Keystone logo

What Scholarships Do Colleges in the USA Offer?

As an international student, getting financial aid is a necessary factor when trying to study at an American college. Due to the fact that many international students are enrolling in undergraduate programs at US institutions, there are many forms of financial aid available just for you.

Feb 6, 2024
  • Study Abroad in the United States
  • Scholarships
  • Study Abroad Financing

Are you wondering about scholarships for international students in the US? Along with all the other things you'll need to know about studying in the United States, cost is an important factor to consider as you plan your journey. As many international students enroll in undergraduate and graduate programs at US schools, many forms of financial aid are available.

In this article, we'll be covering how to get a scholarship to study abroad as well as the different types of scholarships that are available to international applicants. But before we dive straight in, let’s cover some tips that can increase your chances of receiving one of these scholarships.

Apply for our Bachelor's in the USA Scholarship! 🇺🇸

We award international student scholarships every year!

How Can You as an International Student Increase Your Chances of Winning a Scholarship?

Once you find your dream study abroad destination, you'll need to find some funding in order to make your dream come true. In most cases, you won’t be the only one filling out that scholarship application form. There are many other international students who want to get the same prize as you. Due to the high volume of applicants, you’ll be facing high competition for that scholarship. How can you improve your chances of winning?

First, you need to show proof that you are worthy of this prize. You need to have a high GPA, which means that you need to concentrate on what’s going on in your school and spend a lot of time studying and preparing for tests and exams. You also need to participate in extracurricular activities (sports, music groups, volunteer organizations, so on and so forth), which means you need to do something outside of school and do your best in it.

Last but not least, you need to plan ahead. When applying for scholarships to study abroad, there are going to be essays that you need to write or recommendation letters that you have to request. If you want to showcase your best skills, you need to make sure that you have enough time to review your scholarship application until it shines. If you can, try to apply as early as you can!

Types of Scholarships Offered in US Colleges

After covering some tips regarding scholarship application, let’s look at what types of scholarships are available to international students: full-ride, partial and external. Please note that the third scholarship type is not awarded by colleges in the United States, but you can use the award money to pay for your academic bills.

1. Full-Ride Scholarships

This first type is probably the most sought-after scholarship among international applicants, and the reason behind this fact is that full-ride scholarship awards will cover your entire cost of attendance (tuition fees, room & board, insurance, airplane tickets, and more). This means that recipients of full-ride scholarships do not have to pay one cent to receive their four-year college education.

This type of scholarship is the most prestigious award since full-ride scholarships contain the highest financial benefits for international students. However, this great benefit comes with a cost, which is really high competition compared to other forms of financial aid. Since this scholarship program pays for the entirety of your college education, many international students apply for this scholarship in order to win this award for themselves.

Due to the high number of scholarship applicants, this means that you have a really low chance of winning any full-ride scholarships. Don’t try to bet on one full-ride scholarship alone since there is a high chance that you won’t be receiving it. Please keep in mind that full-ride scholarships can come in different forms such as fully-funded scholarships or full scholarships.

2. Partial Scholarships

The second type of scholarship that is offered by US institutions to international applicants is called a partial-value scholarship. Unlike the full-ride scholarship, partial scholarships only cover the partial amount of your college bills. For example, a partial scholarship might only cover your tuition while you need to pay for your accommodation and food. Other times, it might only be a certain amount of money that can be used toward paying off your college tuition.

Since it only partially covers your bills, you need other forms of financial aid in order to completely cover your total cost of attendance. Since this type of scholarship offers a lower value than full-ride scholarships, there is a high chance that you might receive this scholarship.

Always apply – even to low-value scholarships since the little amount that you gain can add up very quickly. Also, please keep in mind that scholarships are not the only avenue of financial aid since international students can apply for work-study positions, external scholarships, and loans.

3. External Scholarships

Last but not least, international applicants can apply to external scholarships, which are financial awards offered by outside organizations other than your college, private organizations, and small business corporations. Even though this type of scholarship is not offered directly by your school, you can use the award money from external scholarships to pay off your college bills.

The external scholarship is probably the most ignored scholarship type among these three scholarship types. Due to the fact that external scholarships are not as well-known as scholarships offered by US institutions, many international students fail to apply for these scholarships even though they might have won the scholarship money if they had applied.

In addition, there is no limit on how many external scholarships that you can apply for since external scholarships stack on top of each other. If you apply for hundreds of small-value external scholarships and win scholarship money on most of them, you probably will gain enough money to pay off your college education and even have money left over to help with living costs.

Apply, Apply, and Apply!

Remember, there is no limit to how many scholarships you can apply for, so begin your research on finding scholarships that you’re eligible to apply for. After figuring out all the opening dates, make a timetable so that you can use your time wisely and efficiently.

I hope this information helps, and good luck with your scholarship application!

About the Author


Daniel Lee is the main editor at, a portal for searching scholarships to some of the most popular study destinations. He has previously worked for other scholarship websites.