admission and also pledge to meet the full financial need of those offered a place (MIT, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Amherst College, for example).
However, this doesn’t mean you have a “full-ride” scholarship. You will be expected to make a financial contribution based on your parents’ income and other resources.
Now, how can an international student get a full scholarship? Obviously, the first requirement is for the student to believe in himself/herself and apply for one, and not assume that he/she doesn’t stand a chance.
So, as an aspirant, you should send in your application as prescribed by the university/college you want to go to. Many students don’t take the trouble to apply fearing rejection.
But you need to make sure that you meet the eligibility criteria and that you send in your application well before the deadline. You should also take care not to send any financial information to fraudulent agencies that offer to route your application.
Remember that scholarships are predicated on your receiving an offer of admission from a university/college. This means that you should do extremely well in your standardized tests including SAT or ACT and also maintain an excellent GPA.
You may also have to have your IELTS or TOEFL score to prove proficiency in the English language. Taking and scoring high in SAT/ACT subject tests will give you extra advantage.
Sharpening your writing skills and demonstrating them in your scholarship essay or statement of purpose (SOP) is essential if you want your application to succeed. Ensure that your grammar and spellings are correct and that your essay gets straight to the point without embellishments.
Your essay should have a clear introduction, a strong body, and a powerful conclusion.
When drafting your scholarship essay, keep in mind what the university or foundation wants you to show. Most institutions give you a topic question to answer in the essay or SOP.
Is it courage in the face of adversity, character in the face of a moral dilemma, or empathy to people around you?
Focus on about three points that convey you have what they are looking for, prepare an introduction, and write a strong conclusion.
Don’t put off the writing until the last minute. Preparing your essay-points beforehand gives you time to write a beautiful essay, edit and correct it, and get it reviewed by a friend or teacher.
If you postpone the task, you may end up writing a “one size fits all” type of essay that universities may not care much for.
Show some passion and put in a credible story to support your main point. For example, don’t just say that you taught students language skills, but say how you came to realize that was a major deficiency for underprivileged children and how you took it up as a campaign.
You also require to show that you’re not a bookworm and you have a life outside the classroom. Mention your interests and extracurricular activities.
Prove that you have leadership skills. Scholarship foundations estimate your leadership skills by finding out whether you have excellent communication skills, whether you are a good listener, and whether you are an effective team player.
Here are a few full scholarships offered in various countries to international students. This is obviously not a full list, and as mentioned, the best way to find your ideal scholarship is to take up some intensive research based on your study level, subject, eligibility, country, and university/college of choice.
Fully-funded scholarships in the US includes the Fulbright Foreign Student Program for international students who want to pursue master’s or PhD in the country. They cover tuition, airfare, living stipend, and health insurance. Funding is provided through the duration of study.
American University provides free tuition and board for one international student for four years of undergraduate study. Brandeis University meets the full financial need of students, including one round-trip air fare each year. Berea College is the only college that provides full funding to all international students in the first year of enrolment.
Dartmouth College meets the demonstrated need of all admitted undergraduate students and provides travel allowance. The Freeman Asian Scholars Program at Wesleyan University provides full tuition scholarships for 11 exceptionally able Asian students.
The University of the West scholarships provides full tuition feel waiver for a certain number of course units per semester to both graduate and UG students.
Here’s a representative list of universities & colleges in USA that offer full scholarships to international students:
Chevening Scholarships are awarded to outstanding scholars with leadership skills for study in the UK in a master’s program. The scholarships pay tuition, living allowance, return airfare to the UK, and grants for essential expenditures.
Gates Cambridge Scholarships are granted for graduate study in any subject at Cambridge to international students all over the world and covers university fees, maintenance allowance, air fare allowance, etc.
Clarendon Scholarships are offered at the University of Oxford for graduate applicants and includes tuition and a generous grant for living expenses.
Other full scholarships include the Warwick Chancellor’s International Scholarships (for PhD applicants); Westminster Full International Scholarships (for students from developing countries to pursue UG studies); University of Bradford Global Development Scholarships (for master’s students from crisis-torn countries).
In Canada, it appears easier for international students to get a full scholarship for a PhD program than for a master’s program. The application could become stronger if the PhD thesis is on a topic of interest in Canada.
The Trudeau Scholarships is worth C$60,000 a year for a maximum of three years and covers fee and travel expenses. The Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship Program at the University of Toronto recognizes exceptional academic achievement and leadership skills and comes with tuition fee and other fees, book, and residence support.
A few Canadian universities offer full scholarships to international students. The University of Alberta offers general undergraduate scholarships, athletic scholarships, and country-specific scholarships. Centenary Scholarships worth C$20,000 each are granted for undergraduate study to international students with high academic standing.
The University of British Columbia presents the International Leader of Tomorrow Award for to talented secondary and post-secondary students. The award covers tuition fee and living expenses minus the contribution of parents.
The Global Citizen Scholarships are worth C$16,000-C$40,000 each per year for four years of UG study. The eligibility is high IBD scores, study permits to Agha Khan academies, leadership qualities, and financial need. Besides, the university offers International Student Scholarships of C$9,000 each paid out for all four years of study.
Endeavour Postgraduate Leadership Awards provide full financial support to international students for pursuing master’s or PhD in Australia. The awards help meet expenditure such as tuition, travel, and health insurance, and also pay a monthly stipend.
Other full scholarships include Adelaide Scholarships International (to postgraduate students for research; covers tuition fees, living expenses, travel, insurance) and the University of Sydney International Research Scholarships (PG degree for research, master’s; covers tuition fee and living expenses up to three years).
The New Zealand Development Scholarships, which covers tuition, travel, living expenses, and insurance, are given to students from Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean islands who take up postgraduate study that will assist in the development of their home countries.
In 2014, Germany’s 16 states abolished tuition fee for all undergraduate students at the country’s public universities. However, a trend of states reintroducing tuition fee cannot be ruled out. Tuition fee is already low and students can usually find work to pay for their living expenses when they don’t receive scholarship.
But scholarships are available, though beginning undergraduates and those who have not attended school in Germany may find them difficult to get. The criteria are your GPA, volunteer work, motivation, and future plans.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD in German) offers scholarships for international students. Besides, the Heinrich Böll Scholarships for international students at all levels, students can avail themselves of the Erasmus+ scholarship, Einstein International Postdoctoral Fellowship, Humboldt Research Fellowships, Kurt Hansen Science Scholarships, Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowships for Developing Countries, and ISM’s Full Scholarships (master’s, €10,800; bachelor’s €9,400).
The Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships has been instituted to help graduates pursue graduate or postgraduate research in public-funded or recognized universities in Switzerland. The scholarship includes tuition fees, monthly allowance, lodging allowance, and health insurance.
The ETH Zurich Excellence Master’s Scholarship Program is for master’s students at ETH and includes study and living expenses.
The Swedish Scholarships for International Students is for highly qualified international students to pursue master’s studies at universities in Sweden and covers tuition, living and travel expenses, and insurance.
The VLIR-UOS Training and Master’s Scholarship is granted to students from selected developing countries to help them pursue a training and master’s program related to development at universities in Belgium. Tuition fee, accommodation, travel, and other related costs are covered.
Scholarships in the Netherlands include the University of Maastricht High Potential Scholarship (to students outside EEA for master’s programs); TU Delft Excellence Scholarships (MSc students); Erik Bleumink Scholarships at the University of Groningen (tuition fee, travel, health insurance, textbooks), and Amsterdam Excellence Scholarships (to students outside EU for master’s programs; €25,000 for tuition, living expenses).
Depending on university ranking, an international student should be prepared to pay tuition fee of $3,300-$9,900 per year in China. Business, engineering, and medicine degree courses may cost more. The living expenses in the top metros are around $600-$1,350 a month and in smaller cities $400-$800.
Chinese colleges and universities provide fully funded scholarships to many international students every year. Students under the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) can apply for various scholarships in many universities.
Other full scholarships in China include Provincial Government Scholarships, Confucius Scholarships, Great Wall program, the EU Program, the AUN Program, and the PIF program. Full scholarships come with tuition, living expenses, accommodation, and medical insurance.
The Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University for students doing a one-year master’s course in leadership at the university covers tuition and other fees, room and board, travel to and from Beijing, cost of laptop, and insurance.
The Rotary Foundation Global Study Grants of $30,000 each is provided to international students in all countries. The grants supports graduate-level coursework or research for one to four years.
The Joint Japan World Bank Guarantee assists students from World Bank member countries in studying at world-renowned universities including Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Columbia, and the University of Chicago. It covers tuition, health insurances, living expenses, and books.
The ADB Japan Scholarship Program helps students from member countries of the Asian Development Banks to pursue postgraduate studies in economics, management, science, and technology. It covers tuition, cost of books, housing, living, and travel expenses, and medical insurance.
The OFID (OPEC Fund for International Development) scholarships, to meet tuition, travel, and living expenses, is worth $50,000 and awarded to students to pursue master’s degrees at accredited universities.