Today, we are going to look at various ways to fund your education (BS, MBA or MS in USA) through scholarships or study abroad in select countries where education costs are nearly zero (yes, that is correct!).
One of the major challenges of studying abroad is the hefty tuition fee and living expenses that it entails. If we look at the cost of studying in countries like USA and UK, it can go up to 100,000 USD. Hence, it is not surprising that almost every student going abroad looks for financial support.
Without further ado, here is what we cover in this post:
- How can I get scholarship for studying abroad – Steps to find the right scholarship for yourself
- What are the scholarships available for Indian students – A list of generic and country specific scholarships that you can apply to
- How can you study abroad for free – A list of countries where you can practically study for free
How can I get scholarship for studying abroad?
Before we jump into various scholarships, here is our advice on finding the right study abroad scholarship for yourself.
Finding a scholarship is a matter of planning and constant efforts.
- Explore the options in your college or grad school
Contact your target school – usually, they have counselors, financial aid office and career centers which have extensive information available on the financial aid options available to students. You can email them at the time of admission and later on, visit them in person once you arrive on the campus. This ensures that you make a mark on them and they can help you out as soon as something is available.
Additionally, most reputed schools offer some sort of scholarship options (usually need or merit based) which are worth checking out. Here are some examples-
Dartmouth College International Student Scholarship, USA
NYU Wagner Merit Scholarships, USA
Clarendon Fund Scholarships at University of Oxford, UK
Graduate Global Leadership Fellowship, Canada
- Search for external study abroad scholarships
Google your heart out and find various scholarships that are offered by different organizations. For example, we have a list of scholarships available for Indian students right below in this article. Go through many such articles because it will help you in compiling a list of the relevant ones. It is important to mark your calendars with appropriate deadlines so that you don’t miss out applying on time!
- Prepare the documents
Most scholarships ask for the resume, transcripts and proofs of admission which can be prepared in advance. However, it is important that you write each essay separately and make it customized to this particular organization. Just like any employer of college, they want to see that you value them and are genuinely interested in them. If you copy-paste your essays, they can figure it out and it lowers your chances of acceptance.
- Tell your story well
The most important consideration of any application based scholarship is the essay. Make sure you spend some time thinking about it and editing it rather than doing a one-night-job on it. It is your chance to tell your story and if you tell it genuinely, they would want to fund you! – and isn’t that your end goal?
Additional tip for the scholarship essays
Highlight why you deserve this scholarship:
Mention any disadvantages you have faced in completing your education – financial, social or personal
Mention how would you use your education to make a bigger impact – no one wants to fund someone who has only self-interest at their core. They want to enable your education so that you can make a difference. Highlight how you would do that.
- Apply on time
Apply to as many relevant scholarships as you can. Many scholarships also ask for interviews before announcing the final results. Usually, the interviews are centered around your application and checking whether you would put the scholarships money to good use. If you have done the essays diligently, interviews should be a cakewalk for you. However, it is important to not take them casually. After all, it is a question of real money at stake!
What study abroad scholarships are available for Indian students?
Scholarships are great to get if there are no strings attached. However, in my experience of 15 years, I have noticed there is no free lunch. Almost all the scholarships have some kind of strings attached – some are interest-free loans disguised as scholarship (eg. J N Tata Loan Endowment Scholarship), some are contingent on you studying particular stream of subjects, and most are available only to under-privileged families who have no other means of supporting their education.
So, while there appears to be a long list of scholarships advertised in the market, I have found only few to be feasible for an average candidate. Still, if you look closely and go through various forums and keep an eye on the news, you may find something that you can use.
Let’s look at various scholarships that Indian students can avail. Most of them vary in their extent as well criteria for qualification. So, go through the requirements individually and shortlist the ones that can be applicable in your case.
A. Generic scholarships for studying abroad
1. Inlaks Study Abroad Scholarships
How to apply: https://www.inlaksfoundation.org/scholarships/how-to-apply/
Applications Open: 16 January, 2020
Deadline: 31 March, 2020 at 12 noon
Scholarships are granted to bright young Indian students to read at top rated American, European and UK institutions for a full-time Masters, M.Phil or a Doctorate programme.
The Foundation has joint scholarship schemes with Imperial College London, Royal College of Art (RCA) London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) London, University of Cambridge via the Cambridge Trust, Sciences Po, Paris.
Caveat: They do not offer for engineering streams in all the schools. So, check before you apply.
2. Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Programme
How to apply: https://www.akdn.org/our-agencies/aga-khan-foundation/international-scholarship-programme
Deadline for application distribution: 13 March, 2020
Deadline for submitting completed applications: 20 March, 2020
Scholarships are awarded on a 50% grant: 50% loan basis through a competitive application process once a year. The Foundation gives priority to requests for Master’s level courses but is willing to consider applications for PhD programmes, only in the case of outstanding students who are highly recommended for doctoral studies by their professors and who need a PhD for the fulfilment of their career objectives (academic or research oriented)
Caveat: Given to those who have no other means of financing their education.
3. JN Tata Endowment for the Higher Education
How to apply: http://www.jntataendowment.org/loan-scholarship-process
Deadline for application: Candidates who are selected for the next level are intimated over email between March and June. All the Awards will be announced together by the first week of July by email.
One-time loan cum study abroad scholarship ranging from INR 1,00,000 to 10,00,000 along with ‘Travel Grant’ and a ‘Gift Award’- which are linked to their academic performance.
Caveat: Requires you to take Thinking Skills Assessment
Good to know: The scholarship is offered at a simple interest of 2% per annum. However, if students repaid the loan within the specified time period (between the end of 3rd and 7th year), the trustees may waive the interest.
4. Narotam Sekhsaria Scholarship Program
How to apply: https://pg.nsfoundation.co.in/programmes.html
Deadline: 12 March, 2020
While it is not purely a study abroad scholarship, it is designed for students of academic excellence for pursuing postgraduate studies at prestigious institutions in India or abroad. It is a merit-based interest – free loan scholarship.
5. National Overseas Scholarship Scheme by the Indian Government
Covers tuition and educational expenses for the following:
- Belong to Scheduled Castes, Denotified Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes, Landless Agricultural Laborers and Traditional Artisans.
- Scored 55% marks in under graduation (for those applying to Masters) or 55% in Post-Graduation (for those applying for Ph.D.).
- Be below 35 years of age.
- Have a combined family income that is less than Rs. 6, 00,000.
- Not have more than one sibling who got the same scholarship.
6. Fulbright-Nehru MS and Doctoral Research Fellowships
How to apply: http://www.usief.org.in/uploadip/ip2019-20/Flipbook_2019-20_Y%202017_6%20Final.pdf
Deadline: June of the previous year
Offers a monthly stipend, J-1 Visa Support, round-trip economy class air travel, Accident and Sickness Program and modest settling in allowance.
Candidate must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree with 55% aggregate marks. They should also have demonstrated leadership qualities and have 3 years of work experience apart from being committed to return to India and contribute to their community.
7. The Lady Meherbai D Tata Education Trust Study Abroad Scholarships
How to apply: http://tatatrusts.org/section/index/lad-meherbai-tata-education-trust
Deadline: Mid-April, 2020
Scholarships are given only to Indian women graduates who have got their degrees from recognized universities and want to pursue higher education abroad. Applicants should have a consistently good academic record and have 2 years of work experience in the required fields of study.
B. Country specific scholarships for studying abroad
Now, we take a look at some of the country specific scholarships that are given by the governments or agencies in a particular country. The purpose of these scholarships are to encourage incoming students in their schools. For example, British Council offers GREAT scholarship to people coming to study in UK.
1. British Council GREAT Education Full Scholarships
How to apply: https://www.britishcouncil.in/study-uk/scholarships/great-scholarships
Designed for graduate students from India to pursue their dreams of studying abroad. The British Council’s GREAT Education Scholarships have been set up in partnership with 25 leading UK Universities and offer full scholarships to the brightest students across India for various undergraduate and graduate courses in the UK.
2. INSEAD Deepak and Sunita Gupta Endowed Scholarships
How to apply: https://sites.insead.edu/mba/schlmgmt/dsp_schl_info.cfm?schlcode=DG1
Designed for graduate students from developing countries who wish to pursue an INSEAD MBA Program but are constrained by their financial status. Selected scholars under this program receive financial assistance to the tune of EUR 25,000 towards their MBA degree.
3. Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees Scholarships
How to apply: https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/erasmus-plus/emjmd-catalogue_en
EMJMDs are Masters level study programs at institutions across Europe and scholarships are awarded for these programs. Each program has a different deadline for scholarships and hence interested students should keep a check on the official scholarship portal
4. Great Wall Program
How to apply: https://www.china-admissions.com/chinese-scholarships/chinese-government-scholarship-great-wall-program/
This scholarship is aimed at students, from developing countries, who want to study or conduct research in China. It was established by the Chinese Ministry of Education for UNESCO to sponsor students and scholars
5. Orange Tulip Scholarship
How to apply: https://www.nesoindia.org/scholarships/orange-tulip-scholarship-programme
Students applying for the scholarship should be an Indian resident and have been admitted to a Dutch university or be in the process of enrollment in The Netherlands.
6. Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships
How to apply: https://www.scotland.org/study/saltire-scholarships
It offers £8000, towards tuition fees for studying in Master’s programs across Scotland in the areas of science, technology, creative industries, healthcare, and medical sciences, and renewable and clean energy
7. The Heinrich Böll Foundation Scholarship
How to apply: https://www.boell.de/en/foundation/scholarships
€850 per month plus various individual allowances towards studying in Germany. Students applying for the scholarship should have excellent academic records and be able to show written proof of German language proficiency. They should also have demonstrated social and political engagement. This scholarship is given every year to graduates, and doctoral students of all subjects and nationalities. The deadline for application is March 1st
Note: It may look a meagre sum but remember that most of the German programs have already subsidized the tuition fee. Read this post to see if studying in Germany makes sense for you.
How can you study abroad for free?
Believe it or not, it is possible to study abroad in few countries that heavily subsidize their education. If cost is the most important criterion for you, look at these countries first:
Germany is known for its excellent education, and you can practically study for free except paying a low annual administration fee, which is less than €350. See our interview with Sangram who studied at TU Munich.
You can study abroad for free in Norway for just a registration fee of about $50 if you can learn Norwegian! How cool is that? Oh and it is also known as the Land of the Midnight Sun.
The reason Sweden interests me is that it offers a good option to work while you are in school – this can be very helpful in job hunt. If you have a European Union or Swiss passport, you can study in Sweden for free. Other nationals can expect to pay a few thousands dollars a year. And, PhDs are usually fully funded.
Not only are Brazilians the coolest people ever, but also Brazil is a great place to study. If you can speak Portuguese, then you can study at one of its public universities by paying a very small registration fee. The only caveat is – you need to demonstrate your Portuguese skill level by taking a CELPE-Bras certificate.
University of Luxembourg is incredibly international, and there is no language restriction. Apart from paying around a thousand Euros, it’s completely free to study for all students.
So, there are a lot of options to avail if you wish to study abroad without breaking your bank. Make use of the various study abroad scholarships listed above.
Do note that many a times, you are able to land assistantships in graduate schools in USA which makes your education 25-100% free. But if you want to be more conservative in your financial planning, there are many countries where you can study for free.