Grants for International Students

Coming to Study in the United States?

Every year more than half a million international students pursue academic studies at a college or university within the United States. The complex diversity of the American educational system often offers foreign students a wider range of learning opportunities than they would find at home, and gives them the chance to pursue advanced study programs to which they may otherwise not have access.

Beyond the obvious educational benefits, welcoming international students to American campuses promotes a cultural exchange that enriches both visiting and resident students in equal measure. As foreign students live and study with their American counterparts, the exchange of ideas and experiences helps to forge a better understanding amongst the people of the world.

Many international students fund their American college experience with their own money. Like their American counterparts, however, that money doesn’t always cover their total cost of attendance and foreign students look to grants and scholarships to help them pay for their American education. Financial aid programs for international students are, by their very nature, less extensive than those available to United State’s citizens. But they do exist, and they provide much needed financial support to international students attending college or university in the U.S.

International grants

Grants for international students are highly competitive, and are only awarded to the best and brightest students. Often these grants will target students who are pursuing advanced degrees in highly specialized fields. Grants for international students may be few, but they offer the promise of greater educational opportunities to students from around the world.


International students who wish to study in the United States will first need to get all of their immigration and visa documents in order. Foreign students should visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) for details on the requirements and responsibilities of applying for, and receiving, a student visa.

International students who have been accepted at a college or university within the United States should also contact the school’s admissions coordinator, international adviser and financial aid office in order to prepare a smooth transition into the country and onto the campus. Most colleges and universities will require international students to provide complete details on travel plans, and certification of funding for the duration of their college attendance.

General Grants for International Students

Grant programs for international students are not as abundant, or as far reaching, as those for domestic students. That being said, there are a variety of grants dedicated to encouraging and supporting international students who wish to pursue the balance of their college education in the United States.

The following are examples of some of the higher profile grants available to international students looking to fund their American education experience.

Fulbright Grants for Foreign Students

The Fulbright Education Exchange Program is supported and administered by the U. S. Department of State. Fulbright offers a variety of highly competitive merit-based grants for both U. S. students studying abroad, and foreign students studying in the United States. Most Fulbright grants provide funding that covers round-trip transportation, monthly stipends for the duration of the grant, and full or partial tuition. Not all Fulbright grants are available in all countries, and interested international students will want to consult the Fulbright website for a list of participating countries.

  • The Fulbright Foreign Student Program provides financial assistance to international students pursuing degrees at colleges and universities within the United States. The program provides funding for graduate students, young professionals and artists to pursue research and studies for a year or more at an accredited U.S. college or university.
  • The International Fulbright Science and Technology Award provides three years of funding for eligible foreign students pursuing a Ph. D. in an approved science or technology field, including aeronautics, biomedical engineering, computer sciences, physics and neuroscience. Up to 40 awards are granted annually.
  • The Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program provides funding for foreign students who are pursuing a degree  in teaching English as a foreign language. The program gives students the opportunity to study English at a U.S. college or university, while encouraging them to immerse themselves in American culture and customs.

AAUW Grants for International Students

The American Association of University Women sponsors the annual AAUW International Fellowship for women in 116 countries around the world, providing them with vital funding to help them pursue their graduate and Master’s degrees at a college or university in the United States. Recipients are chosen on the basis of academic merit, and a commitment to the advancement of women and girls in their home countries.

The Fulbright and AAUW grants are the most prestigious programs for international students studying in the United States. Foreign students should also consult the Institute of International Education for helpful information on other grants and scholarships, as well as vital information on topics that concern foreign students pursuing their education in the United States of America.

Grants from Colleges and Universities

Many American colleges and universities offer grants for foreign students who wish to study at their institution. Universities understand that international students bring a valuable cultural diversity to their classrooms, and compete to bring the best and brightest foreign students to their campuses. As with all campus-based financial aid, grant programs will vary greatly from college to college. International students who have been accepted at a college or university in the United States should contact the school’s financial aid offices, and their international student advisers, for detailed information on programs for which they may be eligible.

The following are a few examples of grants for international students that are supported and administered by individual colleges and universities.

  • The University of Cincinnati sponsors a limited number of grants for foreign nationals who are pursuing their degrees at the UC campus. UC International Students Grants provides financial assistance to foreign students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Applicants must be full-time students, and awards are determined on the basis of academic merit and financial need.
  • Columbia College in Missouri sponsors a variety of grants for international students. The Columbia International Award is available to both freshman and transfer students who are foreign nationals. The International Award is determined by academic merit, and the award amount is $1000. The International Excellence Award offers a half tuition award to international students who meet the college’s stringent academic requirements.
  • Lewis and Clark University in Portland offers the Davis United World Scholarship for international students. The award is determined by a combination of financial need and academic merit. Eligible foreign nationals may receive up to $10,000 in financial aid.

These are only a sampling of the many campus-based grants available to international students pursuing their studies in the United States. Foreign nationals who have been accepted to a university or college in the United States will want to contact the school’s offices of financial aid for further information on financial aid programs from which they may benefit. Additionally, international students may wish to contact the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling for information of interest to foreign nationals studying in the United States. The OACAC can also help direct students to colleges and universities with substantial financial aid programs dedicated to the needs of international students.
International students pursuing their higher education in the United States will also want to refer to our section on Scholarships for International Students which provides further information on financial aid opportunities for foreign nationals studying in the United States of America.


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