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THE USA: Student Finances

3 Scholarships in the USA to start you off...

Learn all about three key scholarships for international students in the USA

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Scholarships and student funding schemes are common fare for both local and international students in the US. Against high tuition fees and inescapable living costs, most students will require some form of financial aid to complete their tertiary education. In fact, it’s common for many students to have multiple sources of funding to support themselves whilst they study, which means you’ll have plenty of financing options to choose from. We’ve laid out three key scholarship options for international students in the USA to help you kick-start your plans to study abroad.

If you aren’t applicable for any of the scholarships listed, don’t worry: we’ve included plenty of links and tips to point you in the right direction to find the funding option for you.

Funding Bodies

US Government

International students do not qualify for federal aid but may still be eligible for some scholarship programmes offered by the US government, or US government-sponsored organisations.

For example, the Fulbright programme is a US government-sponsored organisation that helps non-US students finance their studies at US institutions. Fulbright runs a number of scholarship programmes across different study areas and levels, and also works in partnership with other countries to create specific funding options for students of particular nationalities.

Sometimes US government bodies work in partnership with foreign governments and institutions to arrange particular agreements for students of a certain nationality. These options will almost always be listed on the website of the US embassy or consulate website in your home country. 

Learn more about the Fulbright Scholarship Programme

Host University

Most American universities offer some kind of funding for international students. Your host should always be your first stop in searching for funding options: their scholarship programmes have been created with their own study programmes in mind, and will be better tailored to your specific needs when studying there. Your host will also have the best idea of what you’re likely to spend in living and accommodation costs, and so are more likely to award amounts that will best support your student life. Details of scholarships offered by your host will always be retrievable via their website.

Scholarships are typically awarded based on academic merit or financial needs, but in some cases may be tied to specific study areas or work in partnership with external institutions. As funding options in the US are virtually endless, it’s always best to contact the international office of your host and ask for advice directly. Remember: they’re used to dealing with international students, and will know what to do to help.

External Funding

With a country so big, it’s almost impossible to put a finger on how many scholarships options are out there. Plenty of companies offer funding schemes to students of a particular discipline, whilst many organisations offer programmes for students engaged within an area that is aligned with their ethos and relates to their area of work.

You can search for a scholarship using an external search engine such as International Scholarships, International Student or International Scholarship Search.

You can also search for a funding on our site via the scholarships page.  



AAUW International Fellowships in USA for Women

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is one of the world’s largest sources of funding for Masters, PhD and Postdoctoral scholars in the US. All non-US women applying for study programmes on these levels at any accredited US institution are eligible, provided they will hold the equivalent of a US Bachelor degree by roughly the end of September in the year prior to the commencement of their study programme.  

Selection is very competitive, and is based on academic and professional merit as well as a demonstrated commitment to improving lives of women and girls worldwide. Successful candidates will be able to outline and meet specific needs for knowledge and skills within their home country, and be able to outline how they intend to examine current educational, cultural and political issues to impact positive social change. You should also be able to prove you intend to return to your home country after completing your studies to work towards this cause. 

You will need to apply for this scholarship online via the AAUW website, and will need to pay a filling fee of US$30. You will need to include all relevant academic transcripts to date (including proof of your Bachelor qualification, or Doctorate qualification if applying for a Postdoctoral programme), official TOEFL score of at least 550 for the paper-based test or 213 for the computer-based test (or request for waiver if native English speaker), a letter of admission to your host university and an ‘acknowledgement postcard’: a self-addressed postcard that requests acknowledgement from the AAUW that they have received your application. The online application process might also have an essay component, so you should be sure to leave ample time to complete it.

Amounts awarded vary per study area: Masters students will receive US$18,000 per year, PhD students US$20,000 and Postdoctoral students $30,000. Application deadlines vary from year to year, but for example, in 2013 the cut-off was December 1 for a start in the 2014 academic year. The award is tenable for one year, and so students should account for a secondary funding source for the remainder of their programme.

Click here for a full list of criteria for the AAUW International Fellowship programme

Point Foundation Scholarship Programme 

Point Foundation is a non-profit organisation that works towards creating and empowering future leaders within the LGBTQ community. Undergraduate and Postgraduate students may be eligible to apply.

Candidates will need to be of an exceptionally high academic standard, demonstrate proven leadership skills and the desire to incite positive social chance for the LGBTQ community. Your professional experiences, previous involvement in the LGBTQ community, financial needs and history of marginalisation (if applicable), will also be taken into account. Students will also need to show that they identify themselves within the LGBTQ community.

The application is a multi-tiered process that can only be completed on the Point Foundation website during relevant application dates. You will be required to produce supporting documents at each level of the process, and parts of the application may have essay components. Make sure you leave enough time and have all the information you will need handy when you complete the application. The deadline for a start in semester one of the 2014 academic year was midday on January 21, 2014.

Amounts awarded vary, and are not the same year-to-year. Point scholarships are intended to ‘fill the gaps’ of your study finances, and should not be relied upon to cover your complete living and tuition costs. Students should also note that it is not guaranteed that their scholarship will be renewed at the end of each year.

Click here to learn more about Point Foundation Scholarships

Microsoft Scholarship Programme

Microsoft Corporation offers four scholarship programmes available to international students currently completing their studies at a US institution: General Scholarships, Women’s Scholarships, Minority Scholarships and Scholarships for Students with Disabilities. You will need to check specific application criteria for each programme on the Microsoft Scholarship website, and indicate which you are applying for on your application form.

For all scholarships, students must be completing an Undergraduate programme in Computer or Information Science, Engineering, Mathematics or Physics to be eligible. For example, the General Scholarship will cover either the full or partial cost of your tuition for one academic year only, and requires students to complete a paid summer internship of at least 12 weeks with Microsoft in Washington. The application deadline for 2014 was February 1st. You may only use awarded funds to cover tuition costs.

To apply, you must collect all relevant supporting documents and e-mail them to: within relevant application dates. You can find a comprehensive breakdown of the application process for all four scholarship programmes on this page.

Selection is based primarily on academic merit, with students needing to demonstrate a minimum GPA of 3.0 or equivalent. You will need to demonstrate strength of character, ambition and leadership capabilities, and you financial means will also be considered.

Click here to calculate your CGPA


Now that financing your studies in the US doesn’t seem so scary, why not browse courses in the US now and get your plans to study abroad on the road?

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About Author

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Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.


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