10 Steps: How to Apply for Scholarships for international students

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How can I apply for a scholarship?” This is one question on the minds of international students which we get asked at least five times every day by students.

It’s been established that organizations, governments, and universities around the world award scholarships worth millions of dollars to African students to study for undergraduate, master’s, and PhD every year. With the AfterschoolAfrica.com scholarship database, finding a scholarship is easier than ever. It’s “Search, and ye shall find”.

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The next stage of awareness is for students who need these scholarships to understand how to apply and take advantage of these opportunities.

In this article, you’ll learn the general guidelines to apply for scholarships – especially international scholarships.

Suggested: Ace Your Admission Interview By Employing These Tips.

1. Start Early

As a student looking to study outside your country, your first step is to consider which country or region you want to study. Do you want to study in the UK, USA, Asia, or Australia? At least 18 months before you intend to gain admission, focus your scholarship research on the country or region where you want to study. That way you’ll have enough time to gather the required documents.

2. Look within your country.

Several scholarships originate locally. There are government and company scholarships for citizens to study abroad. Ask and find out about them from your friends and colleagues. Emmanuel learned about the PTDF scholarship – in Nigeria – from a colleague at his workplace. He ended up winning a scholarship to study for a Master’s at the University of Manchester UK.

3. Get your test scores and required documents ready

It’s common for international scholarship programs to require that students meet certain test scores; TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, GMAT, or GRE. For some scholarship programs, if you don’t have the required test result, you will not be eligible to apply. Register and take the required test and get your score ready. Start gathering other required documents – transcript, certificates, identification letters – ready.

4. Ask – Am I eligible for a scholarship

It is important to note that there are no general rules to be eligible for scholarships. Each scholarship program has its unique application requirements. Some scholarships require students to have a certain TOEFL or IELTS score; that you are from a certain country; and that you have a certain Grade Point Average. Once you identify a scholarship program, read through the guidelines to see if you are eligible to apply.

5. Be in the process of admission

Most scholarship providers require that candidates must have admission or be in the admission process to be considered for a scholarship. In such a case, your scholarship application will not be considered if you have not been offered conditional or unconditional admission at a university. Some scholarships however require that you apply for admission and scholarship at the same time. The point is that, in most cases, you cannot be awarded a scholarship before admission.

6. Know what scholarship sponsors want and give it to them

A scholarship application often contains the selection criteria, but you should go deeper. Research the scholarship sponsor on the web. Look for the organization’s mission statement, which you’ll often find in the “About Us” section of its website. Strive to know what they are looking for in a scholarship awardee. Position yourself within that ideal.

7. Apply to every eligible scholarship.

Believe it or not, many scholarships go unawarded each year.

“…But we had no eligible applicants. The same thing happened with some engineering scholarships–we failed to award all we had to offer for lack of applicants,” said Mary Ann Eiff Co-Chair scholarship committee for Women in Aviation.

Don’t ignore the small funds. Some scholarships worth $1,000 or less may be less competitive, which could give you more advantage.

Read also: Want To Study And Live In Germany As An International Student? You Need To Know These Tips

8. Write a winning essay if required

Applying for scholarships that require submitting an essay can increase your chance of success if you put in the effort to write a winning essay. Let your passion resonate with the scholarship committee members. Be personal. Reveal who you are and why you deserve a scholarship more than everyone else. Don’t sound pitiful. Instead, emphasize how you solved a problem or overcame adversity in your life. And how you believe you can do even more if given a scholarship.

9. Follow Guidelines and attend to details

Most professions require attention to detail. Scholarship providers take this seriously when considering the right applicant for a scholarship award. How you prepare your application speaks loudly about how detail-oriented you are. Think about it. Who will want to assist an aspiring medical doctor achieve his dream when he/she cannot follow simple instructions? You may be surprised to hear that a large number of scholarship applications do not adhere to the application guidelines. Stand out. Go the extra mile to provide all required documents, including recommendation letters. Submit a meticulously completed application.

10. Search for and contact past scholarship winners

Several scholarship sponsors publish the names and press releases of winners. Find a way to reach the winners. You can search on social media. Contact them for questions and advice. You never know what you can learn from their experience.

Bonus: Submit your application early

Some scholarship programs just require you to complete an application form online or offline. Others require specially written pieces of work. However, just make sure you submit your application and required documents before the deadline.

Read also: Tips For Living And Studying In A Foreign Country

Start With Us

Do you want to study abroad? Note that obtaining a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in this field helps to improve your chances in the labor market. Studying abroad is no joke for international students due to the cost. However, you can achieve your dreams without breaking the bank by applying for student loans, which you can pay for as long as 10 years. 

MPower Finance and Prodigy Finance are some of the best student loan providers for international students. They also do not require a cosigner or collateral before an application. Reach out to us today, and let’s help you begin the process. 


  • After School Africa is the go-to source for young and ambitious people looking to explore opportunities for education, development and relevance.

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