3 Pieces Of Scholarship Advice For International Students [VIDEO]

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As part of her new “Straight Talk” series, Diane Melville is here to help international students find free money for college through scholarships. Find out where you should be looking in the video and blog post below!  

The great thing about private scholarships (scholarships not awarded by a school or a government entity) is just how many different types there are. There are scholarships for every flavor of student—international students included.

The problem is that many international students just assume that all scholarships are for U.S. citizens only (maybe after encountering a few scholarships that state citizenship as an eligibility requirement). This is not true!

There are lots of scholarships for international students, and I’m laying out three pieces of advice that will help you to find them.

1. Look For Scholarships Without Citizenship Requirements

Scholarships will rarely, if ever, specifically state that non-U.S. citizens cannot apply. More often than not, the scholarship will either say that you “must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident,” or it won’t mention anything about citizenship at all.

International students should look for scholarships that do not include citizenship status as an eligibility requirement. These might be slightly harder to find, which brings me to my next point …

2. Search More

To find these specific scholarships that do not require citizenship for you to apply, you’re going to have to search a bit harder than other students. Spend a couple of hours per week hunting for scholarships online. That may sound like a lot at first, but you’ll learn the ins and outs of the process over time and spend less time on it in the future.

Here’s a scholarship search FAQ I put together that should make this easier for you.

3. Don’t Hide Your Status

When you finally find a scholarship that you can apply for, don’t spend a lot of  time trying to hide your international student status. Being an international student isn’t a bad thing, and it isn’t going to negatively affect your chances of winning a scholarship.

In the end, the scholarship providers just want to give their scholarship away to the most qualified, awesome student that applies. Feel free to share unique stories about your time in your country and any struggles that you or your family may have had in your life in your scholarship application.


International students, permanent residents, and even undocumented students can apply for plenty of scholarships. The trick is to know what to look for, push through the search process, and be honest about your status when applying for scholarships.

Good luck!

Have a scholarship question for Diane? Post it in the comments.

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  1. Eleanor June 28, 2014 / 1:38 pm


    This is really helpful, been searching for months for any scholarship available for Non-US citizen like myself. Currently taking courses major in Finance at Notre Dame, but the cost is so expensive. Appreciate much if you can email or guide me of any upcoming scholarships related to my study. Thank you so much .

  2. Diane Melville June 30, 2014 / 3:08 pm

    Eleanor–thanks! I’m glad that this post was helpful. We’re working on providing more scholarship resources and advice for international students–so stay tuned!

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