Get a Scholarship in the United States
Get a Scholarship in the United States

Tips to get a scholarship in the United States

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Are we going to start the year with a scholarship in the United States? Then follow our guide with the most important tips for researching, planning and applying to study in the United States with financial aid.

Tips to get a scholarship in the United States

Tips to get a scholarship in the United States
Tips to get a scholarship in the United States

1. Pay attention to the application deadline

You’ll spend a lot of time preparing – studying for exams, practicing your English, preparing all your documents and writing your personal statement – but none of it will be worth it if you don’t submit your application on time.

Therefore, the first step when identifying a scholarship that interests you is to know the application deadline. And do not confuse the term for the course with the term for the scholarship: they are almost always different things, except in the cases that are explained in point 3.

First, try to start the process as soon as possible, if possible a year in advance. To do this, you have to know how the entire scholarship calendar works:

  • What day the application is opened;
  • When can I request it?
  • What documents do I need to provide;
  • What are the dates of the official exams (such as SAT and TOEFL) that are required for selection.

Create your own calendar of important dates, organize yourself and manage your time efficiently so that, when applications are opened, you can present yourself in the first days without major setbacks.

In some cases, even when requests are reviewed and granted as they arrive, requesting them in advance can be an advantage.

2. Where should I apply first?

If you have funding for scholarships to study in the United States, we recommend that you contact the university of your interest directly (or more than one, if you want to have more possibilities) and inform them of your situation.

Some institutions only accept ‘fully funded’ applicants, which means that applicants must demonstrate that they can pay for their studies. But many also allow you to apply for a program before obtaining a scholarship, as long as you notify them as soon as possible if you have to reject your place, in case of being selected for the course, due to lack of funding.

If you do not get a scholarship, you still have time to cancel your enrollment in the university or find an alternative method of financing before the semester begins.

3. No request

However, it is very common for the university itself to offer some type of scholarship or tuition discount to its qualified students. And the vast majority of them don’t even require a separate application: just apply to the undergraduate or graduate school that interests you and have all the necessary requirements.

How to find them? Visit the official website of the university and look for the scholarship page, usually called Scholarship or Financial Aid. Scholarships that do not require a separate application are often called entrance or admission scholarships.

4. The two main types of scholarships

In general, there are two most common types of scholarships in the United States (and abroad): those based on merit and those based on financial need:

  • Merit-Based Scholarships: Scholarships based on academic merit select the students with the best previous school performance and the best future academic potential, usually with the best grades on their transcript.
  • Scholarships based on need: are those granted to students who demonstrate financial need, that is, who cannot pay for university tuition. These scholarships determine the qualification of candidates based on family income, statement of financial support, bank statements and / or other documents.

5. Scholarship for specific talents

There are also colleges and programs that offer scholarships to applicants with specific talents and backgrounds, although they are much less frequent than those of merit and need.

Look for athletic or athletic scholarship opportunities, which are very common in the United States, where playing sports is highly valued from an early age and there are college leagues like the NCAA. Or if you already have a musical or artistic background, for example, there are also some opportunities.

6. Admission requirements

There are a large number of scholarships available to international students in the United States, each with its own criteria and admission requirements.

Do you have everything you need to have to be selected? Check all criteria carefully. If you don’t have them all, you won’t be able to apply for a scholarship. The absence of a single requirement usually means automatic disqualification and all your effort will be in vain.

7. Your performance in the institute

Since the selection process in the United States is holistic and involves much more than a score on a standardized test – as in the case of the vestibular one – what you do throughout the three years of high school does influence your chances of admission in the country and also to get a scholarship (read below about the GPA).

Although the last year is the most important, your high school grades can make the difference when it comes to getting a scholarship on merits. So when we say “start preparing early,” we are saying that you also have to maintain good performance throughout high school.

8. Standardized tests

What evidence does the scholarship program or your American university require for selection? Check this information in advance to be able to study and plan ahead to do them before the deadline.

Having a good score on the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, IELTS or TOEFL, for example, depending on your major and level of studies, will always increase your chances of getting a scholarship.

If you do not do very well in the exams (and nothing happens, sometimes we get nervous), in this case, we advise you to try even more in your grades and in your performance in high school to achieve a GPA (Grade Point Average) high.

9. Leadership and extracurricular activities

Their extracurricular activities are highly valued in the United States. It is no wonder that American students, beginning in elementary school, participate in associations, student clubs, and activities of all kinds beyond the classroom.

Leadership potential and volunteer work are also evaluated when applying for scholarships, especially those based on merit. In fact, there are even specific scholarships for those with great leadership skills, called Leadership Scholarships.

Universities are interested in graduating global citizens who make positive contributions to society. If you can show that you are on the right track even before you start your academic studies, you will surely have an advantage in the selection.

How? Doing a volunteer in your school or city; creating an awareness group on an issue that is important to you (for example, emotional well-being or social inequality); getting involved in an NGO or a school organization, etc.

This will help you even when you ask someone to write your reference letter. In general, it has to be a teacher, a coordinator or any leadership figure that can vouch for your performance, your skills and your commitment.

Oh, and it is even more valid if your extracurricular activity or volunteer work is related to the academic field you plan to study in the United States.

10. Where to find scholarships

In general, you should look for three types of scholarships:

  • Governmental: granted by either the United States government or your home country. Check the official government website regularly.
  • External programs: Specific scholarship programs, such as the Fulbright program and others.
  • University scholarships: Scholarships offered directly by the American university itself.


Some basic questions before applying for any scholarship:

  1. Do you have the right qualification?
  2. Do you know the application deadline?
  3. Do you have all the necessary information?
  4. Do you have all the necessary requirements and documents?
  5. Will you have to take an English test? If so, what is the minimum expected result?
  6. Is it necessary to make a scholarship application or just passing the selection process for a bachelor’s degree at the university is it automatically considered for a scholarship?
  7. Will you have to submit letters of reference? If so, who should write them?
  8. Can you prove your academic performance? Or financial need?

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