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Study Abroad Scholarships

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Do you need to know how to get a scholarship to study abroad? We can help! Our comprehensive guide covers it all, from what kind of international scholarships are available and tips on how to apply for a scholarship.


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Table of contents:

  1. Scholarships for International Students – What You Need to Know!
  2. How Much Does it Cost to Study Abroad?
  3. What Will a Study Abroad Scholarship Cover?
  4. Who Provides Study Abroad Scholarships?
  5. The Different Types of Study Abroad Scholarships
  6. Applying for a Study Abroad Scholarship
  7. Scholarship Directory with 440+ International Scholarships


1. Scholarships for International Students – What You Need to Know!

Many students dream about studying abroad. It’s no secret that an education overseas offers students the opportunity to make new friends, gain internship experience, explore the world, create professional connections, and immerse themselves in a new culture. Though there are clear benefits to studying abroad, the steps towards making it actually  happen can be intimidating - especially if you’re on a budget.

However, many students falsely believe that studying abroad is too expensive for their budget and don’t know where to start on the scholarship application process in a different country. The good news is that there are plenty of study abroad scholarships for international students who are interested in pursuing a course or a degree abroad. These opportunities can range from funds to cover your flight  to scholarships that allow you to study abroad for free.

Universities have scholarships for international students to diversify their student body and enrich the cultural experience of the campus. Outside of universities, there are also plenty of organizations that offer scholarships as a way to promote global education and international relations. The most important thing to learn about how to get a scholarship to study abroad is to know where to find international scholarships and which ones you are eligible for. Once you find out what kind of support is available and learn how to apply for a scholarship, all that’s left to do is start deciding on your top study abroad destinations.

So, whether you’re looking for funding for an entire program or just for a semester overseas, read our guide to help you find all the scholarships for studying abroad that you need to make your dreams come true!

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2. How Much Does it Cost to Study Abroad?

The cost of studying abroad can vary greatly depending on the length of your studies, the city you choose to study in, and what kind of accommodation you have. Naturally, full study abroad programs are more expensive than just taking a single semester or course abroad, and there’s a big difference between needing funds to study abroad for free or just needing to cover some of the cost. It’s important to plan your studies in advance to know how much financial support you’ll need.

There are several factors to consider besides tuition fees. The biggest factor will be the cost of living in your new city. How much does accommodation cost on average? Is food typically expensive? Do you plan on eating and drinking out at bars or restaurants? Do you want to travel while you’re abroad? You can learn about living costs in different countries with our guides.

Other factors you should consider might be related to the courses you take, visas, and potential income outside of class. Do your courses require you to purchase expensive materials? What are the expenses associated with visas or residence permits? Will you have any part-time jobs

Although it may seem expensive, there are many ways to stay on a budget. For example, don’t pay rent alone, find a roommate! Or, cook for yourself whenever possible. Eating out can add up quickly, especially if you’re adding drinks to the tab. Also, look for student discounts. Even some of the world’s most famous attractions and sights offer huge discounts if you show a student ID, so take advantage! Even if you find some partial scholarships for studying abroad, budgeting and student discounts will make your life a lot easier.

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3. What Will a Study Abroad Scholarship Cover?

What scholarship funds will go towards varies greatly depending on which international scholarships you receive and who is providing it. Most are designed to cover your basic costs of studying. This includes tuition, student fees, books, and any other school-related costs. In some cases, a portion of your living costs might also be covered, such as food and accommodation.

Other scholarships for studying abroad are less strict. These might provide you with a lump sum of money which you can apply to your studies in whatever way you feel is appropriate. That doesn’t mean that you can or should spend your money on just anything, it’s all still meant to fund your education. The difference is that you’re able to prioritize your own budget and apply the financial aid accordingly.

In the process of learning how to apply for a scholarship, be sure to check the terms and conditions. There might be stipulations from the donors or organizations, where the scholarship is seen more like an educational investment rather than a gift to allow you to study abroad for free. For that reason, there are usually strings attached. It’s common for international scholarships to require a certain grade or performance level maintained throughout your studies for you to continue receiving financial aid.

It's also important to take into consideration when the funding will be awarded. Scholarships for studying abroad are commonly paid out in full before the start of the semester, but can, in some situations, be distributed in installments throughout the year.

The funds will also be paid either to the student or to the university directly. Each school or organization has their own procedures for when scholarship money will be awarded, so make sure to ask in advance so that you’re not stuck with a big bill and no funds to cover it.

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4. Who Provides Study Abroad Scholarships?

Scholarships can come from many sources and you’re usually eligible to receive more than one. Check the guidelines for all study abroad scholarships to see what you qualify for. There are several different sources, such as:

  • Universities
  • Governments
  • Organizations
  • Businesses
  • Private donors

These institutions are often run or influenced by people who have studied abroad themselves and understand the value of an international education. They also usually post lists of the previous winners! So, while finding out how to get a scholarship to study abroad, look into the profiles of the previous scholarship recipients and reach out to them for advice. Sources of scholarships for international students will also vary from country to country. You can find scholarships for specific countries in our scholarship directory!

Whichever type of scholarship you decide to apply for, remember to be patient and persistent! Scholarships are an excellent way to help you achieve your study abroad dreams. Continue reading to learn more about the different scholarship providers.

University Scholarships

Universities will readily help their students find study abroad scholarships and international grants. Admissions offices may automatically offer scholarships and grants when you apply, or they may require that you apply for financial aid in advance.

To find scholarships for international students through a college or university, it is best to go through an academic advisor or a financial aid office. The advisor will be able to recommend different types of scholarships you qualify for based on academic records, athletic ability, special talents, or financial need. Scholarships through a specific university may be offered as full-tuition or partial payments.

In a short term study, make sure to check the school where you plan to study abroad. They may offer additional financial aid if a scholarship from your home university is not enough to cover all costs. If you’re studying an entire degree program at a university abroad, check if your new university offers scholarships for international students. Oftentimes, schools need to meet a certain quota of international students, so they will offer financial aid as an incentive. This means that it is entirely possible to study abroad for free at some schools!

Government Scholarships

When you’re looking for information on how to get a scholarship to study abroad, don’t overlook government scholarships! Federal or state governments are a great source of financial aid for international students. 

In the United States for example, the government is the largest source of need-based financial aid, primarily in the form of the Pell Grant. State governments in the United States (for example, the governments of California or New York) may also fund grants and scholarships for residents attending college in their state. In addition, foreign governments may offer international grants or global scholarships for international students to study in their country.

In order to find available grants and scholarships from governments, it’s useful to contact the country's embassy for more detailed information.

Private and Individual Donor Scholarships

Many companies, foundations, community organizations, and clubs sponsor scholarships for studying abroad. Organizations offering these types of private scholarships can be institutions such as labor unions, religious centers, public organizations or clubs. These ‘external’ or ‘private scholarships’ are generally a one-time form of aid, and will vary in amount and usually have specific eligibility requirements set by the donor. 

Individual donors, on the other hand, are individuals who have set up a private fund for students to receive financial aid. These study abroad scholarships are awarded based on academic merit or financial need depending on the donor.

To find international scholarships through individual donors, a bit more searching is usually required. Sometimes these scholarships are advertised, but more often than not you will have to seek them out on your own.

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5. The Different Types of Study Abroad Scholarships

Now that you know where to find international scholarships, it’s also important to know what kind are being offered before you learn more about how to apply for a scholarship. Grants will have different eligibility requirements and will cover different costs related to the study abroad experience.

With proper planning and research, you'll be on your way to receiving financial aid for your studies abroad - whether in the form of merit-based scholarships, need-based scholarships, specific degree scholarships or other aid that you qualify for in no time. Check out some of the different types of scholarships for international students below to pick one that’s right for you!

Merit-based Scholarships

Merit scholarships are typically the ones that come to mind when you think of a scholarship. In order to qualify for a merit scholarship, you must demonstrate academic excellence. The most obvious indicator of your academic achievement is your grades. However, merit scholarships aren’t just limited to your grades. Some universities will also take into consideration any special talents you may have, including athletic abilities or musical skills.

The money granted by a merit-based scholarship is almost exclusively meant to cover tuition fees. Whether it covers only partial or full tuition is dependent on the university’s budget, your grades, or your financial need.

Need-based Scholarships

As the name suggests, need-based scholarships are awarded to students who have demonstrated that they have financial needs to pursue a study abroad experience. If the student is still supported by their parents, the scholarship provider will analyze the parents’ income and ability to pay for the tuition fees. They may also look at factors such as citizenship and residence status, the number of members in your household, tax statements, or employment. If the student supports themselves, their own income will be assessed.

Need-based scholarships are designed to provide assistance for studies when students or their guardians are not able to afford tuition and costs of studying. These grants are independent of merit scholarships, and in some cases, you may qualify for both merit-based scholarships and need-based scholarships depending on the program or university. Be sure to check with your financial aid advisor to see what type of international scholarships you qualify for.

Athletic Scholarships

Athletic scholarships are given to top-notch athletes by universities to recruit them for their athletic teams. Full-ride scholarships for athletes are common among many universities, especially in the United States. Athletes compete for these prized athletic scholarships, but they also come with a price.

While benefiting from a free education, athletes must balance rigorous training with studies. Athletic scholarships are often awarded to athletes while in high-school based on their performance in sports.

Program or Field Specific Scholarships

Program-specific scholarships are most often related to a specific level of studies such as bachelor’s or master’s level, or to a specific program, such as an engineering or a nursing program. For example, a university may offer master's degree scholarships for any of its master's students or the engineering faculty may offer specific scholarships for master's programs in engineering for its engineering students.

Program-specific scholarships may be offered directly from the school, or also from a private donor who is affiliated with the university such as an alumnus who has set up a scholarship foundation. Sometimes these scholarships are offered to you with your university admission and you don't even have to apply for them.

There are also several scholarships for international students within this category. Some universities may target students in specific fields to boost their own international student population in specific programs.

Minority Scholarships

If you belong to a minority group, take advantage of the scholarship options established specifically for you. Most universities want to ensure they are providing equal access to education. Therefore, they offer scholarships to members of marginalized groups that may not otherwise have access to the same opportunities as more privileged students.

Eligible groups include, but are not limited to, women, racial or ethnic minorities, and members of the LGBTQ community.

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6. Applying for a Study Abroad Scholarship

So, what’s next? If you’ve done the research and made a list of the funding you may be eligible for, now it’s time to find out how to apply for a scholarship! Many students find this to be the hardest step, but it doesn’t have to be. Most study abroad scholarships will have very specific application criteria to follow. Considering how competitive it can be to receive a scholarship, make sure you follow all the instructions and double check your work. A great first impression is the first step to turning your study abroad dreams into reality.

Although applying for global scholarships can be very time-consuming, it is well worth the investment. In any case, you can follow our tips on getting your application ready to make the process much easier!

1. Make a Checklist

To start, it’s important to get organized. Make a list of all the scholarships for international students you plan to apply for and then write down what each one requires. If you know in advance what you will need, it will be much easier to gather all of the necessary paperwork and documents. Oftentimes, different study abroad scholarships will require similar things, such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and essays.

You can also make a note of how much each scholarship is worth and rank them by ones you are most eligible for to ones that might be more of a stretch. Then, once you’ve organized your list, it’s time to get started!

2. Gather the Necessary Documentation

Transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation make up the essential components of your study abroad scholarship application. However, double check to make sure that nothing else is required. Also, take into consideration that it can take a lot of time to request and receive both transcripts and recommendation letters from schools. Plus, you’ll want to take your time writing the essay, so start this process as soon as possible to make sure you don’t miss the deadline!

- Transcripts

A transcript is a record of your academic grades and is a common component of an application for scholarships. There are two different types of transcripts: official and unofficial. Official transcripts are issued directly from the university and need to be sealed and directly delivered to the recipient. Unofficial transcripts are printouts of your grades and achievements and are not sealed or issued directly. Make sure you carefully read which type of transcripts are required for your application and plan enough time for delivery along with the application deadline.

- Letters of Recommendation

The purpose of a letter of recommendation is to give scholarship providers an insight into your qualifications through the lens of someone who knows you personally. It’s best to ask someone who knows you either professionally or academically for a reference, as they tend to have more influence. However, some scholarships do not specify, so if you don’t have a professional reference to give, ask someone you know personally. It’s always recommended to give the person you intend on asking advance notice so that it doesn’t come as a surprise when someone reaches out to them to ask about your achievements.

If the application deadline is approaching and your recommender has not yet sent in the letter, don’t be afraid to send out a polite reminder! Luckily, there is not much more for you to do besides thanking the people who spent the time writing your letter afterwards!

- Essays

One of the most crucial components when looking at how to get a scholarship to study abroad is the required essay. Instead of stressing over it, consider the essay as your chance to explain to scholarship providers why you truly deserve their financial support. But first, take note of whether or not they have given a specific prompt or have asked for any specific information. If so, make sure you answer it and provide whatever information they request.

If the scholarship provider simply asks why you deserve funding for a study abroad experience, have no fear. Make some of the following points to convince them that you deserve this experience and you’re ready to take it seriously:

  • Explain why study abroad will make a difference for your studies
  • Let them know why you picked where you want to study
  • Describe why you need their financial support to fulfill your dream
  • Explain how you plan to appropriately allocate the funds
  • Showcase your personality, passion, and previous experiences


Don't forget to proofread before handing in your essay. If possible, it's great to have someone take a look over it as well, especially if it's a professor or someone who has written a study abroad scholarship essay before. You can also check out our scholarship essay and application tips.

3. Review and Submit

Once you have completed all the necessary steps, make sure to give your application a final review before submitting it. That way you can make sure you have followed all the instructions and have included all the required paperwork.

Take into consideration that each study abroad scholarship application has its own deadline. There are thousands of international scholarships with spring and summer deadlines, and thousands more with fall and winter deadlines. The key is to never stop searching for new scholarship opportunities, even after beginning your first year of university. 

Every international scholarship application has different guidelines for the required documentation. Make sure to allow yourself enough time to organize yourself and complete your application. This will allow you to avoid stress while producing the best application possible!

4. Congratulate Yourself on a Job Well-Done!

Once you hit submit, that’s it! You’ve learned how to get a scholarship to study abroad and have increased your chances of going on the adventure of a lifetime. Whether you end up being able to study abroad for free or for much less cost, reward yourself with the fact that your time and dedication will pay off when you are living and studying abroad surrounded by new, international friends while immersing yourself in a totally different culture.

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Last update: 15 Mar 2022

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