Over 600 US universities offer scholarships worth $20,000 or more to international students. Some even offer full ride scholarships, which cover all costs. Certain merit-based scholarships can be guaranteed scholarships for which you automatically qualify. Other times you do need to apply for them yourself. Your university’s website should offer more information about the necessary forms and deadlines for your application.
US universities might offer several types of funding to international students:
Need-based financial aid
Your need-based financial aid is calculated depending on your family’s income and expenses. Based on the information you provide, universities come up with an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) which determines the amount your family is able to contribute towards your university education from a university’s published cost of attendance and the amount the university will have to contribute. If you can pay the full cost of attendance, you will receive no need-based financial aid.
Dozens of universities will fund the full demonstrated financial need of admitted international students. Some universities are need-blind and do not base their admissions decision on your financial circumstances. These universities are often highly competitive and often require proof of sufficient funds in order to apply.
These scholarships are awarded on conditions of merit, such as grades, admissions exam results, or performing arts talents. Certain activities, such as community service or volunteering, may also count towards a scholarship. You will find the exact requirements on your university’s website.
Diversity funding (niche scholarships)
Most American universities value a diverse student body. Some universities offer scholarships to students from a particular background to stimulate campus diversity. They might be based on any type of applicant criteria, such as: gender, country of origin, ethnicity, religious denomination, medical conditions or learning disabilities, and particular talents.
You can use the following search engines to get a better idea of university costs and funding opportunities for international students at particular universities. Once you have created your shortlist, you can go on the university websites to find the exact financial information for each of your choices.
This search engine lets you search for universities based on your preferences. You can search by type of university, field, test scores, location, sports offered, and activities, as well as costs and funding opportunities. This helps you find universities that offer financial aid to international students.
Ask the Fulbright Commission
The Fulbright Commission and EducationUSA collect information about funding opportunities for international students worldwide and can therefore offer suitable advice about scholarships that have recently been awarded by particular American universities. If you have any questions about a particular university, don’t hesitate to ask our Educational Adviser.
Applying for funding
Applications for university funding are often integrated into the application for admission.
For need-based financial aid, you will most likely have to fill in the CSS/Financial AID PROFILE. Applying will take time, and usually requires you to upload tax forms or other proofs of income. Make sure to check which forms are necessary at your university and when the deadlines are.
Merit-based funding can sometimes be guaranteed scholarships, e.g. if any admitted student meets a specific grade requirement or achieves a certain ACT/SAT score. Other times you will be required to hand in extra documents or write an essay. The deadlines for some of these scholarships may close before your application is due.