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STUDY ABROAD : Student Finances - Must read

Top tips for a scholarship application

When exploring studying abroad evaluating the costs is an important aspect. For many international students scholarships provide a great way of financing studies. We explore some of the tips, tricks and best practices to submit a great application.

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Studying abroad is undoubtedly an extremely rewarding experience. Immersing yourself in a new environment, working towards your academic goals and meeting new people all contribute positively to your development. However, there is always the question of money and funding. Whatever destination you choose to apply to there will be costs involved, from tuition fees to accommodation. This is where financial aid in the form of scholarships is invaluable.  Securing a scholarship can go a long way to helping you fulfil your ambitions, but there are some ways to increase your chances. We’ve got the top tips on how to get your scholarship application right.


Stick to the deadline


Now we know this may seem obvious, but it has a huge influence on how you may be perceived and the likelihood of you being awarded a scholarship. It’s a good idea to start putting your application together well before the due date. This includes everything from the required documents to the essay or personal statement you’ll need to write. This is especially true for letters of recommendation as it gives those you have asked more time to put them together.


Sometimes it’s useful to create a calendar of key dates and give yourself deadlines. This way nothing has the chance of escaping your timeline and you won’t miss anything. This would definitely be a good idea if you’re applying for more than one scholarship. Having a plan in place is critical in making sure you maximise your chances.


Submitting your scholarship application early may mean you’re at the front of the queue when submissions are evaluated. In most cases, if you submit your application after the closing date it will not be considered, so you stand to lose out.


Why not find out a bit more about what it costs to study abroad?


Understand the eligibility criteria


Once you’ve searched for opportunities and identified potential scholarships, you’ll need to evaluate and understand the eligibility criteria. It’s best to choose to apply for scholarships where you most closely match the type of candidate they are looking for. For example, applying for a scholarship aimed at student-athletes may not be appropriate if you don’t play sport at a high level. Sometimes the types of scholarships on offer may surprise you.


Understanding why funding is being offered by a university or organisation will make it much easier to discern if you meet the criteria and how best to structure your application. Before submitting it's useful to make a list of the criteria and then note down specific examples of how you meet each. You can also consult with family members, friends, a teacher, lecturer or mentor to help you assess which scholarships you would be suitable for. Make sure to do your research such as:



The crucial aspect of scholarship criteria is that you have to show how you meet and perhaps even exceed them.  Find out more about the different types of financial aid.


Pay attention to detail


The importance of having an eye on the detail of your application cannot be overstated. Although it’s not always possible to ensure that things are perfect, taking your time to complete an application is advisable. Some tips include:


  • Reading the application carefully
  • Completing the application in full
  • Following the instructions
  • Providing the correct documentation
  • Checking submission details
  • Proofreading and editing


By following the information that is provided by the scholarship provider carefully you are less likely to make an error or exclude something which may prejudice your application.  If you are for example unsure of a question in an application form, don’t simply leave it blank. You can contact the scholarship provider for clarification or you can add a note.  Remember that those evaluating your application will be able to see if you have made an effort and this will work in your favour.


Customise your scholarship application


While it is important to make a good impression and align yourself with the requirements of a scholarship, remember that you also have to let your personality show. There is not a set formula for scholarship success, but what you can do is demonstrate your credentials and unique profile. Selection committees can generally see if you have submitted a generic application that’s been used for other scholarship submissions.


Striking the right balance between letting the selection committee in on your personality and staying relevant is important. While your unique set of circumstances and perspectives are valuable, they do need to be able to be contextual to the application and scholarship.


Making a clear link is important. For example, why you may be motivated to study a particular subject or in a particular country like Australia or Canada. Critically you need to imagine your possible competition and what characteristics or skills you may possess that would set you apart.


Write a great motivation letter or essay


The cornerstone of any scholarship application is your essay/letter of motivation or personal statement. It provides you with the chance to state your case and demonstrate why you should be selected as the scholarship recipient. In some cases, you may be asked to write on a specific topic or it could be a more general essay of motivation. Make sure that you understand the requirements and what the essay should be about.


You must also check how long the essay or statement should be and stick as closely as possible to this. Try to be succinct and to the point, it’ll work in your favour. You might be able to use the selection conditions as a guide or blueprint to structure your writing.


Making sure that you cover the criteria and demonstrating that you have done some research is a great way of making a good impression. Tailor your writing and make sure that you check your spelling and grammar. In fact, get a few people to check it before you submit it. Take some time to read our guide to writing the perfect scholarship application.


Once you have everything we’ve gone through in place, you’ll be ready to submit your application. Make sure you know how and where it needs to be submitted and have a copy of your application as well, just in case.  


Remember that you can keep up to date with the latest student news, including scholarships. Perhaps you’re interested in finding out which universities top the rankings in 2021. If you’re ready to search for your ideal course and university, our course matcher tool can help.



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