Getting a Scholarship Or Fellowship: All you need to know

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Scholarship vs fellowship

There are many schemes run by the government to further the education of needy and/or meritorious students, based on specific criteria that should be fulfilled by the student in order to avail of them. Scholarships and fellowships are two such schemes that are quite commonly misconstrued in this regard.

WATCH: Top 10 Fully-Funded Government Scholarships for international students

A scholarship is defined as money granted by the government or any other organization to students who fit the criteria set by the granting authority.

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Conversely, a fellowship is a grant awarded to scholars to support them in the pursuit of research.

To achieve the best of higher education, all students need to know the difference between scholarships and fellowships.  This is because the two provide financial support to applicants.

What is a fellowship?

An academic fellowship gives graduate students the opportunity to gain more graduate and postgraduate (sometimes undergraduate) research experience without breaking the bank.  Some fellowships have little or no specific job requirements, while others run like internships for graduate students.  These opportunities can strengthen the graduate student’s resume and pocketbook, so graduate students with the opportunity must apply for such awards.  A fellowship is a merit-base award, and those with high GPAs and promising careers take precedence.

Types of Fellowships

Fellowship is almost always a financial gift associated with working in a particular field, but its composition can be quite different.  For example, a doctoral program is offered to Ph.D. students to fund the proposed research to develop their specializations. 

M.D. fellowships are offered to medical students to complete in-depth education in advanced specializations such as heart care, women’s health, or pediatrics. 

Humanitarian organizations often offer fellowships for graduate students who are pioneering or studying community-based initiatives. 

Benefits Provided by Fellowships

Fellowships offer rewards, but they cannot always be monetary.  Monetary awards are the most common, but fellows often receive between $ 5,000 and $ 50,000 annually, along with living expenses that also include travel expenses. Common supplemental benefits of fellowship include health insurance, free housing, allowances for family members, etc.  Fellows in internships, like fellowships, also benefit from experiential learning and ongoing research.  Students with strong research or work components can gain a sense of responsibility beyond the entry-level job in the field and can form the links needed for employment later on.

Finding Fellowship Opportunities

Finding fellowship often requires some work.  Not all fellowships are advertised, so you should do some research yourself or ask your mentors about these opportunities.  The school’s financial aid office can sometimes give students the right direction through informational meetings centered on fellowship.  Research online can go a long way, with many fellowships published on the internet.  Some websites provide a social database that allows users to sort by minimum eligibility criteria.  Schools and other agencies may also post fellowship opportunities online.

Applying for Fellowships

Fellowships are very competitive, so be sure to prepare for an impressive application that will not push down the pile.  Organizations generally look for high academic achievers, community service leaders, dedicated honorary students, and skilled researchers.  Let your motivation and self-direction shine.  Do not be surprised if it takes more than two months to complete the application and fill out the supporting materials.  Most often, you need a curriculum vitae or resume, an official transcript, a letter of recommendation, and a research proposal.  It is also common to participate in panel interviews with selection committee members.

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Overall, fellowships are a coveted opportunity that gives graduate students the opportunity to make money while doing research or choosing a career of their choice.  A fellowship is similar to graduate assistance but generally does not include teaching and is not conferred through specific institutions.  From art and the humanities to science and medicine, fellowship is offered in almost every field.  Having a fellowship that fits your interests and personality will help you in the future.

How long does a fellowship last?

Fellowships are mostly between 3 and 12 months. Fellows will begin work mid-year, between June and August, depending on the organization to which they belong. If you have a specific preference in terms of timing, please let them know early.  However, these preferences cannot always be accommodated. 

It is recommended that new friends overlap with older ones when possible.  Even for several days, this overlap period will greatly help new settlers settle and orient themselves.

Fellowship Grants as Income

The Internal Revenue Service considers fellowship grant exemptions for tax if certain conditions are met.  Institutions providing the grant must meet several IRS standards.  In other words, there must be a regular staff, curriculum, and student body.  Beneficiaries must enroll in a program leading to a degree and agree to use the money to pay tuition and fees.  Money can also cover all the books, supplies, or equipment needed for research and study.  If the payment is for teaching or other service, some or all of your fellowship may be taxed.  Money used for lodging and boarding, travel, or other expenses not required by colleges and universities is also taxable.  The taxable part is calculated as the gross income for the tax returns.

What is a scholarship?

A scholarship is a program that helps students with results and aims at students who wish to study at the tertiary level, including universities and colleges.  Many students drop out after passing secondary school or grade 12 because they cannot afford tertiary studies since they are very expensive.  Their dreams simply fade and are not fulfilled; some have very good qualifications and meet the minimum requirements to be admitted to universities, but due to the bad experience, they cannot afford to continue their studies.  Scholarship is there to close the gap.

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N.B. Not all the costs that I have mentioned below are covered by every SCHOLARSHIP, each scholarship has its own cost allocation.

1. Transport/Travel Fees

If the student is studying outside the campus, far from the campus, money for transport will be given to him or her. Again, not all SCHOLARSHIPS pay for this

2. Accommodation

The money is for the residence of students and the place where they are staying during their studies. It can be the residence from the institution or renting from outside. Usually, the money is paid directly to the institution if you are staying on the institution’s campus, but if you are staying outside the campus, the money is paid directly into your personal account.

3. Tuition fees

The money paid by the student to an institution for lectures, classes, lab equipment, and study materials All the SCHOLARSHIPS are paying this fee even some only pay these fees only.

4. Book fees

Some SCHOLARSHIPS are paying for study materials such as books, computers, cell phones, tablets, and others. For this, the money is paid directly to the student’s account.

WATCH: Top 10 Scholarships for Second Class Upper 2 Graduates

Differences between Scholarship and Fellowship

Scholarships” and “fellowships” generally assume “financial support” for students and researchers, or individuals seeking, finding, and investigating new things.  Scholarships and fellowships are established by universities, research institutes, educational institutions, laboratories, governments, or foundations. But what are their differences?

The main difference between scholarship and fellowship


The most important difference between “scholarship” and “fellowship” is that the term “scholarship” always means that there is “financial aid.”  Therefore, there is no “scholarship” without “financial aid.”  “Financial aid” may include “tuition,” “daily expenses,” “living allowance,” or other forms, but always includes money.  In the case of “fellowship”, in most cases “financial aid” is provided, but it is not necessary to assume that the term is “financial aid”.

For example, if someone receives a “scholarship” to study at the University of Ohio or research at NASA, it means that the person has definitely received money to study or research.  When MIT or Harvard University publishes a “scholarship” for a student, researcher, undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate student, this means that the university, laboratory, or foundation will always cover some or all of the costs of study or research.


But “fellowship” first of all, is a status, after which comes “financial aid”. “Fellowship” is a status in the university or research institution, and it may or may not include “financial support”. Cambridge or Oxford may sometimes announce a “fellowship” and only offer a desk with a computer at their library. For that specific position, most often, many good researchers or public figures are ready to pay for other costs themselves.

“Fellowship” can be granted as a status in an educational institution, and that’s it—nothing more or less, no financial aid, no salary, just status.

The person may be accepted as a fellow of a certain college with that status or department and have access to a few library and research facilities.

Other differences between scholarships and fellowships are

 Scholarships” are offered at the beginning of the academic career.  You can apply for a scholarship” at school before college and undergraduate studies, but there is no fellowship at that level.

The same is true for undergraduate academic studies.  All “financial aid” available to undergraduate students at the school is called a “scholarship,” and, in exceptional cases, it can be called a “fellowship” when it relates to research activities.

From the graduate level, “financial support” called “a fellowship” is available to students who are particularly interested in the field of special research.

“Scholarships” are awarded to student levels, and “fellowships” are generally made available to people with experience.  For example, if you search for “scholarships for journalists” on Google, you will get “financial aid” results that you can study at the university at any level, but if you search for “fellowship for journalists,” you will get all the results of the programs available for only experienced journalists to conduct an investigation and research.

 In many cases, scholarships and fellowships are used interchangeably and are confusing; sometimes they mean the same and different things altogether.  I hope this brief introduction to the difference between scholarship and fellowship is helpful.

Tax Implications of Scholarships and Fellowships

Scholarships and fellowships awarded to students earning the degree are generally not taxable income for the student when used for qualified expenses.  These expenses are defined by the “Internal Revenue Service (IRS)” to include the tuition and fees required and/or books, supplies, and equipment necessary for all students in the course.  These payments do not have to be reported to the IRS by the student or university.

Scholarships and fellowships used for expenses other than those that qualify are taxable income.  A tax grant is a payment, usually called a salary, in which no service is provided or required.  Examples of stipends are payments that can be used for living expenses and unforeseen expenses, such as accommodation and food, travel, books, and personal computers that are not necessary.  The granting department is responsible for accurately determining the amount, which should be classified as salary, but such decisions are always subject to review and reclassification by the tax office.  All stipend payments will be paid through your account, with the exception of certain sports grants paid through the athletic account service for students.

Stipends paid to non-resident foreigners with F-1, J-1, M-1, or Q-1 visas have a 14% withholding tax on US income.  Unless there is a tax treaty available,  Even if you currently have taxes payable by the state, you do not have to withhold state taxes.  However, this may change due to changes in state law.  Taxable scholarships and fellowships are not withheld by FICA because they are not a service fee.

Students from countries with tax treaties with the United States that contain the scholarship clause may be exempted or claim a 14% reduction if the payment meets the requirements of the treaty.  However, the student must complete the required form in the university’s tax department.

How to apply for Scholarships

It has been established that organizations, governments, and universities around the world grant scholarships worth millions of dollars to students to study for university each year.

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 will learn the general guidelines for applying for scholarships, especially international scholarships.

1. Start early

As a student looking to study outside of your country, your first step is to consider which country or region you want to study.  Do you want to study in the United Kingdom, the United States, Asia, or Australia?  At least 18 months before you intend to obtain admission, focus your scholarship research in the country or region where you wish to study.  That way, you will have enough time to gather the required documents.

 2. Look inside your country.

 A series of scholarships originate locally.  There are government and business scholarships for citizens to study abroad.  Ask and find out about them for your friends and colleagues.  Emmanuel learned of the PTDF scholarship, in Nigeria, from a colleague at his workplace.  He ended up earning a scholarship to study Master’s at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

3. Ask: Am I eligible for a scholarship?

It is important to keep in mind 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;  That has a certain grade point average.  Once you identify a scholarship program, read the guidelines to see if you are eligible to apply.

4. Get your exam scores and required documents ready

 It is common for international scholarship programs to require students to meet a certain test score;  TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, GMAT, or GRE.  For some scholarship programs, if you do not have the required test result, you will not be eligible to apply.  Register and take the required exam and prepare your score.  Start collecting other necessary documents (transcript, certificates, identification letters) ready.

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 the scholarship.  In such a case, your scholarship application will not be considered if you have not been offered conditional or unconditional admission to a university.  However, some scholarships require you to 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 must deepen your findings. Research the sponsor of the scholarship on the web. Look for the mission statement of the organization, which you will often find in the “About us” section of their website. Seek to know what they are looking for in a fellow. Position yourself within that ideal.

WATCH: 10 Common Scholarship Interview Questions And How to Answer Them

7. Apply to all eligible scholarships.

Believe it or not, there are thousands of scholarships out there yet, many scholarships are not awarded every year. There are varying reasons why these scholarships are not awarded but our advice to you would be:

Do not ignore the small funds.  Some scholarships worth $ 1,000 or less may be less competitive, which could give you more advantage. Apply for as many as 10 different scholarships. You never know which one will be most beneficial to you in the future.

8. Write a winning essay if necessary

Applying for scholarships that require sending an essay can increase your chances of success if you strive to write an easy award.  Let your passion resonate with the scholarship committee members.  Be personal  Reveal who you are and why you deserve a scholarship more than others.  Do not sound unfortunate.  Instead, emphasize how you solved a problem or overcame adversity in your life.  And how do you think you can do even more if you receive a scholarship?

 9. Follow the guidelines and attend to the details

Most professions require attention to detail.  Scholarship providers take this seriously when they consider the right applicant for a scholarship.  The way you prepare your application speaks loudly about how detail-oriented it is.  Think about it.  Who will want to help an aspiring doctor achieve his dream when he cannot follow simple instructions?  You will be surprised to learn that a large number of scholarship applications do not adhere to the application guidelines.  Highlight.  Make an additional effort to provide all required documents, including letters of recommendation.  Submit a meticulously completed application.

 10. Search and contact winners of previous scholarships

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

 11. Submit your request early

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

How to apply for a Fellowship

Have you ever wanted to take your research or career to a new level and travel internationally for an extended period of time?  Consider applying for an international fellowship.  From three months to a year or more and for students, researchers, or young professionals, the scholarships are intended to enrich their experience, understanding, and perspective of the world.  And it is worth applying especially if you have a truly international idea or want to take your academic career to everyone.

Whether you want to study pitcher plants in Borneo, teach in a foreign country, or get a prestigious international fellowship (such as Mitchell, Marshall, or Rhodes), this is what you need to know about the application process.

1. Identify your goals

First, although a scholarship can be a fantastic opportunity, don’t apply for it just because it sounds fun or if you’re looking for something to take up your time.  My friends who have sought scholarships without clear objectives have often felt apathetic when it comes time to launch their projects.

Instead, do it because you know you will enjoy the opportunity, get something out of it, and work on it, which will allow you to promote your interests or improve professionally.  To make sure it’s the right one, ask yourself: what will this experience offer me?  What do I hope to learn and achieve?  How will it affect my career when I return?

 2. Understand your eligibility

Many scholarships are based on your academic history but do not stress about that hard class of Organic Chemistry or that difficult semester of the second year.  The selection committees are not interested in your grade point average (GPA), they are looking for you to confirm that you are responsible, have a good performance, and have reached a certain level.  They are also often more interested in full candidates than in those with perfect qualifications.

If you are still worried, know that scholarships tend to publish your eligibility requirements well before the application deadline.  While some require outstanding scores, others are much more flexible.  For example, the Rhodes, Gates, and Truman scholarships are for those who excel in academic research and graduate work, while the Fulbright is for those who wish to enter the field (and Fulbright English Teaching Assists are for those who want to teach).  You should be able to find something that fits well.

 3. Get out

Your personal statement, essay responses, and portfolio give you the opportunity to show who you are and why you fit perfectly in this community, so think hard.  Don’t be afraid to take risks, and definitely don’t stick to a canned response of the kind you think the selection committee wants to read.

  Think about what distinguishes you from the other candidates.  Do you have experience in new companies that you want to build while learning about microfinance in India?  Or maybe you are interested in public health and want to work in a clinic in the field.  Let your request reflect who you are.  Also ask your mentors, advisors, and friends to give you their opinion.  You will probably see common themes, and that is what you should play in your application.

4. Plan an amazing project and launch

One of the most important parts of your application is your project proposal.  You must sell the selection committee in your plan and how it will make it relevant to the real world.

Be realistic about your goals.  How would you do your project?  What would you consider a successful outcome?  Also, understand the time constraints on the ground.  Within the time frame of the scholarship, how much can you achieve?  What contacts do you have in the area?  What experience do you have doing similar jobs in the past?

Your goal is to show that you can do a great job if you are awarded this scholarship, and it will be helpful if you can show that you have already done the necessary background research and that you have the skills to do this.

5. Get excellent recommendations (honest)

Great recommendations are essential for its application.  Make sure your recommendations are people who have known you for at least a year, and who can really attest to who you are and what your strengths and successes are.  I cannot tell you how many students I have been teaching for two weeks asking me to write recommendations. I am always obliged to reject them since I cannot say anything meaningful about their work).

Furthermore, I recommend sitting down with your recommender to have a coffee to review why you want this scholarship and the strengths and abilities you would bring to the paper.  And do this well in advance.  It is very likely that their advisers will be flattered to be asked and will be able to share good advice, but they will need time to write a thoughtful recommendation.

 6. Be real in your interview

During the scholarship interview, you can usually know who received formal training and who did not.  Those who have it are excellent at adhering to an approved script, but they are often ineffective in explaining why the community cares about them personally.

The lesson here is to be true to yourself and honest about what you want to achieve.  If you only try to be the person you think the judges want you to be, they will see it well.  Even if you don’t have all the “right” answers, if you can convey your passion for your project, you have a good chance of winning a space.

That said, there is no secret recipe to win a scholarship.  One of my former scholarship advisors suggests that it really comes down to a combination of some factors: meeting what the committee is looking for (and how it fits with your goals), the soundness of your application, and, honestly, a bit of luck.

So don’t get caught trying to be perfect or fit into an imagined mold.  Clearly define your goals, put your heart into the application and you may be carrying out the project of your dreams.

List of top fellowships for international students


The Fulbright Program for Foreign Students brings citizens from other countries to the United States for master’s or doctoral studies at universities in the United States or other appropriate institutions.  The program has taken some of the best minds in the world to US campuses.  It offers program participants a vision of society and the values ​​of the USA.  Students must submit their application through the offices in their country of origin;  Visit the website for more information.

Deadline: Various deadlines

Official Website


Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) is a key element of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES).  YFEL focuses on increasing the awareness of students and young professionals in the fields of renewable energy and sustainability.  This unique program, led by the Masdar Institute, helps guide future leaders in the fields of advanced energy and sustainability by engaging them with today’s leaders.  YFEL also offers young professionals and students from the United Arab Emirates and abroad the opportunity to get more involved in the search for solutions to the world’s greatest challenges: energy efficiency and climate change.

Official Website


Echoing Green’s world-famous two-year scholarship program provides more than $ 2 million in initial funds to a diverse group of the world’s most promising social entrepreneurs.  Of thousands of applicants, typically less than one percent are finally selected as Echoing Green Fellows.  Those selected receive funds to help launch new organizations;  access to the solid Echoing Green network;  leadership development opportunities;  and one-on-one support and advice.  Our Alumni Program builds a community among our more than 500 fellows dating from 1987 to encourage peer learning, shared access to useful resources, and a lifelong commitment to positive social change.

Official Website


The Brazilian Scholarship Program at MIT is a collaboration between the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, a public foundation linked to the Ministry of Science and Technology (“CNPq”) of the Government of Brazil, and MIT in relation to the training of graduate students in relation to Brazil.  Government Without Borders Science Program.  The purpose of the Collaboration is for the CNPq to provide financial assistance to graduate students regularly enrolled in MIT who are seeking an MIT doctorate within the MIT School of Science or the MIT School of Engineering

Official Website


The Postgraduate Scholarship of the China Scholarship Council (CSC) is for first-year graduate students who are citizens of the People’s Republic of China and who are looking for a master’s degree from the MIT terminal (in a program of 2  years) or a doctorate

Official Website

List of Scholarships for international students

6. Fulbright Scholarships (USA)

The Fulbright Scholarship Program is the main scholarship program for international exchange between the US and 155 countries.  Each year, approximately 1,800 Fulbright scholarships are awarded to excellent foreign students who wish to obtain a Master’s or Doctorate degree in the United States.  The Fulbright Scholarship Program provides full funds for the duration of the study, which includes tuition, textbooks, air tickets, a life stipend, and health insurance.

Official Website

7. Chevening Scholarships (UK)

The Chevening Scholarships is the flagship program of global scholarships from the British Government.  Each year, it awards scholarships to around 1,000 outstanding students from more than 130 countries who wish to pursue postgraduate studies in the United Kingdom.  Chevening Scholarships are full scholarships covering tuition fees, the monthly stipend, and several unique grants, as well as international trips to and from the United Kingdom.

Official Website:

8. Australia Awards Scholarships

The Australia Awards Scholarships, formerly known as Australian Development Scholarships (ADS), are long-term development awards administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  They provide opportunities for people in developing countries, particularly those countries located in the Indo-Pacific region, to complete full-time undergraduate or graduate studies at Australian universities and participate in technical and higher education (TAFE) institutions.  Scholarship benefits generally include full tuition, return air travel, establishment allowance, living expenses contribution (CLE), health coverage for foreign students (OSHC), etc.

Official Website

9. Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships (Switzerland)

The Swiss Government, through the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS), grants several postgraduate scholarships to foreign academics and researchers.  These scholarships provide graduates from all fields with the opportunity to conduct doctoral or postdoctoral research at one of the publicly funded universities or recognized institutions in Switzerland.  The scholarship covers a monthly payment, tuition exemption, medical insurance, airfare, special accommodation allowance, etc.

Official Website:

10. Eiffel Excellence Scholarship Programme (France)

The Eiffel Excellence scholarship program aims to attract the best foreign students for master’s and doctoral programs at participating French universities.  Eiffel fellows receive a monthly allowance;  It does not cover tuition fees.  In addition, the scholarship covers other expenses that include return trips, medical insurance, and cultural activities.

Official Website:


While a scholarship is awarded to students to assist them in pre-graduation studies, the fellowship is unique in the financial assistance provided to help researchers conduct research in a particular field after completing their graduation.

Some scholarships are renewable in nature, in the sense that students can reapply.  On the other hand, the fellowship is meant to be only for a fixed period, which cannot be extended.

I hope the content was helpful. Do well to leave us a comment in the comment section, and we will be happy to reply to you with the information you’ll need.

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  • Ifeoma Chuks is a naturally-skilled writer. She has written and contributed to more than 6000 articles all over the internet that have formed solid experiences for particularly aspiring, young people around the globe.

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