Scholarships for foreign undergraduate students in US
In the United States, Scholarships are of two types, for both domestic and international students: one is academic and the other is need-based. Academic scholarships, also known as institutional aid, are ubiquitous and available to students who are talented and show promise. Note there is nothing like international scholarships from universities. All students are considered for merit or academic scholarships as per funds available. Generally, academic brilliance, student specific profile and SAT score are the primary criteria considered for scholarships. Undergraduate scholarships for international students do not take race or color into consideration. It should be noted that if a student is not given a scholarship at the time of admission, chances are very low that he or she would gain a scholarship after joining university. Generally, scholarships are awarded for all four years of undergraduate study and one has to maintain full-time student status as well as a minimum Grade Point Average, usually a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. These criteria may differ from university to university; read the admission letter carefully to understand the rules. Further, one does not need to complete any additional forms to qualify for academic scholarships as these are granted based on the merits of an applicant, as stated above. However, there are some universities, such as the University of Southern California, that have a separate, earlier, deadline if one wants to avail of the academic scholarship.
On the other hand, for need-based scholarships prospective international students may be required to fill out the ISFAA (International Student Financial Aid application) or the CSS (Certification of Finances Form). Generally, it is the CSS profile that universities consider. CSS Profile is distributed by nonprofit College Board, which also administers the SAT. Students provide data comprising the family's financials for the university to calculate need-based eligibility. Please understand that in a majority of the cases international students do not qualify for need-based scholarships as the parents usually do not fall below the cutoff line for income. In very rare cases do universities give full scholarships to international students, although some universities, Yale for one, claim a need-blind policy. For these colleges, one needs to investigate further before accepting the information on face value. Many universities tend to favor U.S. citizens or permanent residents for need-based
scholarships. State schools, also known as public universities, give preference to residents from their own state in awarding scholarships. Parents mistakenly assume that a good academic combined with a high SAT score qualifies for a scholarship. In reality, this is only the beginning. What universities are looking for is a unique resume, one which goes much beyond the scores - there is no strict definition for what makes an application unique. This is where Uwezo comes into the picture, helping you construct a profile which stands out from the rest of the crowd. Of course, world class essays and recommendation letters play a big part in getting a scholarship.
US Citizens and permanent residents can apply for both need-based scholarships, grants, work-study and loans by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Foreign students are not eligible for applying through FAFSA.
Some schools such as Princeton, NYU and others will have aid application forms specific to the school. These need to be submitted along with the application. Students need to contact schools directly and review the university specific requirements in applying for student aid. Note, this is over and above the submission of CSS Profile.
It is important to understand that not all universities offer scholarships or may offer limited amounts. If you or your parents are in a situation in which you require a certain level of scholarship, you’ll need to conduct in-depth research to identify universities that suit your financial needs. An expert counseling service, such as Uwezo, can certainly help in this regard and give you peace of mind.