by Bryanna Davis
Learn what it takes to get an international scholarship. Three financial aid representatives will discuss where you can find scholarships, how to apply, and what you need to do to stand out.
Thank you for attending our webinar today on how to get scholarships presented by International Student loan. My name is Bryanna Davis and I’m the Marketing Coordinator here at International Student Loan and today I am here with Victoria Troupe, who is another Marketing Coordinator as well as our Director of Financial Services, Jennifer Frankel.
So before we get started I would like to mention that if you have any questions throughout the webinar, please feel free to send those in free through the webinar chat feature or you can jump on Twitter. Our handle is @InternationalStudentLoans and you can join the conversation by tweeting #FinancialAidTalk. Please feel free to ask questions throughout the webinar and we will address them at the end of our program.
First of all we are going to talk about what scholarships are, how to find them and how to apply. We will share some tips and tricks to make your application stand out, followed by a question and answer portion.
Essentially a scholarship is free money. It’s not money to use anywhere, of course it’s for education and in most cases – in most of your cases it will be used for international education. The great thing about using scholarships vs. personal funding or loans is that scholarships don’t need to be repaid. Once again, it’s free money for school that you won’t be expected to repay later, making it a great option to fund your education. Just because scholarships are free doesn’t make them easy to get and a lot of work is involved and we are here to give you advice on your scholarship journey.
First we are going to look at different types of scholarships, but keep in mind there are two different places to look for all kinds of scholarships: your institution and private means. So first we have the academic scholarship. This option is usually based on your GPA or certain test scores such as the SAT, ACT or similar tests. Typically there will be different requirements within this type of scholarship but don’t assume you will be eliminated simply because you don’t have the best GPA, so it’s always good to keep this option open. Next we have athletic scholarships. If you excel in a sport then take advantage and see what scholarship options are available through your school and private institutions. Getting an athletic scholarship at your school can be advantageous because not only do you get paid to play the sport, you also have the opportunity to represent your school through that sport.
Next we have special interests. Perhaps you are very passionate about choir or art or you play a musical instrument. You will want to see if there are any special interest scholarships available. The best part about this type of scholarship is the fact that there won’t typically be as many people applying as opposed to a general school scholarship.
Situational scholarships have a few categories; the first is based on income. If you can show that there is a need for financial aid, then you want to find scholarships who will grant you money based on that. Next is achievement. Perhaps you are active in the volunteer world or within different organizations and may even hold offices within those organizations. You will want to stress your achievement when applying for those kinds of awards.
Then we have field of study. If you are studying biology or nursing for example, you will want to find what kinds of scholarships are available based on the field of study you plan on pursuing. Later we will discuss how to find these different types of scholarships, especially this kind because there are many different outlets to find scholarships.
Next we have country specific. This can go both ways, meaning you could find a scholarship based on where you are from or the country that you are going to study in. Finally, we have school specific scholarships. These are given based on the fact that you will be attending the school, making it a very basic yet great opportunity. You may also be able to find a scholarship at your school based on the fact that you are an international student, so that’s another outlet that you will want to look at.
So next we’re going to look at how you find scholarships and so I’m going to hand the mike over to Jennifer Frankel.
When searching for scholarships it’s important to think about who you are and what sets you apart from everyone else. To help you do this we’ve compiled a list of to ask yourself what helps you stand out.
Think about awards you have received in the past – perhaps different awards or merits based on skills or interests you may have. Additionally you will want to think about where you are from. There are many scholarships out there that will be based on either your home country or governmental scholarships. Think about this as you consider different scholarships to apply for.
There are two kinds of scholarships: need based and merit based. Be sure to identify which you should apply to. If you do not need the money then you won’t qualify for the academic based need scholarships, so focus more on the merit awards. Additionally, it’s important to think about your academics. What are you studying? Biology or chemistry? What is it that you enjoy doing and want to carry on throughout your academic career? What school are you attending? Many universities and colleges do award scholarships when the student initially arrives or based on their performance in the school. Finally, what is it that you are studying? As I mentioned, if you choose to study biology you may be able to talk to the department for additional funds or there are additional institutions that can give you money as well. The stem, which is science, engineering, technology and mathematics are all really great areas of study with a high demand. So if you do choose to study in one of those areas you are at a higher chance for a scholarship award.
So now that you know yourself after you have asked yourself all of those questions, the next thing to cover is: where can you look for scholarship funding? The first place most international students start with is their college or university. When you submit your application, depending on the school, you will be applying through the admissions department. It is in this department that you can ‘opt in’ for different kinds of scholarships. It’s important to talk to your admissions department to ensure you have submitted the correct paperwork and check the deadlines.
You will also want to talk to your international center. It can be a great resource for you because usually, you will be assigned an international student advisor who will be able to guide you throughout your education. Talk with this advisor and befriend him because they will be knowledgeable about campus awards because they deal with this on a regular basis –it’s their job.
The next place to touch base with on the university level is your department of study. Whether that’s the business school or humanities department, talk to them and let them know what your passions are and where you want to take your education. This could end up leaving you with extra funds. Being partial scholarships or even a full-ride.
There are also many students who attend universities in the US with academic or athletic department scholarships. These awards are usually given by the coach. Basketball, football, soccer, all of these are relevant areas of athletics where you can get awards to help you continue with your education. Many of these are great scholarships so be sure to talk to the coach and look for organizations who can get you in touch with those coaches to whom you could showcase your skills and possibly lead to a scholarship.
A large area that continues to grow is home country government awards as well as host country government awards. If you are from Brazil or Saudi Arabia or Iraq for example, many of your home countries to provide funds to help students in exchange programs. Make sure to look at the government of your home country to see if they support international exchange funding as we are seeing a higher trend.
As I mentioned, there are host country government awards also. So if you are coming to the USA for example, there is an organization called Education USA that provides extra funding for you. Finally, there are international organizations. These include nonprofit organizations, international organizations, and multinational companies. All of these organizations can provide different funding options for international students, depending on their mission.
It’s important to keep your eyes and options open when looking for scholarships, but this is easier said than done. I am going to show you a few different websites that can help you compile all of the different available awards. First is www.iefa.org. Here there are a number of different awards for scholarships. In fact, you can search grants and scholarships, all of which you can narrow down by selecting the award name if you already know it. Alternately, you can find scholarships by entering where and what you’re studying and where you are from. You would simply click down. Let’s say we’re studying aviation. We can quickly search and view available awards based on interest. It will also show us our nationality and location so we can see which awards are available for whom.
Another website than can be of help is www.fundingusstudy.org. Here you can search by program, sponsor organization, area of study, state location and region. So for example, if you want to come to Florida or perhaps you are already studying in Florida, you can click and see 15 different programs from graduate and undergraduate scholarships and merit scholarships – making this a great resource to find funding for your international education and you will never be given matches for domestic students.
The third area that I would like to point out is www.internationalscholarships.com. This website also allows you to search by various criteria including your field of study, where you are from and where you are going. There is also an area where you can search by ‘independent award listing.’ This function makes searching for awards specific to your institution simple. Once you find the award you would like to search for click it and you will be able to view an overview of the award and then ‘register now’ to contact the administration for more information. Now I’m going to turn it over to Victoria Troupe to talk about your application and everything you need to get together to ensure your application is clear, concise and memorable.
After you find a scholarship that you think you qualify for the next question is how do you make your application stand out above the competition? On the slide in front of us is an example on the right hand side of a typical scholarship requirement and 5 things that are generally required in an application.
The first is the essay. Sometimes the topic is assigned, not always, but this is the most important piece of the application. Secondly, you need to submit a resume or CV with your application as well along with transcripts. You will notice on the example here that you are required to have an average grade of a “B” or better in previous coursework. That means that you will have to submit your transcripts. Additionally, letters of recommendation are required and sometimes there will be an application fee, so that is something to keep in mind also.
Like I mentioned earlier, the essay is the most important piece of the scholarship application. An essay or other written submission is oftentimes the only time the decision committee will hear your perspective on why you feel you deserve the scholarship. It’s important to make it as compelling as possible. Sometimes you can look over the winners of past scholarships so that you can see what the judges are really looking for. The best thing you can do to ensure your essay is a winner is to start brainstorming early for your essay. Don’t wait until the last minute and give yourself time to put ideas on paper to determine the direction you want your essay to take.
After you have brainstormed and determined the direction of your essay, you should create an outline. This outline needs to include everything you want to write about and laid out in a logical order, leading from one topic to the next fluidly. Your essay should really emphasize your strengths and why you deserve the funding for college so be sure to concentrate and spend a lot of time.
Letters of recommendation are usually required for scholarship applications and are written by faculty in your field of study. This could be a previous professor, or teacher who can really speak to your qualifications in academia. Sometimes they are written by supervisors or colleagues in your career field who can speak to your character and work ethic. If this letter isn’t required, a list of references most likely will be. Here you can list two or three of the same type of references as in the letter of recommendation. Be sure to include their name, title and contact information because the scholarship committee will contact them directly so that they can speak to your qualifications.
A resume is usually required as well and is usually important to customize your resume for the scholarship you are applying for. This can be reflected in the objective and ensure you put the most relevant or impressive information at the top of your resume so that’s the first thing they see and to catch their attention. Also, be sure to include key words in your resume that are included in the scholarship description or qualifications so that it catches the reader’s eye and so they will see you as a qualified applicant. Ensure you add your related accomplishments and qualifications such as volunteer work, clubs your associated with, any awards you have received for academia or other things. Never forget to have a friend or family member proof read your resume before you turn it in. A cover letter is also a great addition to any scholarship application, the same way you would for any job interview.
Lastly, to prove that you are academically capable of pursuing higher education, a transcript is usually required. The scholarship application will tell you which type of transcript is required, sometimes it is an unofficial transcript, which you can usually download from your schools website. Or an official transcript may be required. An official transcript is a little harder to get. It is signed and sealed and then mailed directly from your school to the scholarship application office, so you will need to request official transcripts early to ensure they arrive at their destination well before the due date. It’s often a good idea to request a few at once, that way you already have them and so don’t have to wait for them later on.
To give you a brief synopsis of what we have talked about today, here is what we have covered:
Scholarships are available especially for international students, they are out there. The most important thing to consider is to perfect your application to increase your chances of winning. Resources are available to help you. All of the websites that Jennifer shared are great resources to help you. Also, there are countless resources to help you with resume building, essay writing and everything else you may need to create a great application.
Ensure you are following us on Twitter @InternationalStudentLoans and because we are going to post some great links to scholarship sources.
Now I’m going to hand it over to Bryanna to answer some questions, but feel free to continue sending questions on the webinar chat and twitter feed as well.
Thank you so much. We have had a few questions come in and we will go ahead and address them now.
Question: “Should I follow-up on a scholarship application?”
Answer: Typically you don’t want to bombard the scholarship committee, so typically only contact them after the deadline if you have not seen any results as to the winner. This really is the only case you would want to follow-up on the scholarship application.
Question: “I found a scholarship that requires me to pay to apply. Is this safe and typical?”
Answer: While you want to use caution for scholarships who require payment with the application, as long as you have done your research and ensure it’s for a reliable institution, there’s typically no problem with having to pay a small fee. As Victoria mentioned, some scholarships do require a small fee, typically it’s an administration fee. Also, those fees may be added to the scholarship award amount. Either way, ensure you do your research before sending any money.
Question: “What are keywords?”
Answer: Remember when Victoria was speaking on resumes? Keywords are words that are going to stand out to the people reading your scholarship application. Those words may be positive words like determined, proactive, reliable etc.
It looks like we have answered all of the questions and so I would like to thank you for attending our webinar today, hopefully you are able to benefit from our information. If you would like any more information, check out www.internationalstudentloan.com or you can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to follow us on twitter @InternationalStudentLoans. If you would like to register at www.internationalstudentloan.com you will receive up-to-date blogs with relevant information. The next one we have coming up is going to be on different websites to find scholarships easily, so you want to be sure to sign up for our feed so you will have access to that information.
Thank you again for attending and have a great day.