Pursue your American education with a lighter financial burden and minimal student loans.
The U.S. has one of the largest international student populations globally. The U.S. is home to a wide variety of colleges and universities, a great many of which offer a quality education, a unique curriculum, a diverse cultural environment, and abundant opportunities. You get the flexibility to choose your courses and modules molded around your academic interests and hobbies.
The USA has the world's best colleges and universities with an excellent support system for international students, making it the go-to place for students.
How can I afford to study in the USA?
With the quality of education comes a hefty price tag. Studying in the USA is expensive and requires a solid financial plan to cover tuition fees, books, transport and student accommodation costs, and to lead a comfortable student life. Most colleges and universities have scholarships to ease the financial burden for the students.
Scholarships cover a certain percentage, or in some cases, the total cost of studying abroad and university expenses. Generally, they cover some or all of the following:
Course materials (books and lab fees)
Partial or full tuition
Living expenses (food, transportation, etc.)
Here are some types of scholarships you can apply for while considering studying in the USA.
1. Academic scholarships
Academic scholarships are given to students who have displayed exceptional academic performance and skills. Universities and nationally recognised federal organizations generally provide these scholarships. High-achieving students with excellent grades do not need to demonstrate financial need, as they have their grade point average GPA at their disposal. The scholarship amount and preference are based on various factors:
Cumulative GPA: Anything more than a 3.5 GPA out of 4.0 is considered a good score
Overall grades: Helps to be a straight-A student
Participation in academic activities: Mock trials and science clubs go a long way
Choice of classes taken in school: An A in Molecular Biology > An A in Intro to Biology
2. Need-based scholarships
Need-based scholarships are the most common types of scholarships for American students, but international students may still be eligible and are for those who have expressed a need for financial assistance. They are granted by schools, government bodies, nationally recognized institutes, or local communities.
With need-based scholarships, the application process is different and not as straightforward as with merit-based scholarships. Several requirements are taken into consideration:
Colleges ask for proof such as income documentation (payslips, income tax returns and bank statements).
A certain GPA depending on the major you want to pursue
Letters of recommendation with a personal statement as to why this scholarship is necessary for you
Need-based scholarships are given according to financial need. Students who show need at a specific level are eligible for this type of financial aid. Each university may have funds used to help international students who show exceptional need or talent.
3. Scholarships for extracurricular activities
Interests outside of the classroom can also translate into financial awards in the form of scholarships. Individual colleges grant these scholarships. Every student is expected to get good grades, have high scores on competitive exams, and have outstanding letters of recommendation.
Still, the extracurriculars you participate in can take you a long way. Along with all your academic achievements, you should always mention the activities you participate in outside those four walls, which are skills that admissions officers always seek. If you have proof like certificates or recognition awards, always include those in your application. Some extracurricular activities include:
Arts: Having a knack for arts like drama, painting, designing, dance, or music shows your creativity and problem-solving skills.
Internships: Securing an internship as a student is always well regarded as it shows your ability to work and thrive in a professional environment.
Student research: Research is an add-on to your academic work and shows your ability to work in a group and think critically.
Community service: Community service and social work shows your willingness to cooperate and work for the greater good, which is an impressive skill for students to have.
4. Athletic scholarships
Athletic scholarships are awarded to student-athletes who have demonstrated par-excellence performance in sports. Individual colleges or universities grant these scholarships, which are comparatively less competitive as there are fewer applicants. Along with having excellent skills in sports, you also need a good and consistent academic record to justify the scholarship.
There are a few ways in which you can get an athletics scholarship:
Start early: If you know you're interested in a particular sport, join a team or make your own to increase your chances and improve your game.
Have a mentor: A coach who can guide you follow the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) guidelines to collaborate with them for off-field activities and volunteering initiatives.
Play for the right team: Play for a team with an excellent track record, good training facilities, and contacts with coaches and athletes with scholarships.
5. Student-specific scholarship
A student-specific scholarship is based on an individual student's personal and professional affiliations, which are generally background- and demographic-specific. Individual colleges and nationally recognized institutions grant them. These scholarships include:
Background specific: Students from specific backgrounds and ethnicities may qualify for these scholarships.
Students with learning disabilities: Students who are diagnosed with learning disabilities like dyslexia, visual motor deficit, dysgraphia, etc., qualify for these scholarships.
First-generation students: Students who are the first in their family to attend college can qualify for these scholarships.
Legacies: Students whose parents or family members have been alumni of the same university qualify for these scholarships.
Identity specific: Students who identify themselves as a member of the LGBTQ+ community qualify for these scholarships.
All the scholarships mentioned above depend on your authenticity and excellence in particular backgrounds and fields. You can find a scholarship that suits your experience the best.
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Madhura Ballal is a marketer and postgraduate from the National University of Singapore.
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