As student who is pursuing a Bachelor's or Master’s degree, one of your main responsibilities is figuring out how you’re going to pay for it. Robbing a bank is not an option, and selling a kidney is more trouble than it’s worth. So instead, you’ll have to come up with more savory methods of paying for your university education.
Scholarships are difficult to procure, but they are the best ways of getting financial assistance when you’re planning to go to university. Especially if you’re an international student who does not have access to government loans or stipends, scholarships are much more secure and stable means of funding your education.
Searching for scholarships is also quite difficult; knowing where to look, what to look for, and what to avoid are important things to know before you venture out into the vast sea of scholarly awards. So below we will provide concrete advice for finding and applying for scholarships all over the world.
1. Search for scholarships made especially for your location
One way to catch the most scholarships or to get the widest selection would be to search the overall scholarships (private or government-backed) scholarships that are offered in the region where you are studying. For example, if you’re going to study in Germany, you may find that there are several scholarship opportunities available for international students who are studying at a German university. At the early stage of looking for a scholarship, it’s best to start with a wider selection, that way you can have a larger number of scholarships to apply for, and more chance of receiving funding.
- Several scholarships are available to students around the entire country, province, or city you are planning to study in. You will find that many are useful for students no matter which institution they attend or discipline they study.
- Local companies, non-profit or corporations will often sponsor their own scholarships. These are separate from the institutions and the government awards, and are designed to support students within their own industry.
- Be aware that some federal or national scholarships require students to be citizens before applying. While some countries do offer federal scholarships made specifically for foreign students, you will still want to be sure to check your eligibility in each scholarship.
- Do not feel that you should limit yourself in your applications. More than likely, your applications are free of cost; so you are encouraged to apply to as many scholarships as you can. With a wide search query, you are sure to come across many scholarships that you will be eligible for; apply to any of the ones that you qualify for!
2. Search for scholarships unique to your degree programme
Another way to begin finding the right scholarships for you would be to seek out scholarships that are meant for your specific degree programme or subject. Many companies and organizations are eager to support and finance subjects that will benefit their own industry. Students often find that they can easily find scholarship options for engineering, computer science, or business; and, indeed, many other disciplines in the social sciences, humanities, and fine arts also offer great funding options and awards for students. So, if you’re looking for scholarships that will assist with the unique needs of your study programme or discipline, try searching for scholarships specific to that subject (e.g. “Scholarships for __ students”).
- If you search for scholarships by discipline, you’re often welcome to use that at any university of your choosing. However, sometimes, as a condition of the scholarship, you are required to only use the scholarship at a specific institution. Be sure to check whether you can use the scholarship you’re applying for at the university of your choice.
- These scholarships can be particularly useful for disciplines that require lots of external expenses. For example, if you’re studying chemistry, scholarships will be especially useful for lab fees and equipment. Scholarship sponsors are aware of these expenses, and they are ready to help support students who have those specific needs.
- Many of these scholarships will want you to show proof of your work, or want you to have a high GPA. Think of it as if they are betting on your success as a student; if they spend money to send you to university, they will want proof that you are a good student worthy of such an award. So, if you’re going into a specific discipline, these sponsors similarly want to know that they are investing in the best engineers, the best scientists, or the best teachers.
3. Search for scholarships at your university
Well, you’ve applied to and enrolled in the university of your dreams. That university is lucky to have someone as smart and ambitious as you! To show their appreciation, shouldn’t they help you out with some extra money to pay for college? It’s the least they could do!
Although universities don’t really think this way, many universities all over the world offer scholarships for their Bachelor’s and Master’s students. Through the various donors, endowments, and government support that universities and institutions receive, they will often give out some of this funding to their students. These scholarships are then made specifically for the students at that university; and so the number of students you are competing against for the scholarship is much smaller.
- On your university’s site, they should have a section for ‘tuition fees and funding’. Through this page, you should be able to access their large list and database of scholarships. You may also wish to contact your university advisor, bursar, or registrar for more information.
- Many of these scholarships are both needs-based and merit-based. Needs-based scholarships are designed specifically for students who have profound financial hardship or burden, and who absolutely need a scholarship to fund their studies. Often, therefore, they will ask you to provide proof of your family’s income or taxes before applying. Merit-based scholarships are given to students based on, well…merit. This means, based (high grades, successful projects, or teacher recommendations) you will have the merit to receive a scholarship; you’ve shown to be a high-quality student who is now worthy of a scholarship award. Merit-based scholarships are much more common, yet highly competitive. You’ll want to know which one you are applying for and what kind of qualities they are seeking in a student before applying.
Managing the scholarship search
Searching for a scholarship is all about starting at the right place. With the right search queries and categories, you have a much easier chance of narrowing down the wide variety of scholarship options that exist around the world.
So, if you start with customising your search, based on your location, discipline, or university, you will have a higher chance of finding options that fit your needs. Begin with your location, and see whether there are funding opportunities for international students in your position.
Scholarships are highly competitive and coveted opportunities for you to receive secure financial support. So, our advice is to work diligently on your applications, taking plenty of time and care to make sure your materials are in order. But, most importantly, take a chance and apply to as many scholarships as you can!