How to Apply for Scholarships and Financial Assistance

Posted on: December 1, 2010 , last updated on: 2011- Dec. 26

I. Scholarships (Merit-based) & Financial Aid (Need-based)

U.S. universities, the government and non-profit organizations provide funding to support students studying in colleges in two ways: merit-based scholarships and need-based financial assistances. Merit-based scholarships are issued to students either with overall outstanding performance or having outstanding performance in one area. It usually does not take into account the scholarship recipient's family financial situation; while need-based financial aids (financial aids) do consider the student's family economic status. Hence, the students must provide proof of parents' annual income, and usually the scholarships will also affect the acceptance. In addition to universFAations that give away scholarships (Chinese translation: 奖学金) and financial aids (Financial Aids) also include state and federal government, foundations and private organizations


II. Types of Scholarships

The scholarships awarded to the international students by American universities have the following categories:

(I).Scholarships for Undergraduate Students

1.University scholarships
1). Scholarship awarded based on family financial condition (Need-based)
The awarded scholarship amount is related to the family economic condition, however, since the money used for undergraduate scholarships for international students is limited, the scholarships are highly competitive, and applications for need-based scholarships will affect admissions.

2). Merit-based Scholarships/Awards (Merit-based)
Honorary award presented to the applicants with excellent performance or certain aspects of excellent performance is very difficult to get. The scholarships do not affect the admission. The majority of those scholarships do not need to be applied for, and are provided by the university to qualified students automatically.

2.Non-university Scholarships
Such scholarships cover a wide range of categories. The grant amount also varies widely. The difficulties of getting those scholarships are also very different.

(II).Scholarships for Graduate Students

1). College Grants (Need-based/Merit-based)
College grants are very competitive, however, college grants award the highest amount of scholarship among all non-service scholarships. The college grant is a full scholarship. It means that beyond free of tuition and other charges, the scholarship recipients also receive a certain amount of funds for personal expense.

2). Merit-based Scholarships/Awards
Honorary award, presented to the applicants with excellent performance or certain aspects of excellent performance, but the amount of funds awarded is low. Neither those scholarships need to be applied for, nor it affects admission. It is automatically granted by the university.

3).Fee Waiver (Tuition-waiver):
Free tuition scholarships, also known as semi-scholarship, which is the easiest scholarship to receive among all non-service scholarships.

Service Scholarships include teach assistantship (Chinese Translation: 助教金 ) and research assistantship ( 助研金). It supplies a certain amount of living cost at the same time tuition-free, but requires the recipient to spend a certain amount of time each week doing supplementary teaching or research work. Such scholarships are usually issued to graduate students. Only a very limited number of undergraduate students receive that scholarship.


III. Scholarships Application for Undergraduate Students

As for scholarship (Chinese translation: 奖学金) applications, some universities consider all applicants automatically, some provide specialized application forms, and the rest don't provide college scholarships to international students; the financial assistance (FA) application has a special application form. We advise you to contact school scholarships and financial aid department (Financial Aid Office)for scholarship/financial aid information and application procedures.

U.S. universities often set up Scholarship Audit Committees to be directly responsible for auditing scholarships awards. Applicants' school GPA, TOEFL, SAT scores, letters of recommendation and personal statements are important in the scholarship application. Only students whose academic record and personal qualities are very good will have chance to receive the scholarships awarded by the U.S. institutions. Under normal circumstances, when evaluating applicants, American universities mainly consider the following factors:

  • High school grades (The applicant's academic GPA and class rank)
  • Standardized test scores
  • Ability and quality in sports, art and other competition
  • Awards and honors received, papers published in academic journals
  • Personality

If a Chinese student's academic performance and his all other aspects are good, it is possible for him to receive scholarship about 20000-30000 dollars or less a year for his undergraduate study .


IV. ”Need- blind” and ”Need-Aware”Admission policy

There are two policies that American universities used in admitting students: “Need- blind/full-need admissions” and ”Need- Aware” . "Need-blind admissions" is the enrolled student at the University does not consider the economic situation of families of students. “Full-need admissions that students would be admitted, the school will be based on the economic situation of families of students paid enough scholarships or financial assistance, which will be sufficient NeeduppoAwarel costs of the entire year of the college education. However, Most U.S. students taking the college admissions”Need- Aware”Principle, that is, the family's financial status will affect a student's acceptance result, and only a very good student can receive enough for a university scholarship.

The following U.S. universities have need-blind and full-need admissions policy for international students

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Massachusetts
  2. Harvard University in Massachusetts
  3. Princeton University in New Jersey
  4. Yale University in Connecticut
  5. Dartmouth College in New Hampshire
  6. Amherst College in Massachusetts


P.S.: List of American Universities That Provide Scholarships for International Students During 2009-2010