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Last update: May 29, 2024

7 minutes read

Can You Get a Scholarship as an International Student?

Explore how international students can secure college scholarships with out tips, do’s and don'ts, and expert advice included.

By Brian Flaherty, B.A. Economics

Edited by Rachel Lauren, B.A. in Business and Political Economy

By Brian Flaherty, B.A. Economics

Edited by Rachel Lauren, B.A. in Business and Political Economy

Did you know it's possible for international students to earn scholarships? Even though looking for scholarships as an international student might seem hard, they are definitely out there. In this guide, we'll explain how international students can find and earn scholarships. It's all about knowing where to look, what to do, and how to put your best foot forward.

Key takeaways

  • International students can take advantage of scholarships, and many resources, including schools and online platforms, can help you find them
  • Many U.S. universities offer scholarships open to international students, reducing the financial burden
  • Skills like leadership and strong writing can make a scholarship application stand out

    Can you get a scholarship as an international student?

    Yes! International students can definitely get scholarships. In fact, there are many scholarships specifically designed for international students, ranging from university-based to independent financial aid options.

    Take my word for it - try to get as many scholarships as you can! When I was making my way through school, scholarships helped save me a ton of money in tuition expenses. Unlike loans, scholarships don’t need to be paid back - it’s like free money.

    Where can international students find scholarships?

    One of the first places international students should look for potential scholarships is at their chosen school itself. Schools can often be scholarship gold mines for international students.

    Reach out to your chosen school's financial aid office to find out about scholarships offered by the school, and if you are eligible as an international student. Here's a quick overview:

    1. Check with your school's financial aid office: They may give you information about scholarships specific to your school and can help you with the application process.
    2. Use scholarship search tools: Platforms like TuitionHero aggregate many scholarships and their details in one place, making your search easier.
    3. Look for scholarships open to all students: Don't limit yourself to those specifically for international students. Some scholarships are open to all students, regardless of their nationality.

    What are some examples of scholarships for international students?

    Many U.S. schools offer university-based scholarships open to international undergraduate applicants. Some good examples include:

    • The Wien International Scholarship Program at Brandeis University, whose scholars have shown records of academic excellence and commitment to making positive change in their communities.
    • American University provides a few scholarships for international students, including the AU Emerging Global Leader Scholarship, which covers all university expenses for students who need a visa to study in the US.
    • The Presidential Scholarship at Clark University covers full tuition and on-campus room and board for all four years, regardless of financial need.

    How can skills boost scholarship chances?

    Your skills can also play a big role in improving your chances of getting a scholarship. Strong leadership skills, in particular, can make you a stronger scholarship applicant.

    Universities often look for evidence that you might be a future leader. Proven leadership in high school, like leading a club or starting a new one, can be proof of your skills. Consider keeping a record of these activities:

    1. Leadership roles: being a captain of your sports team, head of a club, or leader of a project.
    2. Volunteering and community service: any work serving your community or advancing a cause you care about.
    3. Initiative: starting your own club, business, or project shows initiative and resourcefulness.

    Strong writing skills can also give your application a big boost. According to Fareha Abid, a past scholarship recipient, the most important part of a scholarship application is the personal statement.

    The statement helps scholarship officers really get to know you – your identity, your experiences, and your true self. If you're good at writing, you can express these things well and boost your chances of getting a scholarship.

    What mistakes should international students avoid?

    When applying for scholarships, there are a few traps you should avoid. Don't plagiarize essays or engage in any other academic dishonesty. Be honest, especially about your achievements and extracurricular activities. This could include:

    • Avoiding the use of automated tools to write your scholarship essay, like ChatGPT
    • Not providing misleading information about your accomplishments
    • Not waiting until the last minute to apply.

    TuitionHero Tip

    Being genuine and starting early can really make a difference in your scholarship application. After all, being honest and having discipline suggest you have a bright future as a leader.

    Do’s and don'ts of applying for scholarships as an international student

    Applying for a scholarship as an international student requires careful planning and execution. Understanding the dos and don'ts associated with the process can increase your chances of getting financial aid. Let's go over some main points.


    • Start your application early.

    • Tailor your application.

    • Proofread your application.


    • Don't procrastinate.

    • Avoid generic applications.

    • Don't ignore the details.

    Key statistics on scholarships for international students

    Knowing facts and data related to scholarships for international students can be a helpful guide throughout your application process. Let's dive into some statistics.



    Over 890 scholars

    This is the number of scholars from 115 countries who have received the Wien International Scholarship so far.

    $8,000 to $20,000

    This is the range of partial merit scholarships offered by American University annually based on academic excellence and rigor.

    More than 600

    Number of U.S. universities who offer scholarships of $20k+ to international students

    Advantages and disadvantages of studying as an international student on a scholarship

    While getting a scholarship as an international student can come with big benefits, it's also crucial to understand the challenges involved.

    • Reduced financial burden: Scholarships lower the financial pressure on students and their families.
    • Exploring new culture: Studying abroad allows you to experience a different culture firsthand.
    • Networking opportunities: You’ll meet people from diverse backgrounds who can help broaden your worldview and could lead to beneficial personal and professional relationships.
    • Stringent requirements: Scholarships often come with strict academic or other performance requirements that you need to maintain to keep the scholarship.
    • Competition: Scholarships, particularly ones for international students, can be highly competitive.
    • Cultural adjustment: Adapting to a new culture and language can be challenging for many students.

    How TuitionHero can help with scholarships for international students

    At TuitionHero, we know it's tough to find scholarships, especially for international students. Our website has lots of helpful resources to guide you through your search for scholarships. We cover everything from private student loans to student loan refinancing and even credit card offers, so you can understand the financial side of your education.

    We're also here to help if you're applying for FAFSA. Even though it might not directly apply to international students, remember, if you're planning to study in the U.S. or are already here as an international student, these services can be very useful. Start your journey towards your dream education today with TuitionHero.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    Standing out as an international scholarship applicant is all about proving your leadership skills and academic excellence. Highlight your community involvement, participation in extracurricular activities, and any other relevant experiences. Strong written communication skills are a plus, too, as your essays or personal statements could set you apart from the competition.

    Usually, you'll need your academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, standardized test scores, and any other documentation specified by the scholarship. However, it's best to check specific scholarship requirements as these can vary.

    Some scholarships are country-specific. To find them, you can reach out to your home country's U.S. embassy or consulate, contact your prospective U.S. school's financial aid office, or use online scholarship search tools like the one available at TuitionHero.

    Going through the scholarship application process might feel overwhelming, but don't worry – you've got support. TuitionHero provides personalized help to guide students and parents through the application process, making it as easy as can be.

    Final thoughts

    Getting a scholarship as an international student takes some work, but the rewards are worth the effort. If it seems challenging to find the right one, don't get discouraged – there are plenty of helpful resources, including TuitionHero, ready to give you the guidance you need. Always keep in mind that your unique mix of skills, experiences, and qualifications matters – it's about recognizing and using them well. You've got this, and we're here to help you every step of the way!



    Brian Flaherty avatar

    Brian is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he earned a B.A. in Economics. After graduation, Brian spent four years working working at a wealth management firm advising high-net-worth investors and institutions. During his time there, he passed the rigorous Series 65 exam and rose to a high-level strategy position.


    Rachel Lauren avatar

    Rachel Lauren is the co-founder and COO of Debbie, a tech startup that offers an app to help people pay off their credit card debt for good through rewards and behavioral psychology. She was previously a venture capital investor at BDMI, as well as an equity research analyst at Credit Suisse.

    At TuitionHero, we're not just passionate about our work - we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.

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