Use these 7 Steps to Approach Professors for Financial Aid

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Although many students desire to pursue higher studies, some cannot push further because they need financial aid. Many international students often complete their undergraduate studies in their home countries and then embark on higher studies abroad, sadly not all of them may have the required funding needed for that venture hence the need to source for funding. This can come in the form of grants, student loans, scholarships, fellowships, or even graduate assistantships. 

Others can equally approach their professors for the necessary funding they need but this should be done properly to get positive results. You cannot just send an email to a professor requesting funds just like that, you will most likely not receive any response. 

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In this article, we’ll examine the step-by-step process you should follow to approach your professors for financial aid and receive results. If you want to read more insightful posts like this one, then subscribe to our newsletter here.

7 Steps to approach your professors for financial aid and get results

Below is a comprehensive list of the steps you can follow as an international student to approach your professor for financial aid and receive results. 

Read also: How To Get A Graduate Assistantship In The US

1. Research your program.

It is important that as a student, you understand the type of program you are currently running and the requirements you need to consider before proceeding to reach out to your professor. For example, in some schools, if you wish to apply for funding for a master’s research, then it means you’re applying for a research assistantship. On the other hand, Ph.D. funding will have some requirements that tally with your research project before any funding is approved.  

Finding a professor for your research funding

Although it is possible to get funding for your research program, it is not as easy as it sounds. As a student seeking financing, you should first check out your school’s website to see if there’s an opening for funding a research program. But it is important to note that this rarely happens.

However, you can also find a professor in your school and then contact them directly for funding. You should understand their research program, their previously published papers, and the topics they talked about. Strive to know more about them, show interest in their work and if possible, ensure that your research work is also in line with their work. This will help you familiarize yourself with them. It’ll also make you look serious by the time you are ready to approach them for funding. Ensure that you get to know them before sending them an email expressing your needs. 

2. Beware of a generic cold email!

As a postgraduate student, you must know that you’ll have to send many emails throughout your stay in school to different professors. Consequently, it is important to know that you cannot send a generic email to everyone. Doing this will not communicate the urgency and the necessity of the funding you are seeking to get. Be specific in your request, state your program and your interest so that your lecturer will know how important your request is. 

A generic email is a type of mail that doesn’t address any specific person in particular. It is used when the sender wants to make general inquiries or is sending an email that doesn’t necessarily require a specific receiver. 

A cold email entails sending out personalized messages to a person you are not necessarily acquainted with. 

3. Target the best time to send the mail. 

After getting to know what your research program entails and the lecturer you are seeking to approach, it is important that you also schedule sending your mail at the best time if you wish to receive a positive response. Moreover, it is important to note that it’ll take some time before the funds get approved so get up and take action then the faster you will see results. 

Read Also: 20 Graduate Assistantships In The Middle East For International Students

4. Pay attention to the description of the email.

Due to the nature of the need you are addressing, it is important that you carefully craft the email you are going to send to your professor. Ensure it looks like a formal application not just a regular mail you send to your friends. Pay attention to the words used and ensure you also include the correct spelling. Below is a list of the content that should be in your mail. 

  • Have a proper subject line: Your email must have a specific subject. Let the subject of your mail reflect the purpose of the content. It should not be unrelated or abstract. 
  • Use the appropriate salutations

Don’t begin your email with HELLO, HI, or HEY. You are not addressing your friend. It is also not advisable to start with Mr/Mrs. Most professors do not like to be addressed like that, especially in an academic setting. Rather, you can use the format below:

Dear Dr. ______  or

Dear Prof. _____

  • Include information about your educational qualifications

It is pertinent that your mail contains your previous educational qualifications because this is what sets you apart from other students so apply for funding. Include your previous research projects, your published papers, any previous leadership role undertaken, and other related qualifications. If you have a high CGPA, you can also include it. However, if your CGPA isn’t exactly impressive or just average, then you might not need to include it. 

5. Have a proper conclusion

Ensure that your email has a conclusion. Don’t just end it at the part where you list out your qualifications. You should include appreciative words and ensure that your words do not have a “commanding or harsh tone”. If not, it might reduce your chances. Keep it straightforward. An example is seen below:

Thank you for taking the time to read my email about this research opportunity. I will be hoping to hear from you soon. 

6. Include other test scores: 

Depending on the requirement, you may proceed to include other test scores like your GRE, IELTS, related transcripts, and other related certificates in your application. 

7. Don’t forget to proofread 

Before sending your request for research funding to your professor, ensure that you thoroughly proofread your mail to get rid of unnecessary words, spelling mistakes, and punctuation errors. Additionally, make sure that your essay is not unnecessarily long as it can bore the reader. It should be clear, concise, and straight to the point. 

Research Assistantship (RA).

As an international student who wants to apply for a research assistantship position abroad, you should know that it is different from research funding because you will not be receiving any funding for research, rather, you will be assigned specific tasks and will be paid for it afterward. A research assistantship position will give you the opportunity to hone your research skills and also give you access to allowances to help with your educational expenses.

Read also: “Even Without Funding, I Embarked On My MBA” How AfterschoolAfrica Newsletters Advanced Amos’ Career

How to Receive Financial Aid For Ph.D. Program

There are two types of financial aid a Ph.D. student can access to help with the cost of education. You can either check out the school’s website, under the subject section to check out the options and then send the appropriate mail. Alternatively, if you have a project you are currently working on and you need funding for it, then the tips listed below can prove helpful:

  • State a comprehensive outline of the project you are currently working on so that the school can know how important it is and then necessary actions can follow. The information you give and how you present it will determine the impression the board will have.
  • Outline an estimated amount that you will need to fund the project. Ensure that you are very thorough and you include the correct amount that you will need.
  • Finally, seek advice from other people in your faculty who have equally requested funding as they will put you through the necessary process. Take advice from your faculties.

Start with us

Do you desire to start a career in STEM? The first thing is to pursue a degree in STEM. Wondering how to go about pursuing a postgraduate degree in STEM courses abroad? We can guide you through your journey and make your dreams come true. Reach out to us at EdXtra to access opportunities that will help you on your journey

Enrolling in the top universities in the world can increase your chances with employers. Unfortunately, it can be quite expensive to study abroad due to the current economic crisis. But this shouldn’t limit you as there are other options you can explore to enhance your career. 

MPower Finance and Prodigy Finance are some of the best student loan providers for international students. They also do not require any cosigner or collateral before application. At EdXtra Associates, we can help you with your loan application process. We also provide educational consultancy services for international students to help make your journey easier and faster. You can reach out to us, as we’d love to guide you through this journey. 


  • Mercy Awofiranye is a creative writer with over five years of experience. Currently, she specializes in creating helpful content for students in the education space. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and learning new things.