Scholarships and the Reduction of Student Loan Debt

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Funding is one of the major problems students face when it comes to studying abroad. To this effect, avenues like scholarships and student loans exist to help students with the cost of their education. Other funding options like grants, aids, and fellowships, also exist however, they are not so easy to get. 

According to Forbes, the cost of education has been on the rise for the past 30 years. During this period the cost of public tuition fees on average grew from $4,160 to $10,720. Additionally, private institutions averagely increased their tuition fee from $19,360 to $38,070. The funding issue when it comes to the cost of education cannot be overlooked as it is one of the limitations students face in the pursuit of higher education. 

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Related: Is Getting A Student Loan A Big Risk For An International Student?

Risks Involved In Taking Student Loans As An International Student

According to Forbes, about 55% of undergraduate students in public institutions had student loans while 57% of students from private nonprofit four-year institutions also had student loans. 

$1.75 trillion in total student loan debt (including federal and private loans). Furthermore, 92% of all student debt was federal student loans while the remaining were private. This goes to show that the financial source for many students in universities is student loans. While student loan has its benefits, being that it helps students cover the cost of their education, there are also risks attached to it. Some of the risks involved in applying for students loans include: 

1. Loans Might Not Be Sufficient 

Sometimes, the student loans offered to students do not cover all the expenses associated with the student’s education. Depending on your student loan provider, there is the probability that sometimes, your loan might only the tuition fees. This will mean that students will have to find an alternative funding source while they are in school. 

Read also: Want To Fund Your Dream? Attend First-Ever International Student Loans Program In Lagos

2. Loans Can Dent Your Credit Score

Additionally, there are so many unforeseen circumstances that can happen. Missing payment dates or defaulting on your student loan repayment can dent your credit score. If your loan also requires a cosigner, defaulting on your payment can also dent your credit score. You will need to have a concrete repayment plan so as not to dent your score for future purposes. 

3. Reduces Your Purchasing Power

Students who are studying with the help of student loans will have to put in extra effort to ensure that they pay back on time. In doing this, it reduces their purchasing as they will not be able to afford everything. Knowing that you have a loan to repay automatically lowers your purchasing power. You will have to put in extra effort to ensure that you work and can afford to pay back your loan. While doing this, it means you will have to find a way to reduce your expenses and increase your income. You might have to cut down on certain things for a while so that you can afford to pay back your student loan on time. 

3. Starting Your Career With Debt.

Funding your education using a student loan means that immediately after you graduate, you will have to start your career while serving your student loan. Although, getting a college degree or a postgraduate degree can increase your employability chances. This will in turn increase your monthly income. You will need to now budget repaying the loan from your salary. This can span from 5 years to as much as 20 years depending on the loan plan you are on. 

The Role of Scholarships

Scholarships provide an avenue for students to sponsor their education without owing anyone. However, the competitive nature of scholarships makes it difficult for students to access them. Generally, scholarships play a significant role in helping to reduce the burden of student loan debts. Thereby, allowing students to concentrate on their studies and their career afterward without having to bother about the repayment of any student loan debt. Some of the benefits international students get to enjoy when they apply for and win scholarships include: 

  1. Scholarships offer students the opportunity to access quality education. The provision of scholarships often provides students the opportunity to pursue their higher education at high-ranking colleges or universities. The availability of scholarships provides them the opportunity to access university education at no cost and enables them to maximize their experiences. 
  2. Additionally, scholarships help students to reduce the cost of student loans. When students have access to scholarships, they will not have to incur any student loan debt. Students will also not have to focus on working and studying while they are in school. 
  3. When students secure scholarships to help with the cost of their studies, it offers a form of financial relief as students do not have to bother about paying bills, especially for fully-funded scholarships. 
  4. Scholarships provide students the opportunity to explore a new country, network with like-minded individuals, and garner the necessary knowledge to thrive in the labor market. 

Read also: Scholarships For Women In Male-Dominated Fields

Types of Scholarships

There are different types of scholarships international students can apply for. They are explained below: 

1. Merit-based Scholarships

Merit-based scholarships are given to students and are strictly based on the student’s excellence. Some of the types of merit-based scholarships available include:

1. Academic scholarships: they are funded by either the university or a private organization and are often given to students who give excellent grades. 

2. Sports scholarships: this type of scholarship is often competitive and is best for athletic students who want to study in the United States. 

3. Average academic performance scholarships: before this type of scholarship is awarded, the student’s overall performance is often put into consideration. Other aspects apart from academics like extracurriculars, community service, joining a group, and other things are considered before the scholarship is awarded.  

2. Need-Based Scholarships

To get this type of scholarship, the applicant/student must be able to demonstrate his/her financial need. They are often for people who aren’t financially able to sponsor their education.

3. Government-Funded Scholarships

Government-funded scholarships are often sponsored by the government. Like sports scholarships, they are very competitive and not easy to get. Although many of the scholarships are awarded to citizens, there are also some awarded to international students. 

4. Country-based Scholarships

These types of scholarships are often awarded to students from selected countries. Some of these countries might include the ones affected by insurgency or natural disasters. The awards are often given to encourage students from such countries to further their education. 

5. Privately sponsored scholarships

As the name implies, these types of scholarships are often awarded by private individuals or organizations. However, some of them have stringent requirements that might bother gender, certain minority groups or developing countries, and a specific area/field of study.

Financial benefits of scholarships

The benefits students get to enjoy when they apply for scholarships differ based on the scholarship provider. However, scholarships typically cover some or all of the following areas: 

  • Tuition
  • Book costs
  • Flight fare
  • Accommodation
  • Monthly stipend/living expenses. 

Read also: 5 Ways To Repay Your Postgraduate Student Loan

Tips on how to successfully apply for scholarships

For international students who are looking forward to applying for scholarships, below are some important tips that can help you successfully apply and win scholarship opportunities: 

  1. Ensure you do not miss the deadline for the application. You must apply as early as possible as many other people will apply for the same scholarship spot. 
  2. Check the university’s websites to find scholarship opportunities that you can apply for. Many times, schools often update their websites to include scholarship opportunities that international students can apply for to help with the cost of their education.
  3. Check out websites that post scholarship updates regularly to keep you updated. Subscribe to our newsletter for scholarship updates. 
  4. You can look out for scholarships that are open to your particular discipline. 
  5. Ensure that you meet up with the eligibility requirements. Additionally, ensure that you provide all the information that is requested.
  6. Moreover, do not forget the deadline. Make sure you submit your application before the deadline.
  7. Get someone to help proofread your application. Do not forget to double-check it to ensure all the answers are accurate.
  8. Reach out to other people who have applied before to get important tips that can aid your application process

How to quickly pay your student loan

We have listed a feasible plan you can follow to help you pay off your student loan quickly. As an international student who is studying with a student loan, you must plan a workable way to pay back the loan on time to not get into any problems. 

  1. Pay above the minimum amount allocated to you. Many loan service providers have different terms and conditions. However, you can contact your loan service providers to make inquiries on how you can make extra payments.
  2. You can also decide to pay on a bi-weekly basis so that you can end up paying your loan faster.  
  3. Additionally, you can maximize windfalls. Whenever a lump sum comes in, you can use it to pay off your student loan. Doing this occasionally will help you pay off your student loan on time.  
  4. Furthermore, you can reconsider your payment plan if the need arises. You can opt for a shorter payment plan so that it motivates you to work towards paying off your student online.

Read also: Scholarships For International Students: Opportunities And Challenges


The availability of scholarships can go a long way in helping students reduce their student loan debts. Rather than outrightly opt for the student loan option, students can seek scholarship opportunities to help with the cost of their education. 

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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.