Grants for International Students in the United States
Every year over half a million international students study in the United States. Most of these students use large amounts of their own money to finance their American education because there is very little financial aid available from US sources for international students. Grants and scholarships are available, but the competition for these funds is fierce. International students who need financial aid to afford an American education should look first and foremost in their home country. There may be scholarships and loans available for study abroad from your government, or from local businesses, organizations, and foundations in the home country. Students who are coming to the United States through a direct exchange program between a home country university and a U.S. institution may receive a full or partial waiver of tuition and fees through the program.
The Fulbright Scholars Program is the flagship international education program of the U.S. Department of State. Every year approximately 1500 graduate students, doctoral students and teachers from around the world study in the United States through Fulbright funding. The website for complete information on the Fulbright program is www.fulbright.state.gov. Students should bear in mind that only two per cent of all the international students in the United States receive funding from the U.S. Government. It is essential that students investigate every possible avenue for obtaining grants and scholarships.
Many universities in the U.S offer some financial aid and scholarships to international students. This aid may be rather limited, and it is usually more readily available to graduate students than undergraduate students. Good grades and exam scores are extremely important in securing a scholarship. Find out whether any of the schools that you would like to apply to have grants, loans or scholarships for international students. Most universities have offices devoted to assisting their international students, and they can provide very helpful resources for obtaining funding and for finding organizations that offer grants and scholarships.
A good example is The University of Tennessee – Knoxville. UT – Knoxville has a very useful, comprehensive website for international students (www.international.utk.edu) which includes, among many resources, a list of external scholarships that accept applications from foreign students.
Looking for Grants and Scholarships for International Students
One invaluable source of information for foreign students seeking funding is the Institute of international Education (IIE). Based in New York, this organization is responsible for administering scholarships, fellowships and grants at accredited universities and institutes all over the world. In fact, they administer the Fulbright program.
The program finder on their website (http://www.iie.org/en/program-finder) enables students to find and research programs that might be appropriate for them.
Another excellent source of information is www.iefa.org. The International Education Financial Aid website allows students to research individual American colleges and universities that are particularly welcoming to international students and research opportunities in individual American states.
Finally, international students should not overlook the U.S. State Department’s website created to assist students wishing to study in the United States, www.educationusa.state.gov. In addition to containing virtually everything an international student should know about coming to the U.S. to study (including how to finance the experience), the site enables students to find the closest information resource center to them. These resource centers are located around the world and provide live experts for student to consult with.
Organizations with Grants and Scholarships for International Students
- The American Association of University Women (AAUW) awards fellowships for full-time research study to international women who are enrolled in a graduate or post-graduate program at an accredited U.S. institution. More information can be found at http://www.aauw.org/learn/fellows_directory/international.cfm.
- The American Councils for International Education (www.americancouncils.org) provide grants and fellowships to students from the former Soviet Union for study in the United States.
- Through its chapters in countries around the world, Rotary International provides funding for international study. Students should research Rotary Clubs in their home country. This can be done through the Rotary International website at www.rotary.org.
- The Soros Foundation provides scholarships for undergraduate and graduate study to students around the world. The funding is generally available to students studying certain subjects and from certain countries. Students can find specific information at www.soros.org/grants.
Students should also research international humanitarian organizations that want to promote international education and cultural exchange with the United States. These organizations include the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the League of Red Cross Societies, and the World Council of Churches. Some of these organizations have restricted financial aid. For example, the international student scholarships or aid may only be available to graduate students, students from a specific ethnic group, or students who have chosen a specific course of study. Financial aid and scholarships that are available from these organizations are very competitive, so you need to start your search early.