How To Get Scholarship In USA For International Students – 8 Points

Do you dream of studying abroad in the US? You can turn your dream into reality by applying for scholarships and achieving your goals. There are scholarships in USA for international students, this guide will walk you through how to apply for them.

The US is home to some of the best universities in the world, these institutions are at the forefront of top-tier academics both in teaching and research and have contributed to some of the innovations and technologies we use today. It is no wonder why higher institutions in the US are expensive.

However, even with its expensive tuition, the US still attracts nearly a million international students from different parts of the world thanks to its quality education and globally accepted academic degree qualifications. The United States remains the top study hub for international students, with countries like Canada, the UK, and Australia next in line.

There were 948,519 international students studying in the United States in the 2021/22 academic year. This is an increase from the previous year when 914,095 international students were studying in the United States.

Statista Research Department 2023.

Studying abroad in the US is the dream of many students and I don’t see why not. There are so many opportunities for one to explore aside from the world-class education and widely recognized qualifications you will receive, you also get opportunities to create a network of friends from different parts of the world, work alongside world-renowned professors, learn a new culture, etc. however, the financial cost can be discouraging.

Even for US citizens, college is expensive talk more of international students but the cost does not affect domestic students because there are particular financial aid for them provided by the US Government, financial institutions, charity, businesses, and individuals. These financial aids include FAFSA, low-interest student loans, Pell Grant, and other scholarships offered by US colleges.

Yes, most scholarships in the US are for its citizens but international students are not left out either. There are scholarships in the US for international students and you can find them in various of fields like nursing, law, public health, and even sports scholarships. There are so many of them reserved for international students and through this guide, you will learn how to get them.

As an international student with hopes of studying in the US, scholarships can be an invaluable help toward financing your goals. Whether you are an incoming first-year, student going on to graduate school, or simply returning to college for a new year, there is financial assistance out there for you and this article will guide you through the process of receiving a scholarship.

Applying for scholarships in the US as an international student can be a daunting task. You just don’t know where to start. It’s like there is too much information which can be overwhelming and leaves you confused. Rather than help create clarity and push you closer towards your dream, more confusion is created which takes you farther away from your goal. Yea, I know that feeling and it is not a very good one.

Don’t worry, this guide on how to get a scholarship in the USA for international students will offer you direct and precise clarity, clear away any doubts and confusions you may have getting scholarships in the US as an international student, and draw you closer to achieving your goals. So, sit back, relax, and read through the guide carefully.

how to get scholarship in USA for international students

How To Get a Scholarship In the USA For International Students

Public or state universities in the US charge overseas students an annual tuition fee ranging from $8,000 to $35,000 while private universities charge them between $25,000 to over $55,000 based on various factors like degree program and duration. However, this is a lot of money and many prospective international students who want to study in the US cannot afford them.

Fortunately, there are scholarships in USA for international students that can help cut down the cost of tuition. Now, applying for those scholarships is where most students are handicapped, it just seems like there is not enough information to guide them through the process. This is why we have created this step-by-step guide on how to get a scholarship in the USA for international students, providing easy-to-understand points to apply for scholarships and be one step closer to achieving your goal.

The scholarships in America for international students are from different donors such as colleges and universities, charities, businesses and firms, individuals, and organizations. Therefore, the scholarships have different requirements and eligibility criteria that you must meet to be considered for the award. Their criteria are typically based on merit like academic or athletic excellence, financial need, or both.

Some scholarships target a specific population or students from a specific country like scholarships in the US for African students, which means only African students can apply for them. This is why you have to read the requirements of every US scholarship very carefully before applying to ensure that you fit in. Applying for a scholarship that you are not eligible for is a waste of time and resources, you will never be considered for the award.

Before we get on to those points, let’s see the requirements and eligibility criteria you need to satisfy to be considered for scholarships in the USA.

Requirements to Apply for Scholarships in USA for International Students

I did mention earlier that the requirements and criteria for international students to apply for scholarships in the US vary because the scholarships are provided by different sources who set their requirements. However, there are basic or general requirements that you need to know to prepare you for the scholarship application process. These requirements are:

1.     Proof of English language

If you are from a non-English speaking country or your first language is not English you will be required to demonstrate your proficiency in the English language by taking English language proficiency tests like IELTS or TOEFL. The test scores will be submitted during admission and scholarship application. For the English language proficiency test, each school set its aggregate score. You will need to inquire from your school what the aggregate school should be.

2.     Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are among the requirements to apply for scholarships in the US. Depending on the scholarship provider, you may be required to provide 2 or 3 recommendation letters. These letters can be gotten from past employers, secondary school teachers, professors, coaches, or clergy. The scholarship usually states where you should get the letter of recommendation from and the amount that is required. It is typically between 1-3.

3.     Motivation Letter/Statement of Purpose

A motivation letter or statement of purpose is your chance to express yourself to the scholarship committee. You write, free of grammatical errors, why you think you are a good fit for the scholarship, how you will represent the school, and your contributions to the school if you receive the scholarship. Clearly describe your qualities as well. Scholarships usually require either a motivation letter or a statement of purpose but some will require both.

All these will be clearly stated in the requirements or eligibility criteria section of the scholarship page.

4.     Copy of Academic Report or Transcript

Scholarships that are awarded based on academic merit will want to see current or past academic records of candidates to ensure you are academically a good fit. Therefore, you will be required to submit your transcripts from previously attended institutions or your current academic report which will be used to assess your academic abilities.

Even if the scholarship is not awarded based on merit, it is important that you have a high GPA between 2.0 – 3.75 and this can even be higher.

5.     Standardized Test Scores

Standardized tests are GRE/GMAT and ACT or SAT. GRE scores are used for entrance into business schools while GMAT scores are for entry into various graduate programs. ACT or SAT scores are required to enter any US undergraduate degree program and to assess international students for scholarships. International students looking to study abroad in the US on scholarships are required to take a standardized test and pass the aggregate score as set by the institution.

This aggregate score varies from school to school so contact your host institution to inquire about their aggregate score on the exam you are taking whether it is the GMAT or GRE, SAT or ACT. However, some schools in the US do not make use of any of these standardized tests, they have their internal entrance exams they use to assess candidates for admission and scholarships.

Did you know? As an international student, you can get a full scholarship based on your SAT score. To read more about it, click here.

6.     Demonstrated Leadership Skills or Volunteering Experience

 Demonstrated leadership skills, experience in volunteering, participation in extracurricular activities, and involvement in community service are common requirements for scholarships in the US for international students. You must see at least one of them in every scholarship.

If you have none of these, you can start now by building it up. Engage in community service in your locality and volunteer for an organization like an NGO to gain experience. You can complete all of these within a short period, say a few weeks so that you can stand out in your application for scholarships.

7.     Demonstrated Financial Need

The two major criteria for offering scholarships in the US are financial need and merit which is excellent performance or achievement in academics, music, sports, arts, or a particular talent. Now, for scholarships awarded based on financial need, your academic performance, record, or achievement may not be so high or will not be taken into consideration.

Rather the scholarship will concentrate on your financial circumstances whether you are from a poor background, a low-income household, a third-world country a developing country, or a war-torn country. If you fall under any of these categories then you will qualify for a need-based scholarship. Your financial need is demonstrated to the scholarship committee when you provide your financial statement.

In some cases, applicants with financial needs will also be required to be in good academic standing.

8.     Scholarship Essay

Essays are important requirements in scholarships, you will rarely not see it and this is because scholarship committees or donors use it to get a good “look” into the life of the student. They want to see you the way you see yourself and that is the need of a scholarship essay.

Don’t worry, scholarship donors provide the topic for the scholarship essay it is not like you have to source it on your own. Ensure that your essay is free of grammatical errors, and plagiarism, and does not exceed the number of words as required by the scholarship.

So, these are the basic requirements for scholarships in USA for international students there could be more like a government-issued ID, a student visa – of course, or else you can’t even enter the country to study – and a passport photograph.

The following are points or steps to get scholarships in the USA as an international student:

Point 1: Ask Your School

Schools are goldmines for scholarships for international students. The first step you want to take or the first point you want to note down in getting a scholarship in the US is to ask your preferred host institution(s) about scholarships available for international students and how you can apply for them.

According to the US News & World Report, schools tend to be one of the best resources to find scholarships for international students., therefore, it is recommended that you contact the financial aid office of your host institution and use search tools like to find out about scholarships awarded by colleges and universities in the US.

Point 2: Carefully Review and Satisfy all Scholarship Requirements/Criteria

The requirements and eligibility criteria of every scholarship vary. Each scholarship donor or committee sets their requirements and eligibility criteria as they deem fit it is now left for you to meet those requirements. Failure to meet them means your application will not be considered.

Satisfy the requirements for all the scholarships you wish to apply for to increase your chances and make you a strong applicant for the award. I listed the basic requirements above but there could be more or fewer requirements depending on the scholarship you are applying for.

Point 3: Apply for External Sources of Funding or External Scholarships

Internal sources of funding or internal scholarships are provided by colleges and universities but there are external scholarships provided by sources other than schools. International students are encouraged to apply for these external scholarships to get more funding. These external scholarships are provided by the following sources in the US:

  • Humphrey Fellowship
  • ACI Foundation
  • AAUW International Fellowships
  • The Clark Global Award Program
  • MasterCard Foundation
  • Dell Scholars Program
  • Rotary Peace Fellowship
  • Foreign Fullbright Student Program.

The more scholarship funds you get for college, the better.

Point 4: Leadership and Volunteering

US scholarships are very broad and offered in a wide array of categories. You can receive a fully-funded scholarship because you volunteered for some kind of social organization or engaged in extracurricular activities like sports, debate, or drama. Leadership and volunteering are weighed significantly for scholarship decisions.

If your academics is not excellent but good and you possess leadership qualities and volunteered for a social organization like an NGO, there are special scholarships for you to study abroad in the US. If you are a member of the Red Cross organization, Girls Guide, debate club, sports team, etc. and you have made significant contributions as a member of any of these organizations or societies, you can receive scholarships to study abroad in the US.

If you participated in a community event in your locality like maybe you are part of the committee that set up the street carnival or some social event, you can use this to apply for scholarships in the US. Your participation in extracurricular activities outside school such as fishing, hunting, trapshooting, etc. can earn you scholarships in the US.

If you are engaged in any of the activities above, there are specific scholarships for you regarding those activities. There is no need for you to start searching for them, we’ve got you covered:

Even if you created, built, or developed some kind of invention you can make use of that remarkable achievement to receive a scholarship.

However, you need to include your experience and achievements in your essay and statement of purpose. Also add them to your CV or resume, if there are pictures and videos to back up your experiences, don’t hesitate to add them. Don’t leave out any information, no matter how tiny it may seem, concerning your voluntary experience.

Point 5: Achievements, Publications, and Recognitions

Here is another way to get a scholarship to study abroad in the US. Your achievement in sports for example can help you get a scholarship in the US. And it is not just sport alone, whatever organization you are a part of and you made significant achievements as a member, you can be able to get a scholarship in the US. Even an achievement like first class in your class or being the best graduating student can earn you a scholarship to study abroad in the US.

Your publications like final year project reports, essays, debates, etc. are also considered in your scholarship, they are components that make your scholarship application stronger and set you apart from the crowd. However, ensure you provide documentation with proof of any kind if you have with the application.

Point 6: Prepare Application Materials

In a bid to avoid submitting a rushed application, you must start gathering your application materials on time because it can take more than expected to get all of these things. The common application materials for scholarships are transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays, personal statements, etc. these materials may vary but most scholarships require these.

So, get to know the necessary scholarship application materials and start calling them ready on time to avoid any last-minute rush. These scholarships in the US for international students are very competitive, trust me, you do not want to submit an incomplete application or one that you prepared last minute.

Point 7: Submit your Application for Scholarship

Once you have all the documents prepared and meet the requirements for that particular scholarship, it is time to apply. Application for scholarships is typically online and it is such a simple step where you will fill out the scholarship application form and upload the required documents, and that’s it. Next, you wait for a response.

Point 8: Follow Up

Last but not least how to get scholarships in USA for international students is to follow up on your application.

Applying for the scholarship(s) is not the end, but that doesn’t mean you should relax. You have to follow up on your application by contacting the scholarship committee either through email or phone call, every scholarship donor provides contact information on their scholarship page. Get the contact and reach out to them concerning your application to be sure it has been received and is being considered.


Studying in the USA as an international student can be a life-changing experience, but it can also be costly. Scholarships can make all the difference in making your dreams a reality. By researching your options, preparing your application, and staying positive, you can greatly increase your chances of receiving a scholarship. Just be sure to apply early and stand out from the crowd.

Keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all solution – each scholarship has its own requirements and selection process. The important thing is to never give up on your dreams. With hard work and determination, anything is possible. And remember, as they say in the land of opportunity, the early bird gets the worm – or in this case, the scholarship!