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The basics
Study abroad : Student Finances

Finding a scholarship to study abroad the RIGHT way

Find a scholarship to study abroad the CORRECT way with Hotcourses Abroad. See how our site can help from searching to applying...

Find a scholarship to study abroad the right way

So you want a scholarship to study overseas and you discover that the institution you’re interested in is offering on which meets all your needs (and which you’re eligible for) – great news!


But what’s your next step? Take a look at our guide to searching for and securing that life-changing scholarship...


Searching for a scholarship

Firstly, you need to properly research what options there are for financial aid which you are eligible for. Luckily most universities offer some form of financial aid to students – not all students know about this and therefore each year many scholarships go to waste (a huge shame). Universities offer scholarships for many reasons: to diversify their student body; to attract students with high academic potential who might not be able to afford to study at university level or overseas; and also simply for the good press and publicity it brings.


Most universities will publicise these financial aid opportunities on their website and in their prospectus. You can read our guide to the various forms of financial aid available. Remember, you can download official prospectuses from universities, in full, directly from us here on Hotcourses Abroad – find a prospectus for an institution you’re interested in, download it and search for a scholarship. You can also click on the ‘Download Prospectus’ button wherever you see it here on Hotcourses Abroad, like on an institution’s profile.


You can contact an institution and ask about scholarships they offer by clicking the 'Contact Institution' button on their profile
You can contact an institution and ask about scholarships they offer by clicking the 'Contact Institution' button on their profile

If you still can’t see a scholarship or form of financial aid for you, don’t despair! You should still ask directly to make sure you’re not missing out. Plus it’s very beneficial to become known to the university and specific members of staff in the admissions or international offices, as they can help you further later, provided that you demonstrate that you’re a serious applicant (i.e. you have the required English language test scores, you meet the entry requirements, you have other ways of funding your studies aside from scholarships etc). You can get in touch with your questions or queries by clicking on the ‘Contact Institution’ button wherever you see it on Hotcourses Abroad.


But how do you ask about scholarships in the right way?


Asking about scholarships: The proper way

Universities receive enquiries from international students everyday regarding scholarships – everyone wants to study abroad, especially at top institutions. Just like when employers need to quickly sort good CVs from bad ones when hiring someone, university admissions staff need to distinguish between the serious enquiries and the rest, prioritising those which are likely to result in an admitted student.


That’s not to say that you can’t ask about scholarships. Scholarships are there for a reason and many international students study overseas with help from these each year – these include full-scholarship students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as those from middle class families who simply need a little extra financial help. Universities will appreciate that prospective students will have questions about these. However you need to effectively communicate that you are not enquiring on a whim; that you meet the other entry requirements; and that in some cases you do have a back-up plan to finance your studies.


So how do you ensure that your enquiry is considered seriously? Here are few tips:


Don’t just ask about scholarships

University staff will look for enquiries which are not just-scholarship driven. They receive a lot of these from students are missing the other criteria which they’ll need to study abroad. Plus it’s hard to form an attachment to or paint a picture of a student who is just asking about scholarships. These sorts of enquiries lack the personality which will make an admissions staff member sit up, take notice and want to help you. You should also ensure your enquiry isn’t too broad; be specific (e.g. ask about specific courses or scholarships to show you’ve done some research). Take this opportunity to ask any other questions you have too to show that you’re researching studying abroad thoroughly. This can be something big or something small which you were wondering (for example you might ask about accommodation options or about a specific course).


Don’t make demands

Be careful with the tone and language of your enquiry. You should avoid sounding like you’re demanding anything or that you expect anything from the university – this will sound rude and hostile, and these are not the characteristics which you want to associate yourself with. It’s understandable that the difference in languages can result in some tone being lost or something being misconstrued, so be extra careful. Some applicants in the past have requested that the university send them information or even call them personally. This is simply not possible for a busy admissions office with so many enquiries passing through each day; if they want to get in touch with you, they will and you’ll have the opportunity to provide your contact details if they can get in touch with you. Plus it also gives off the impression that you’re lazy and not prepared to do the necessary work yourself if you demand that they do the work for you or ask a broad question.


No “sob stories”

Universities also receive many long, long messages where students talk about their hardships and struggles as if this will convince them to award a scholarship on this alone. As unfortunate as these circumstances might be, universities only have so much budgeted for financial awards each year. Don’t think that you’re original with your story either – it's likely a university staff member has heard every kind of story. Plus many students sadly try to scam universities with such tall tales so universities are more cautious about such messages.


Universities do offer scholarships to those from underprivileged backgrounds around the world, but they have processes in place to apply for these and can only provide so many opportunities each year. Remember, they have no obligation to offer you anything – it’s important you understand this and go about your scholarship search in a logical, practical manner.


Show you’re a serious applicant

Without making your enquiry or message too much longer than it needs to be, it’s useful to mention anything which demonstrates that you’re a serious applicant (as opposed to someone messaging on the off-chance of getting a scholarship with no previous research or serious thought). Mention briefly your highest academic qualifications (not every academic qualification you’ve ever had), your English language test scores and any other impressive academic awards you’ve received. This can all show that you’re a legitimate applicant.


Good level of English

Even though your enquiry may be a short message, you should make sure that your English is of a high standard. Poor spelling, grammar or punctuation will put off an admissions officer. Also the tone should be polite and formal, avoiding slang. This is the first contact you’ll be making with an institution so you need to make a good first impression to ensure the chain of communication continues from their side. Being able to speak, write and understand English to a high standard is an important requirement of studying at an institution overseas – there’s no getting around it!



Good example of a scholarship enquiry:

My name is Joe Brown. I am currently completing my undergraduate degree in Business at Full Sail University in the States.
I’m interested in studying the Human Resource Management and Business MSc with you at Aston University. I have a few questions about the module structure for the course, specifically which are mandatory and whether I would get to choose particular areas to focus on? Also how is the course assessed? Are there any specific scholarships for students from Middle Eastern countries?
Joe Brown


Key points:

  • Formal but friendly tone
  • Good standard of English
  • Mentions early on that student is a current international student to indicate that they likely meet the necessary entry requirements (i.e. English language requirements, related course of study)
  • Several, specific questions (concerning module structure and course assessment)
  • Scholarship enquiry is also specific
  • Short with all the necessary information and details only


Bad example of a scholarship enquiry:

My name Joe Brown. Pls send me all info about business course scholarships. I am very poor and need help.


Key points:

  • Too short
  • Not enough information about the student
  • Bad English (missing words, “text-speak”)
  • Resorting to “sob story” approach
  • Vague about details of what they want to study
  • Requesting that institution to do work for them (‘Pls send me all info’)
  • No sign-off



Searching for a scholarship on Hotcourses Abroad

You can search for that perfect scholarship here on Hotcourses Abroad right now!


Search for a scholarship here on Hotcourses Abroad on our scholarships page
Search for a scholarship here on Hotcourses Abroad on our scholarships page


Simply go to our scholarships page and choose a destination, subject and study level to search. You can also browse for scholarships by destination, subject and study level. On the next page, you’ll be presented with courses which match your search criteria. When you’ve selected one, you’ll be taken to a page which goes into detail about that course including a summary of what the course covers, course options (including tuition fees) and the entry requirements. On this page you can also read about scholarships (near the button).


Who will answer your scholarship enquiry? Watch our video on how international offices can help you:


Read more:

Top tips for successful scholarship applications

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