Campus Scholarship Program

Do you ever dream about going to the USA for a year after finishing high school? Then the Campus Scholarship Program might be the right fit for you! It offers the unique chance to study at a good university and live on campus with other American students. After more than sixty years in the Netherlands, the program will also be available for Belgian students starting the 2021-22 academic year.

Introduction to the Campus Scholarship Program

The Campus Scholarship Program (CSP) provides a unique opportunity for talented Dutch and Belgian students to spend one year at U.S. Universities. Most CSP students do a “gap year” – enrolling at an American university for one year as a non-degree student – before returning to the Netherlands or Belgium to pursue their studies.

So … why spend a gap year at an American university? In just one academic year, the Campus Scholarship Program allows students to experience two of the best aspects of the American education system: the liberal arts model and the campus community.

First, the unique American Liberal Arts model allows students to pick classes in a wide variety of subjects: ranging from foreign languages, such as Japanese, Chinese or Arabic, management, computer science, sport, dance and music to debate classes, philosophy and film. This wide range of classes allows you to figure out what you want to study.

One of the other great aspects of going to university in America is campus life. During your year abroad you’ll be living in a dorm, where you share a room with one or more roommates. Your meals are provided for you in the dining hall, where, due to your meal plan, you can pick your meals from a wide variety of foods. How does a salad bar, Papa John’s pasta, burgers or sushi sound? The dining halls will always have an option that suits you. Besides that, the campus also has a lot of resources. There is a gym, a pool and other sports facilities. The university library has an expensive collection and is open the majority of the time, sometimes even 24 hours. If you play an instrument, there is a good change that you’ll find many different practice rooms at your disposal. There are also a large number of clubs that you can become involved in, such as hiking, Quidditch, photography or diving. The best part about living on campus is the fact that there is always something to do. You’ll never be bored!

Program terms & conditions

After being selected for a year in the United States, the experienced staff members at the Fulbright Commission in the Netherlands will help you and your parent(s) prepare properly for your year abroad. The staff will help you find the right university for you and assist with the process: from applying to universities and getting scholarships to pre departure meetings to help you prepare for your year in the US. Once you’ve been selected for the program, your placement at an American university is guaranteed; you will receive a significant discount on tuition and at least one option within your budget.

University placement

The exact location of your university remains a surprise for now. Will you be surrounded by beautiful nature in Oregon? Are you going skiing in Michigan? Or are you going to be down south where you don’t even need a winter coat? The team at the Fulbright Commission in the Netherlands determines which university or universities would be a good fit for you, based on your test results, budget, hobbies and interests.

The application for a gap year at an American university is a complicated process. If you were going to the United States for your entire bachelor’s degree, you would be able to apply to practically any of the thousands of American universities, as long as you meet the entry requirements. Because you’re only going for a year, not all universities will accept your application. Since 1949 the Fulbright Commission in the Netherlands has partnered with several universities who are open to receiving gap year students and are willing to provide them with a scholarship. You can find a list of participating universities in the menu on the left.

Eligibility conditions

CSP has several conditions and criteria that you have to meet in order to be accepted to the program. After you’ve completed your application, the Fulbright Commission in the Netherlands will invite you to a virtual interview in order to get to know you better. The selection commission looks at your motivation and expectations, your hobbies and interests, your grades and the feedback from your references. As a CSP participant you are required to get good grades, actively participate in social activities on campus, and talk about life in your home country.

Applicants should meet the following conditions in order to be accepted to the Campus Scholarship Program and placed in an American college or university:

  • You are in your last year of secondary school
  • You are pursuing a General Secondary Education diploma (Algemeen Secundair Onderwijs / Enseignement Général or International Baccalaureate).
  • You are only planning to study in the U.S. for a year
  • You take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), preferably before you apply. We require a minimum score of 85 in order to place you properly. You can take the TOEFL multiple times if necessary.
  • You take one of two standardized tests: the SAT or the ACT. More information about these exams is available on the CSP application page.
  • You are a citizen of Belgium (or the Netherlands).
  • Your parent(s) are able to pay the price of a gap year. Participants can indicate what their available budget is but in order to give you sufficient placement possibilities we expect a minimum personal contribution of $20,000 for 2020-2021. This includes tuition, fees, room and board.

Program fees and budget

Because costs vary per institution and per region, it is impossible to tell you exactly how much a gap year in the United States could cost. Keep reading to understand the reason for the wide range in fees and to see a sample budget.

The big differences in the cost of university, both between the USA and in the Netherlands/Belgium and within the USA, are caused by the range of tuition fees. In the USA, there is no centralized organization that can define the limit of the tuition fees. Universities and colleges are free to decide this themselves. In general, the tuition at public (state) universities is lower than that of private institutions, because public universities are partially subsidized by the state in which they are located. On the other hand, private institutions sometimes offer better scholarships that can defray the cost of attendance.

The other major factor that influences the cost of your gap year is the region in which the university is located. The cost of living varies per state and per region: life in the Northeast or West coast is more expensive than in the middle of the USA. On top of that, life on a rural campus is cheaper than in a big city.

Most American universities offer scholarships to lower the cost of attendance. The scholarship possibilities vary per university and per applicant. Most scholarships are merit-based, which means that they are based on your grades and test results, while others are based on how well you fit with the university, the sport you play or your particular talent. Several universities also offer scholarships to international students in order to support the diversity on campus. For American universities, diversity is important because it allows students to get to know different cultures … which makes you an interesting candidate as an international student!

Although most universities save their scholarship money for students who will attend the university for their full four years, the Campus Scholarship Program works with universities that do offer scholarships for one-year students. Our partner universities offer good scholarships to the participants of the Campus Scholarship Program. In the past year, the average scholarship at state schools was $10,000 and $30,000 at private schools. The highest scholarship awarded in 2019-2020 was $44,000!

Estimated budget

In the following section, you will find an overview of the average costs.

Pre-departure costs
  • Standardized tests: $350-$400

depending on the test(s) the student chooses

  • Participation fee: € 1.808,95

including 21% BTW/VAT. The participation fee covers the administrative costs of the Campus Scholarship Program.

  • Visa application: $350

The visa application costs $160 and the SEVIS fee, dependent on the visa type, costs between $200-$350. This may vary from country to country.

  • Travel costs: $1,000

Depending on your destination, departure date and airline. The price of your flight is not included in your participation fee and is up to the participant to arrange.

Costs in the U.S. 
  • Tuition, Room and Board: $20,000-$50,000

When selecting universities, we keep your available budget in mind. Generally speaking, the cost of tuition, room and board is between $25,000 and $70,000. By applying for scholarships, this amount can be reduced to somewhere between $15,000 and $50,000, which depending on the exchange rate is roughly between €14.000 and €46.000. Participants and their parent(s) are asked to define their available budget. In order to place participants properly, CSP requires a minimum budget of $20,000. The actual offers from universities can end up being lower but this isn’t guaranteed.

  • Personal expenses and insurance: $2,500-$5,000

You need to budget for additional costs like insurance, school supplies, personal travel, and other personal expenses.