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U.S. College Scholarships for International Students
When it comes to finding college scholarships, knowing where to start can be a little overwhelming. There are thousands of options, but with many requiring their own applications, you need to narrow your search before you can begin the process of applying.
For some students, that means focusing on a particular area of talent. For others it means tapping into community resources or networking with friends and family. And for international students, it means finding scholarships that allow international applicants, or even target international students specifically.
It’s also important to note that at many schools, admissions for international students is need-aware, meaning most admitted international students won’t be offered need-based aid. In many cases need-based aid isn’t even available to international students. For this reason, if you aren’t able to pay for your college education out-of-pocket, funding your education through outside means is especially important.
If you’re an international student interested in applying for scholarships to study in the United States, check out our list of the top 10 scholarships for international students, and then read our list of further resources to find ways to fund your undergraduate education.
Requirements of Scholarships for International Students
Before you can begin in earnest to research scholarships for international students, you should know that some scholarships have minimum standards required of all applicants.
For many scholarships, you are required to prove your proficiency in English as a prerequisite. This could be through an English Language Proficiency Test, or sometimes through SAT scores or an IB diploma.
Some scholarships also require that you provide proof of financial ability to pay for the remainder of your education. For these scholarships, a set amount of financial resources must be available in order to show that you will be able to complete the education that the scholarship is helping to fund.
In other cases, scholarships will require a minimum GPA, SAT or ACT score, or IB diploma.
Be sure to know the prerequisites of any scholarship before you apply.
Ten Scholarships for International Students
These are partial, merit-based scholarships ranging from $6,000-$25,000 per year. Scholarships are renewable for four years of study and are offered only at the time of admission. American University describes these scholarships as “highly competitive and based on a combination of outstanding academic achievement, excellent communication skills in English, leadership, volunteerism, and community service.”
There are currently no need-based scholarships available to international students at American University, and applicants must demonstrate that they have at least $62,819 available for their first year of study, even if they hope to qualify and receive a merit scholarship.
Berea College is the only college in the United States that provides 100% funding to all enrolled international students for the first year of their enrollment. The unique combination of financial aid and scholarships offsets the cost of tuition, room, board, and fees.
After the first year, students are expected to contribute $1,000 towards their expenses each year. The college provides summer jobs to help international students cover this cost. In addition, all international students are provided with a paid, on-campus job through the college’s Work Program throughout the academic year. The wages from this job are used to cover personal expenses.
Accepted international students are expected to pay a $50 entrance fee and a $2,200 deposit to confirm enrollment. The deposit is used by international students for certain expenses during their enrollment. Financial aid is available for students who are unable to cover the cost.
This need-based scholarship from Brandeis covers the full demonstrated financial need of each international recipient and includes funds for one round-trip air ticket each year between the United States and the student’s home country.
Scholarships are awarded based on strong academic achievement as well as significant extracurricular or community involvement.
Since its inception in 1958, this scholarship has funded 860 scholars from 112 countries.
There are a number of scholarships available to first-year international students at Clark University. They range in value from $10,000 to full ride scholarships and all are renewable for four years.
All eligible applicants are considered for each of the scholarships automatically, with the exception of the Presidential LEEP Scholarships and the Global Scholars Program. These require additional application materials.
All scholarships are merit-based and most are available to the general student population in addition to international students. The Global Scholars Program, though, is specific to students who have attended school overseas for at least four years.
International students who may qualify for scholarships are “expected to demonstrate the ability to cover a significant percentage of the cost of their education.”
Concordia College expresses its commitment to the contributions that international students make to enhance education on their campus by offering several scholarships. These are available on the basis of both need and merit and are valued up to $25,000 per year.
In addition, Concordia provides IB Scholarships to all students with an IB Diploma who achieve 30 or more points. This award is valued at $5,000 per year. Furthermore, IB students with 30 or more points will receive 24 transfer credits, thereby granting them sophomore standing in their firs year and enabling them to graduate in only three years if they take a full load of courses each year.
The International Students Academic Merit Scholarship at East Tennessee State University is open to new international students seeking a graduate or undergraduate degree and covers half of the total of in and out-of-state tuition and maintenance fees. It is renewable for eight semesters for undergraduate study.
Applicants must have or plan to have an F-1 or J-1 student visa and a demonstrated record of academic achievement.
Students should apply for the scholarship through the online application after submitting an application for admission to East Tennessee State University.
Illinois Wesleyan offers merit-based scholarships to international applicants with records of outstanding academic achievement and outstanding standardized test scores. The awards range from $10,000 to $25,000 per year and are renewable for up to four years. In addition, student loans and campus employment are also sometimes available.
Furthermore, two full-tuition President’s International Student Scholarships are awarded each year. Candidates for these awards are evaluated based on their talents, interests and academic achievements.
Need-based loans and other financing may also be available to international students who submit a CSS Profile, which provides a detailed analysis of an applicant’s financial resources.
International Merit Scholarships at Iowa State University are awarded to international students who have demonstrated strong academic achievement, and outstanding talent or achievements in one or more of the following areas: math and sciences, the arts, extracurricular activities, community service, leadership, innovation, or entrepreneurship.
International freshman applicants and transfers with fewer than 66 credits are eligible for consideration. Interested students must submit a cumulative GPA comparable to a minimum of 3.0 out of 4.0, a resume or CV, one letter of recommendation, and a 500-word essay.
There is no single assigned essay question, though some sample questions are provided to guide you. Instead, you may write something that will help the committee get to know you better and explain why you deserve the award, or you may answer one of the questions provided on the scholarship application form.
There are two levels of awards. Gold awards receive $8,000 per year, and Cardinal rewards receive $4,000 per year.
To apply, first submit an application for undergraduate admissions. Then, fill out the International Merit Scholarship application form.
The Gold Global Excellence Scholarship and the Undergraduate Research Scholarship at the University of Minnesota are for international freshmen only, while the Maroon Global Excellence Scholarship is for international freshmen and international transfer students starting in the fall semester. All admitted students are automatically reviewed for these scholarships, so no separate scholarship application is required.
The Gold Global Excellence Scholarship covers the full difference between resident and non-resident tuition rates each year for 4 years. It is awarded to students studying on an F-1 visa in the top 5-10% of their graduating class.
The Maroon Global Excellence Scholarship covers 50 percent of the difference between resident and non-resident tuition rates each year for 4 years. It is awarded to students studying on an F-1 visa in the top 15-20% of their graduating class.
International students are also eligible for the Undergraduate Research Scholarship, which awards up to $1,700 to students interested in undergraduate research or other scholarly or creative experiences.
Each year the University of Oregon awards more than $1 million in financial aid and scholarships to international students.
The International Cultural Service Program awards 30–40 competitive scholarships to international students each year ranging from $7,500 to $30,000 per year.
This scholarship has a cultural service component that requires recipients to give presentations about their home country to children, community organizations, and the UO community. ICSP scholarships are based on financial need, academic merit, and the ability to make presentations to diverse groups of people. To apply, students should complete the ICSP application before January 15.
The International Dean’s Excellence Award for New International Students is a merit-based, partial-tuition scholarship awarded to new international undergraduate applicants entering in the fall. All international students who apply for admission are considered for this award. The scholarship is valued at $6,000–$8,000 each and is renewable based on academic performance.
The Summit and Apex Scholarships are merit-based awards based on high school GPA and SAT or ACT scores. The Summit scholarship provides $9,000 per year to international students, and the Apex provides $4,000. Both are renewable up to four years. To qualify, you must apply for admission, and then submit all scholarship application materials by February 15.
The University of Oregon Office of International Affairs also offers several competitive scholarships each year to international students who demonstrate financial need and academic merit, along with meeting specific criteria, like country of origin, as outlined by each scholarship. See the International Student and Scholar Services page to learn more.
Other Funding Resources for International Students
If you aren’t able to find a scholarship that matches your needs or you still need additional help funding your education in the United States, there are some other sources that you should consider.
Begin by contacting your country’s embassy in Washington, D.C.. There may be resources specific to your country of origin that you can take advantage of, or they may have further advice to help guide your search.
You can also search to find a nearby branch of EducationUSA. This program is run by the U.S. Department of State, and it maintain 400 international branches to “promote U.S. higher education to students around the world by offering accurate, comprehensive, and current information about opportunities to study at accredited postsecondary institutions in the United States.”
There are more scholarships available to search through on the College Board’s Big Future scholarship search feature. While these won’t necessarily be specific to international students, you will be able to find scholarships open to international students.
Finally, check the database at International Student Loan. This comprehensive search service allows you to input important information such as education level and the state of your institution to identify loans for which you might be eligible.
Word of Warning
As you search for loans and scholarships, be aware that there are many scams out there. Before you enter any personal information on a website, be sure to run a quick online query to verify its validity.
Also keep in mind that any scholarship that asks you to pay for the opportunity to apply is unlikely to be a legitimate source of funds. This is not 100% true of every scholarship, but it is usually the case. If any scholarship asks you to pay an application fee, double-check its validity by reading some reviews on other websites before you submit any payments.
If you are an international student interested in studying in the United States, and you have more questions, consider our CollegeVine’s Mentorship Program, which provides practical advice on topics from college admissions to career aspirations, all from successful college students who have been in your shoes.
Also be sure to consider applying for CollegeVine’s 21 for 2021 Scholarship which provides pro bono college counseling to qualified students.
For more information about funding a college education in the United States, check out these CollegeVine posts: