HomeNewsScholarships for Students Studying Abroad: A Comprehensive Guide

Scholarships for Students Studying Abroad: A Comprehensive Guide

Studying abroad can be one of the most rewarding and life-changing experiences for a student. However, it often comes with a high price tag, which can deter many students from pursuing overseas education. Scholarships aimed at students who want to study abroad provide invaluable financial assistance to make their dreams a reality.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover the ins and outs of scholarships for studying abroad, including the different types available, eligibility criteria, top scholarships, application timeline and tips, and frequently asked questions.

Why Consider Studying Abroad?

There are many excellent reasons why students should consider incorporating overseas education into their academic journey:

  • Immerse in a new culture: Studying abroad gives students the chance to be fully immersed in the history, traditions, language, and everyday life of a different country. This cultural exposure can lead to personal growth, understanding, and adaptability.
  • Travel opportunities: Students can take advantage of proximity to visit other countries and cities near where they are studying during breaks. This makes studying abroad an unparalleled travel opportunity.
  • Stand out academically: Overseas education helps students stand out when applying for jobs and graduate schools. Adding an international study experience to their resumes demonstrates independence, intercultural skills, and a global perspective that employers and admissions officers find valuable.
  • Personal development: Being out of one’s comfort zone while navigating daily life in a foreign setting does wonders for developing real-world skills, problem-solving abilities, independence, confidence, and maturity.
  • Gain a global perspective: International education exposes students to different worldviews and perspectives. Engaging with diversity promotes open-mindedness and encourages students to think outside the box.
  • Foreign language skills: Studying abroad is the best way to rapidly gain fluency in a foreign language. Full immersion accelerates proficiency exponentially.

Types of Study Abroad Scholarships

There are many different types of scholarships available for students planning to study overseas. The categories include:

  • Merit-based scholarships: Awarded based on academic achievements, extracurricular involvement, leadership experience, volunteer work, and other qualifications.
  • Destination-specific scholarships: Offered for studying in a particular country/region or city.
  • Program-specific scholarships: Tied to a particular study abroad program offered through a student’s home university.
  • Foreign language study scholarships: For students learning specific languages abroad like Spanish, French, Mandarin, Arabic, etc.
  • Field of study scholarships: Offered for studying particular subjects abroad like STEM, business, public health, education, arts, etc.
  • Home state or city scholarships: For residents of a particular state or city in the U.S.
  • University scholarships: Offered through the abroad/international programs office of the student’s home university.
  • Host university scholarships: Offered by the overseas university where the student intends to study.
  • External organization scholarships: Provided by governmental, non-profit, and private institutions like Rotary, Fulbright, etc.
  • Needs-based scholarships: For students who demonstrate financial need.
  • Diversity scholarships: Aimed at making study abroad more accessible for minority and underrepresented groups.
  • Women-focused scholarships: Designed to empower female students to pursue overseas education.

So in summary, study abroad scholarships can be categorized by merit, destination, program, field of study, residency, granting organization, financial need, diversity status, gender, and other criteria. Students should target relevant scholarships based on their individual profiles and study plans.

Study Abroad Scholarship Eligibility

Eligibility criteria for study abroad scholarships can vary greatly depending on the specific award. However, some typical requirements include:

  • Being enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college/university in the U.S.
  • Being a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or holder of a valid student visa.
  • Meeting a minimum GPA requirement (often 2.5 or higher).
  • Being able to demonstrate financial need (for needs-based scholarships).
  • Planning to study abroad for an entire semester, academic year, or summer.
  • Being willing to share the study abroad experience upon return through presentations, blogs, social media, etc.
  • Showing how studying abroad aligns with academic and career goals.
  • Submitting a complete scholarship application by the deadline.
  • Having acceptance into a study abroad program at the time of applying for scholarships.
  • Meeting any additional eligibility criteria outlined for a specific scholarship such as field of study, destination country, language proficiency, etc.

Some scholarships require nomination by the student’s home university while others allow direct applications. Students should thoroughly review requirements for each scholarship before applying to ensure eligibility.

Top Study Abroad Scholarships

Here are some of the major and most prestigious scholarships available for U.S. students wanting to incorporate international education into their academic journeys:

Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Provider: U.S. Department of State

Amount: Varies by award, covers travel, living stipend, health insurance, etc.

Destinations: 140+ countries

Duration: One academic year

Eligibility: U.S. citizenship, bachelor’s degree, proficiency in destination country language, good academic standing

Deadline: Varies by campus, usually in September/October

Gilman Scholarship


Provider: U.S. Department of State

Amount: Up to $5,000 for U.S. undergraduates receiving Pell Grants

Destinations: 120+ countries

Duration: Semester or academic year

Eligibility: U.S. citizenship, Pell Grant recipient, acceptance into a study abroad program

Deadline: Early March (for summer/fall), Early October (for winter/spring)

Freeman-ASIA Scholarship

Provider: Freeman Foundation

Amount: Up to $7,000 for Asia study abroad

Destinations: East/Southeast Asian countries

Duration: Summer, semester, or academic year

Eligibility: U.S. undergraduates with demonstrated financial need

Deadline: Mid-late February

Boren Awards for International Study

Provider: U.S. Department of Defense

Amount: Undergraduates can receive up to $20,000. Graduate funding levels vary by program length.

Destinations: Areas critical to U.S. interests including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East

Duration: Summer, semester, or academic year

Eligibility: U.S. undergraduate/graduate students. Undergrads must study language integral to region.

Deadline: January/February

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

Provider: U.S. Department of State

Amount: Up to $5,000 for Pell Grant recipients. Up to $3,000 for non-Pell Grant recipients.

Destinations: 125+ countries

Duration: Semester or academic year

Eligibility: Undergraduate U.S. citizen. Must be receiving Federal Pell Grant funding.

Deadline: Early March and October

Fund for Education Abroad Scholarships

Provider: Fund for Education Abroad

Amount: Up to $10,000

Destinations: Anywhere

Duration: Minimum one semester

Eligibility: Undergrads of all disciplines. Financial need and diversity considered.

Deadline: January

Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grants

Provider: Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi

Amount: $1,000

Destinations: Anywhere

Duration: Any

Eligibility: Society member in good standing. Undergrads/graduate students.

Deadline: Varies by chapter

Global Citizen Year Fellowship

Provider: Global Citizen Year

Amount: Up to 90% of program costs covered

Destinations: Brazil, Ecuador, India, Senegal

Duration: 11 months

Eligibility: No need to know language. Demonstrate leadership experience.

Deadline: November/December

Critical Language Scholarship (CLS)

Provider: U.S. Department of State

Amount: Fully covers summer language study abroad

Destinations: 14 critical language destinations

Duration: 7-10 weeks during summer

Eligibility: U.S. undergrad/graduate students

Deadline: November

Go Overseas Study Abroad Scholarships

Provider: Go Overseas

Amount: $1,000

Destinations: Anywhere

Duration: Any

Eligibility: Must write study abroad scholarship essay

Deadline: March

CIEE Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship

Provider: CIEE

Amount: Covers summer study abroad program fees, housing, stipend

Destinations: Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, Senegal, South Africa

Duration: 6-10 weeks during summer

Eligibility: Underrepresented U.S. students with financial need

Deadline: January

SIT Study Abroad Scholarships

Provider: SIT Study Abroad

Amount: Up to $5,000 per student

Destinations: Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East

Duration: Summer, semester, or academic year

Eligibility: For diverse, high-achieving students with financial need

Deadline: Varies by scholarship

This list of top study abroad scholarships just scratches the surface of what is out there for U.S. students looking to fund overseas academic experiences. Some other excellent scholarship sources include Diversity Abroad, iie, API, AIFS, and CEA Study Abroad.

Study Abroad Scholarships Application Timeline

Applying for scholarships to fund study abroad requires advance preparation and planning. Here is a general timeline international educators recommend:

12-18 months before study abroad: Start researching scholarship options based on your target country/program and eligibility. Ask your study abroad office and academic advisors for suggestions.

10-12 months before: Create a spreadsheet to track scholarships, requirements, deadlines, needed application materials etc.

8-10 months before: Request letters of recommendation from professors, coaches, volunteer supervisors, employers etc. Give them at least one month’s notice.

6 months before: Start drafting scholarship essays. Reflect on how studying abroad fits into your academic and career aspirations. Have others proofread them.

4 months before: Confirm the study abroad program and country where you intend to study. Have a back-up option too.

3 months before: Submit scholarship applications and request transcripts where required. Verify receipt and completeness of all application materials including recommendations.

1 month before: Follow up on any remaining scholarship applications. Send thank you notes to your references.

After acceptance: Inform scholarship providers about which you ultimately select. Send results to your study abroad office and student financial services.

Applying for scholarships is like applying for college admissions. The more time, effort, and advance planning students put in, the higher their chances of success.

Tips for Winning Study Abroad Scholarships

Here are some pro tips to help students submit strong scholarship applications and maximize their chances of earning awards to fund their international studies:

  • Start early: Give yourself at least 6 months to research and apply for relevant scholarships. Plan 12-18 months in advance if aiming for major awards like Fulbright.
  • Follow instructions carefully: Adhere to all requirements, word limits, formatting guidelines, and deadlines for each scholarship. Carelessness can lead to disqualification.
  • Get competitive scores/grades: GPA requirements vary but at least 3.5 and above makes you highly competitive. Take language proficiency tests early if required.
  • Craft compelling essays: Share personal anecdotes and insights into how studying abroad will impact your academics, career, and worldviews. Show passion.
  • Obtain strong recommendation letters: Ask professors, mentors, coaches etc. who know you well to tailor letters to relevant scholarships.
  • Build an impressive profile: Scholarships look for outstanding students. Have robust community service, leadership experience, extracurriculars etc.
  • Apply to multiple scholarships: Don’t rely on a single scholarship. Apply to as many as you are eligible for to increase odds of earning funding.
  • Express financial need: For need-based scholarships, explain your financial situation articulately. Include family income, costs you expect to incur, etc.
  • Follow up and confirm: Verify application receipt and completeness. Send polite reminders as deadlines approach. Confirm final decisions.

With meticulous preparation, strategic planning, and persistence, students can secure generous scholarships to turn their study abroad dreams into reality.

Study Abroad Scholarships Comparison Tables

Scholarships for Semester/Academic Year Abroad

Scholarship Provider Amount Eligibility Destinations Deadline
Fulbright Student Program U.S. Dept. of State Varies U.S. citizens, bachelor’s degree 140+ countries Campus deadlines (Sept/Oct)
Gilman Scholarship U.S. Dept. of State Up to $5,000 Pell Grant recipients 125+ countries Early March, early October
Freeman-ASIA Scholarship Freeman Foundation Up to $7,000 U.S. undergrads with need East/Southeast Asia Mid-late February
Boren Awards U.S. Dept. of Defense Up to $20,000 U.S undergrads/grads Worldwide January/February
Fund for Education Abroad FEA Up to $10,000 Undergrads all disciplines Anywhere January
Phi Kappa Phi Grants Honor Society $1,000 Society members Anywhere Varies by chapter
SIT Study Abroad SIT Up to $5,000 Diverse, high-achieving Worldwide Varies

Scholarships for Summer Study Abroad

Scholarship Provider Amount Eligibility Destinations Deadline
Critical Language Scholarship U.S. Dept. of State Full program costs U.S. undergrads/grads Critical languages November
Gilman Scholarship U.S. Dept. of State Up to $5,000 Pell Grant recipients 125+ countries Early March
Boren Awards U.S. Dept. of Defense Varies U.S undergrads/grads Worldwide January/February
CIEE Frederick Douglass Fellowship CIEE Full program costs Underrepresented U.S. students 6 countries January
Go Overseas Go Overseas $1,000 Must write essay Anywhere March

Frequently Asked Questions About Study Abroad Scholarships

Here are answers to some common questions students have about funding overseas education through scholarships:

How many study abroad scholarships should I apply for?

Apply to as many scholarships as you are eligible for and genuinely interested in. More applications means more chances to win. Have at least 10-15 target scholarships, along with backup options.

When should I start applying for study abroad scholarships?

Start planning 12-18 months in advance for major scholarships. For others, begin researching and applying 8-12 months before your intended study abroad timeframe.

Can I study abroad without scholarships?

Yes, but you’ll need savings, income, loans, and/or family assistance to fund all costs. Thoroughly analyze your budget and options before committing to unfunded study abroad.

Where can I find study abroad scholarships?

Your university’s study abroad office, government websites, study abroad program providers, external scholarship databases, your academic department, student organizations, employers, and community groups.

How can I get college credit and scholarships for studying abroad?

Enroll directly in an overseas university or through a study abroad program sponsored by your home institution. Then apply for relevant study abroad scholarships.

What information is required for study abroad scholarship applications?

Typical requirements are transcripts, acceptance into a study abroad program, letters of recommendation, essays, resume, FAFSA form, and income information for needs-based aid.

Can I use federal/state financial aid for study abroad?

Yes, if you study abroad through an eligible program sponsored by your home university. Grants, loans, and scholarships can transfer. Consult your study abroad and financial aid offices.

Are summer study abroad scholarships available?

Yes, many scholarships fund summer international programs, though academic year and semester-long scholarships are more common. Popular summer awards are Gilman, Boren, and Critical Language Scholarships.

Studying abroad is an invaluable experience but can have hefty costs. With proper planning and persistence, scholarships make overseas studies financially feasible for students by covering anything from airfare and tuition to visa fees, insurance, housing, meals, and more. There are abundant funding opportunities for diverse destinations, program durations, fields of study, and student profiles if you do your research.


The benefits of studying abroad are immense, but so too can be the financial barriers, especially for students with limited means. Thankfully, there are numerous scholarship opportunities targeted at opening up international education and experiences to all motivated students. With early planning and diligence, funding your dream study abroad program through scholarships is very achievable. Refer frequently to this comprehensive guide during your scholarship application journey.




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