Do you have any idea what 15.6 billion Euros represents? Well, this is the approximate value of scholarships available for international students every year! And this is just in Europe.
But which scholarship is the right one for you? You will discover that scholarships can be very different, depending on individual needs and the best scholarship to fit you, might be completely different for your best friends! That's why you should check all the possible options.
Even if you benefit from low tuition fees or don't have to pay for tuition at all when you study abroad, you need all the financial support you can get, to pay for your monthly living costs for instance. Scholarships are the most common and well-known financial form of aid that you can apply for.
Along with the various types of scholarships, today, you can also apply to several other types of financial support. Let's see which are they and how can you benefit from them.
1. Merit-based scholarships (fellowships)
The merit-based scholarships are awarded based on a number of criteria including academics, achievements, hobbies, talents, affiliations with various groups or career aspirations. These scholarships can be offered by the federal and state government, large corporations, local businesses, professional organisations or universities.
Each scholarship has its own eligibility criteria which must be met.
Scholarships offered by universities
The criteria by which universities offer scholarships are usually: academic excellence, students have to be under a certain age limit (for example under 35 years of age). In addition, you will find out there are special scholarship offers for each level of degree.
In Switzerland, for example, you may find more scholarships available for a PhD and less for a Bachelor or Master degree.
In some of the international universities, costs of the accommodation and health insurance can be covered by the scholarship.
In Sweden, the scholarship covers tuition fee, living expenses, some travel grants and insurance.
In France, some of the scholarship-holders receive a monthly allowance and the scholarship also covers other expenses such as return trip, health insurance and cultural activities, but it does not cover tuition fees.
Here are examples of European universities that provide the largest number of scholarships:
- University of Oxford, the UK;
- University of Bristol the UK;
- Utrecht University, the Netherlands;
- University of Bologna, Italy;
- Uppsala University, Sweden.
Scholarships offered by the government
Normally, the scholarship holders are exempt from the payment of the university tuition fees. Most of these scholarships last for three, six, or nine months.
Some of the mandatory criteria by which you can receive this scholarship are:
- educational qualification required by the chosen institution
- knowledge of a certain language (the language of instruction used in the programme that you applied for)
Often times, the students also have to come under an age limit.
In the UK, some of the government scholarships cover the following:
- tuition fees
- a monthly living allowance
- an economy class return airfare to and from the UK
- additional grants and allowances to cover essential expenditure.
Read more about popular scholarship international students apply to for studying in the UK.
If you simply want to practice a sport and be a member of the college or university team, you can qualify for a scholarship, most times offered by your college/university. The good news is you don't necessarily have to be very good at the sport you practice.
Sometimes local groups or different organisations may offer these sports scholarships and they usually look at criteria such as community service.
Check these American universities that offer numerous scholarships to international students:
2. Specific scholarships
Most of the specific scholarships are given to students with a certain ethnic background or family affiliations. These type of scholarships are designed to benefit gender or ethnic minorities. For this reason, you will find a number of scholarships specifically dedicated to African-Americans, Asian-Americans or Hispanics.
In some countries (Belgium, France, U.S. etc.), the local government provides scholarships to students that come from certain countries. For example, Belgium offers special scholarships to applicants coming from African countries.
These programmes are also meant to help minority students to pursue an education in fields in which they have been historically under-represented.
Some organisations provide scholarships to students with physical disabilities, learning disabilities and debilitating health conditions.
3. Need-based scholarships (grants)
Grants are often called "gift aid" because they are money-free; basically, they are a type of financial aid that doesn't have to be repaid. Compared to scholarships which are usually merit-based, grants (which in some countries are called bursaries) are mostly need-based. Grants or bursaries are usually based on financial circumstances but may also consider other factors.
This form of financial support doesn't need to be paid back and its value most times varies from 500 to 2,500 USD.
In the U.S., the Department of Education offers numerous federal grants to students who attend four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and career schools.
In Germany, different types of merit-based grants are awarded. The amount awarded is often determined through an evaluation of student need (usually ranging from 150 to 820 EUR/month for 12 months). Additional support is determined by assessment of the family financial situation.
Read more about scholarship opportunities in Germany.
Need-based grants are available for students with a low personal/family income, and for students with disabilities.
4. Student loans
Student loans are funds that you have to pay back; they basically function like any other loan, with a few differences. You can get a student loan from the government or a private bank; it can be a bank from your home country or a foreign bank, in the country you wish to pursue your studies. Co-signing (along with parents or legal tutor) is very common for private student loans since most teenagers don't have the credit history to get a loan of such a size.
However, student loans that you can get from the government tend to be more favourable, as the rates are usually lower.
Some loans are based on financial need, while others are much like any other loan and are based on your credit score.
Types of student loans
It would be impossible to cover or to list all the student loans that are available out there, but you can take the ones mentioned below as examples to get you an idea.
In Europe, you can find the Erasmus+ Masters loans scheme that provides EU support for bank loans up to 12,000 EUR for a one-year Master?s degree, or up to 18,000 EUR for a two-year programme.
In the U.S., you can apply for federal loans (supported by the federal government) that have flexible repayment terms, benefits, options and low-interest rates.
Repayment of the student loan
The repayment usually starts within six months after the completion of the degree, also called the grace period. Depending on the amount of the loan, it is requested that you repay the loan within 5 to 10 years, although in certain European countries, you can repay it in 15 years.
If you have taken out a student loan for tuition fees, you don't have to repay the loan until after you finish your studies and you are earning over a certain level of income, called the 'repayment threshold'. For example, in the UK, you can borrow 8,200 GBP, but have to repay this sum once you earn more than 21,000 GBP/year after graduation.
5. Student prizes
The student prizes are exactly what you think: the prize is represented by a certain amount of money, which will not technically support your studies, but it can be considered as a form of financial aid. Student prizes are one-time awards and they can range from a couple of hundred to several thousand Euros.
Student prizes can be offered as follows:
- for academic achievements
- to reward performance in undergraduate examinations
- awarded based on the results of coursework and public examinations
- for the best paper in a wide range of subject areas
- rewarding outstanding work submitted for a dissertation, examination or thesis, as well as for overall performance.
You can also win a prize and be elected to a scholarship for the following year (or given the title of scholar, if you are about to graduate).
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