Our favorite scholarships from around the world How to apply for them

Studying at a top university can be expensive but don't despair. This guide will give you the starting point you need for a successful scholarship application.

Almost all top universities have scholarships available for students to apply for. You just need to know what they are, where you can find them, and how you can put yourself forward for them. To begin, you need to realize that putting together a successful scholarship application does often require a significant amount of time. But of course, if you’re successful, your efforts will be well worth it.


Where do you start? Do your research

To avoid putting pressure on yourself, start your research early. You need time to research scholarships, request information and application forms, and complete your application by the specified closing date. Remember that some scholarships may close before your academic year starts.

Start your search for a scholarship by looking in these places:

Your university’s scholarship office or your school’s careers advisor
The government of your preferred study destination has any scholarship schemes which you are eligible for
Any private organizations offering financial aid related to your field of study
TopUniversities has an extensive range of scholarship lists for you to check through

Things to keep in mind

Include all the required information

Make sure you have all of the information the selection panel has requested within your application. An application with missing items doesn’t make the best first impression.

Think about the presentation

A scholarship application is very similar to a job interview. You want to give a good impression and spelling mistakes or illegible writing do not look good. Before you submit anything, ask a friend to proof-read it for you.

Check if you’re eligible

Unfortunately, you won’t be eligible for every scholarship you find. Focus on the scholarships most appropriate for you so you don’t spend time putting together an application for a scholarship you don’t even meet the criteria for.

Be organized

Keep all of your scholarship material in a separate folder so you always know where it is, and make sure you have the most up-to-date information in there. This will also help you to keep track of the different deadlines for each of the scholarships you are applying for.

Provide references

Choose these people carefully. After all, there’s a lot hanging on this application. You also need to let each of your referees know and tell them something about the kind of skills and experience you need to demonstrate.

Provide correct information

Small details such as your full email address, or a new phone number if you’ve lost your mobile, will avoid any unnecessary delays, as well as make you look professional.

Don’t miss the deadline

Always give yourself an extra few days leeway when applying for a scholarship. Remember, late applications won’t usually be considered. If your scholarship doesn’t have a deadline, keep in mind that the earlier you apply, the better your chance of receiving some money.

types of scholarships

Need-based scholarships

Need-based scholarships are awarded based on an assessment of your own financial situation, and that of your parents. They are intended to aid less fortunate students in following their academic dreams, and consider a range of factors, including income and dependents.

Merit-based scholarships

Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students who show exceptional talent in their subject. They recognize students’ academic achievements, such as an impressive grade point average (GPA), or a high score in a standardized test. Athletic scholarships are a subtype of these, and are most commonly found in the US (they are rare or unheard of elsewhere). These are awarded based on excellent sporting ability and can be quite competitive. You don’t have to be on a sports-related course to apply for athletic scholarships.

Student-specific scholarships

These are scholarships which are offered for a particular group of students, often aiming to provide additional support for an under-represented or disadvantaged group. This includes scholarships for minority groups, scholarships for women in male-dominated industries, and scholarships for LGBTQ students.

Subject-specific scholarships

Many scholarships are also available within specific subjects, often centered around a particular career path. Examples include medical scholarships, business school scholarships and engineering scholarships.

University-specific scholarships

Many universities offer their own scholarships, often including a combination of the types of scholarship listed above. Eligible students may be automatically considered for these when they apply to the university, or may need to submit a separate application.

Unusual scholarships

In addition to the main types of scholarship listed above, you may also encounter some rather more unusual scholarships, which often require applicants to complete a particular challenge. Examples include a duck calling contest, a competition for making prom dresses entirely out of duct tape, and a contest for the best essay on the subject of copyright.

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