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How to Find Grants for School: International Students' Options

written by: Faith Oh•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 1/25/2011

Searching for and receiving grants for school, international students have found, can be one of the most exhausting, exhilarating, rewarding and ultimately life-changing experiences of their lives. Learn more about the different sources for grants for international students and how to get funded.

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    Finding money to pay for a U.S. college education is a daunting task for many international students and those whose families cannot afford it are often discouraged from pursuing a U.S. college education. Do not be deterred if you fall in this group because there is a variety of funding sources with grants for international students to pursue both undergraduate and graduate education in the U.S.

    These include the colleges and universities themselves, philanthropic organizations and foundations, the U.S. government through State Department-funded programs and of course governments of the home countries of international students.

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    College and University Grants

    There are so many universities and colleges in the U.S. and many of them have some sort of financial aid program for international students. If you are able to secure a scholarship or grant from the college or university you end up attending, it is one of the best and most convenient sources of funding because once you get a grant, everything else happens almost automatically as long as you keep up your own end of the bargain. This almost always involves satisfactory academic performance. If you receive an athletic scholarship or get a grant based on a musical talent you will have to fulfill the terms that come with your funding in addition to maintaining satisfactory academic record.

    The key to getting grants for international students that come from colleges and universities is to start applying early and do a thorough job of presenting your best self to the admission committees.

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    Philanthropic Organizations and the U.S. Government

    A number of philanthropic organizations and foundations provide educational funding for international students and some are quite popular. For example the Ford Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, American Association for University Women and Rotary International all provide funding for international students studying in the U.S. You should also check out foundations that are based in your home country or region as some of these, though little known, could provide some funding.

    The U.S. government through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the Department of State also sponsors a number of programs that provide educational funding for international students to study in the U.S., one of the most popular being the Fulbright program. Some of these programs are country-specific so you will need to check with the educational office at the U.S. embassy in your country for information on funding for programs for which you are eligible.

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    Your Government

    One funding source of educational funding for international students intending to study in the U.S. that you should not overlook is your home country. Some countries have scholarship programs to encourage and develop future leaders who want to study in the U.S. Most times the recipients will be expected to return to use their education in service of their country. You can find out about these kinds of opportunities by contacting your country ministry or department of education. Your school counselor may also be of help.

    Finally it is important to recognize that while the task of securing funding for your studies in the U.S. may seem daunting, it is not impossible. You may even need to combine small scholarships to have enough to cover your entire education costs. However with enough dedication and persistence you can succeed.