The USA is arguably the best country to study in the world, and the reason is pretty evident. It is home to the best institutions that have stood the test of time, with centuries of groundbreaking discoveries and great minds born out of its premise of freedom. Its institutes rank consistently in the top 10 in multiple global rankings.
The USA holds education to a great standard, hence it provides numerous scholarship opportunities and aid to its students, so no capable individual loses the opportunity to get top-tier education. It also happens to host the most international students in the world, attesting to its propensity to provide funding sources to both local and international students.
However, studying in the USA without funding sources can be costly. Students hunt for scholarship opportunities and in this particular case, they hope for USA financial aid so their dreams to study abroad can be realized. There is no shortage of scholarship opportunities for international students in the USA, let’s see the benefits of some of them.
Difference between Scholarship and Financial Aid
Financial aid is awarded on a need basis, whereas scholarships are awarded on merit. Since scholarship falls inside the spectrum of financial aid, certain types are awarded on the same basis. However, the general criteria for scholarships are based more on particular strengths and potential (arts, athletics, academics, etc.). Scholarships are monetary provisions that need not be paid back.
Financial aid may need to be paid back (loans). Someone with great merit and determination to learn in the best institutes in the world may not have the means to get themselves there. They tend to look for sources of finance for education, and the deserving ones get the opportunity to study abroad in the USA. A work-study option is also available in some cases, where you can pay back the loan while studying. Aid can be seen as either a need or a merit-based opportunity.
|Need-Based Aid||Merit-Based Aid|
USA Scholarship for Pakistani Students
Many Pakistani students opt to study abroad in the USA. In 2020, there were more than 12,000 Pakistani students in the USA, with many of them studying through scholarship opportunities offered by different funding sources. Everyone has to go through the general process of applying for a scholarship, and it is not cumbersome by any means. You can apply for government grants such as USEFP, or you can obtain financial aid and grants from private funding sources, such as charities and trusts, some of which have been described below for your ease.
There are some general requirements for applying for a scholarship in the USA, no matter where you apply.
- Application Form
- Academic transcripts/diplomas
- Statement of Purpose
- English Proficiency Test (IELTS or TOEFL)
- Standardized test scores (SAT, GRE, etc.)
Am I Eligible for Financial Aid?
Every aid or scholarship program has different criteria for selection. Different funding sources will require different information to determine whether you can be eligible for the aid or not. However, you must disclose some personal information to be eligible for need-based aid. To determine whether you qualify for USA financial aid, you need to check if you fit their criteria for eligibility. Here’s what you need to see:
- Holder of Pakistani citizenship only
- At least intermediate qualification with attested proof
- Great academic record
- Good English language skills, a high score in IELTS / TOEFL
Following are the documents required for applying for USA financial aid:
- A completed scholarship application form
- Copy of passport/ID
- Copies of transcripts/Diploma
- IELTS / TOEFL score
- Statement of purpose
- Letter(s) of recommendation (1 or 2)
- SAT / ACT / GRE / GPA and other test scores
- Parents’ financial information
Fulbright Foreign Student Program
It is the most popular funding source for a scholarship for international students in the USA. It is eligible for all levels of study and grants the opportunity to study abroad in the USA for 1 year or more. The scholarship is open to all fields except medicine.
Eligibility Criteria for Fulbright Scholarship
The program is restricted to master’s and/or Ph.D. students. The general criteria for applying are as follows:
- Pakistani nationals with a strong academic background
- Must be a permanent resident of Pakistan throughout the study
- All study disciplines are eligible except medicine
- People in the fields of energy, water, agriculture, health, education, social sciences, and environment are encouraged to apply
- Bachelor’s degree required for master’s; master’s degree required for PhD
Expenses covered by Fulbright Scholarship
- Tuition fee
- Textbooks and all other required study material
- Living expenses
- Health insurance
There are a few distinctive criteria that you have to meet, depending on the level of study you choose:
- Must have four years of bachelor’s degree or have completed a total of 16 years of education from an accredited university
- MBS and Public Policy applicants require 2 years of work experience along with a bachelor’s degree
- Minimum 18 years of formal education, master’s or MPhil degree from an accredited university
- Must have work experience in teaching, research, or the public sector in Pakistan
It is worth pointing out that Fulbright scholarship holders get a J-1 visa, which means you cannot work while you study abroad.
Gates Millennium Scholarships
Most higher education institutes fall under the umbrella of this scholarship. Its eligibility is for undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. students, with funding sources available for any undergraduate discipline you want to study.
Benefits of Gates Millennium Scholarships
- Funding can be up to 5 years
- Tuition and living expenses
- Online support services free of cost
- Individuals must be among the top 10% of their graduating class
- Must have a minimum 3.3 CGPA out of 4
- Must meet requirements of Federal Pell Grant eligibility criteria
- Academic transcripts
- CGPA of the previous degree
- Acceptance letter from US University or College (4-year undergraduate degree)
- The financial aid award letter
- Applicant’s status as a dependent or independent student
- Personal gross annual income from the past year
- A document detailing on applicant’s leadership qualities, participation in community service, and proof of participation in extracurricular activities
- Previous work experience(s)
- SAT / ACT
USA Universities that Provide Scholarship Opportunities to International Students
Apart from the aforementioned funding sources, universities have scholarship programs for students. Here are some of the top universities which provide scholarships for international students in the USA:
The university provides scholarship opportunities to deserving candidates, in the form of financial aid. They use a family’s gross annual income to deliberate on who qualifies for their scholarship and grants. The undergraduate class of 2023 was divided into six income slabs and the percentage of scholarships granted to them is listed below:
|Annual Income||Median Net Cost||Median Scholarship||Percentage of Qualified Students for Aid|
|Less than $65,000||$2,850||$76,925||100%|
Apart from its accommodating financial aid program, Yale university also offers external scholarships to students, mainly based on their merit and continued academic excellence.
Harvard has a knack for making “bespoke” scholarship and financial aid packages, based on the student’s requirements. Their main criterion for grants is academic record and performance, which is why they have an assortment of scholarships for international students. Take a look at a few of them:
|Boustany MBA Harvard Scholarships||MBA student,
Excellent academic background,
Satisfactory GMAT score,
Acceptance letter from Harvard University
|51,100 USD per annum, over two years|
|Horace W. Goldsmith Fellowship||Full-time leadership roles in the non-profit or public sector prior to enrolling at Harvard Business School,
Offered to first-year students only
|The Robert S. Kaplan Life Sciences Fellowship||Students planning for careers across -related businesses or organizations are prioritized,
Academic and professional achievements along with recognition from outside organizations are required
|10,000 USD per annum, over two years|
|HGSE Financial Aid||Admission Application to the Harvard Graduate School of Education or Financial Aid application or both||Tuition, student loans, work-study eligible|
|International Graduate Student Scholarships and Fellowships||Master’s students||Tuition, Housing, Health Insurance|
|Harvard School of Dental Medicine Predoctoral Funds||Financial aid application||A variety of need-based scholarships|
Columbia had the highest number of international students who were awarded scholarships in 2020-2021, with 287 students qualifying and the average aid awarded was above 70,000 USD. Here are just some of the graduate-level scholarship opportunities:
|Helen Lansdowne Resor Scholarship||Female students; postgraduate in Architecture, Business, Communication, etc.||$10,000|
|International Merit Scholarship||Any master’s program||$3,000|
|Business Studies Scholarship||Management, Economics, and Marketing programs||$2,000|
The major chunk of scholarships is given in the form of financial aid in their undergraduate programs, with the university agreeing to meet all requirements for first-year and transfer students.
This blog is just a beginner’s guide to knowing what financial aid and scholarships are, and how to make sure you qualify for them. As far as particular universities go, there are thousands of them with affiliations to different scholarship programs, while offering their own financial aid and assistance. When you do apply to a USA university, be sure to do your research about the universities and the subsidies on offer.