A To Z About Study Abroad Scholarships – What How And Why?

Here’s something you know.

Scholarship to study abroad for Indian students becomes necessary because foreign education is prohibitively expensive.

And here’s something you don’t know.

You don’t need the support of a know-it-all to find (and apply, and then secure) a scholarship.

Perhaps, culture is to blame. In India, we conflate scholarships with elitism. Internationally, scholarships are abundant and for all, almost to the level of being ubiquitous.

The average cost of tuition at a US college is $36000 (₹20,74,000) for a four-year course. This excludes room and board that can cost $900 (₹68,400) per month in a suburban neighborhood.

College and university scholarships are the guardrails you lean on as you withstand the financial pressures of foreign education when you study in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and Germany.

We say–scholarships aren’t only for the top 0.1%. Once you know your target institutions, your course preference, and your funding needs, you can then apply for more relevant scholarships.

Finding your scholarship is inextricably tied to finding the right institute for your foreign education. GradRight helps with both.

  • To find the right institute, use our AI-boosted college search service, SelectRight. More on SelectRight, later.
  • To identify relevant scholarships, use this guide. And to fund the remainder of your foreign education, use FundRight, India’s first student loan bidding platform.

First things first…

What is a scholarship?

Simply put, it is financial aid for helping students pay for the cost of education. The salient features of a scholarship are:

  • They might be full or partial. A full scholarship pays the entire expenses for a year.
  • Scholarships might be awarded for merit, need, and athletic ability. The latter is peculiar to the USA and requires the student to appear for college and university teams regularly.
  • It is rare to receive full scholarships at the undergraduate level. Far more common in Master’s and almost always (fully funded) at the Ph.D. level.
  • A scholarship to study abroad for Indian students is seldom for the full term. The payment is for annual expenses. A scholarship recipient might or might not be eligible next year. Earning good grades consistently is crucial.
  • The payment might be direct to the school or provided to the student. It is usually the former, which is better since tax returns are easier to manage that way.
  • Scholarships usually cover the cost of tuition fees. Some scholarships allow a part of the funds to be used for food, books, lodging, etc.

Who offers scholarships to study abroad for Indian students?

There are three major sources of scholarships to study abroad for Indian students:

1. Government

The Government of India provides the National Overseas Scholarship for Indians wanting to study in the USA, Canada, UK, etc.

The Government of USA funds the Fulbright Program through the United States—India Educational Foundation, a part of United States Cultural Exchange Programs.

The British Council, a public body funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, Government of the United Kingdom, offers scholarships for study in STEM subjects to women in South and Southeast Asia (besides other regions) at 26 UK universities.

2. Universities

Most universities abroad offer partial or full scholarships to international students. For example, Columbia University provided 287 international students with financial aid during 2020-21. The average amount was $70,000. Similarly, Yale University awarded 264 students an average sum of $67,000.

3. Private Trusts

The Tata Scholarship offers financial support to students headed to Cornell University.

The Aga Khan Foundation Scholarship provides 50% study abroad scholarships and 50% loans for students aspiring to study in the USA.

The Gates Scholarship offers a few hundred full scholarships for study in USA. The scholarship is all-inclusive and even pays for room and board.

Google Inc offers Indian students Google Scholarships for the study of computer-related fields.

Numerous such scholarships for Indian students in the USA exist, but many are institution-specific. The admissions office makes details available when you apply.

How to apply for scholarships to study abroad for Indian students?


1. Good GPA

You need to have a robust educational background for receiving a scholarship to study abroad for Indian students. Most scholarships are merit-based.

2. Excellent Test Scores

If you want to study in the US, you have to appear in GRE and GMAT (for post-graduation) and SAT/ACT (for undergrad studies). Different nations have different exams that test students on a level playing field. Harvard requires a score above 320, while a middle rung but prestigious institution such as Texas State University needs 290.

3. Achievements

Unlike India—where education is one-dimensional—schools abroad produce a more holistic pupil. It helps if you have experience with organizations such as Rotary Club. Being part of the college debate team and taking part in extracurricular activities through NGOs is also a huge positive.

How to secure a study-abroad scholarship? Application process

1. Research

The process has to begin well in advance. If you are looking to leave India after graduation, start your research from your first year in college.

Before you find your ideal overseas graduate scholarship, you need to also identify a set of international colleges and universities that fit your profile and your aspirations.

If you were reading this in 2010, we’d have encouraged you to Google it out. This is 2022, and you can choose from 1000s of universities (and 6000+ programs across STEM and MBA).

Trust pure numbers, not a senior’s opinion, not an education counselor’s sweet-talk. In SelectRight, we use 6 million data points across 10,000+ STEM, CS & MBA programs data points. We match international colleges with your profile and reveal your best-fit institutes. That’s the only way you can choose a university that is ideal for you.

2. Qualify

Focus on a solid performance in college examinations.

You don’t have to burn gallons of midnight oil for GRE if you want a scholarship for MS in the USA. When you zero down on the right university, know how much funding you need, you can then identify more relevant scholarships.

3. Apply

There are many types of scholarship applications. They are broadly divided into two categories.

You apply for a scholarship after you receive admission.


You apply for both together.

Take up scholarship research on a war footing. It is much like a job application. Most would reject your CV (unless you graduated Summa cum Laude, i.e. with the highest praise reserved for the top 1`%).

It is difficult at this stage. Universities that accept your GPA and GRE scores might not have scholarships available.

The average application fee is ~$100 (₹7,600). This continues to be a barrier to entry for students. GradRight’s AI-based college section service–SelectRight–shatters this wall. Rely on data instead of someone’s opinion. That’s how you avoid leaking money in buying application forms of unsuitable universities.

4. Scholarship Essay and Reference

You need to get great references or a letter of recommendation. Usually, the dean of your college or the principal of your school will issue this letter to you.

It helps if you get recommendations from other well-known scholars and eminent personalities. This is difficult, of course. But not impossible. Talk to a SelectRight counselor today, and find out how you can confidently approach your college’s eminent alumni for a LOR.

A scholarship essay is another matter altogether. You have to frame in 500-1000 words why you are deserving of the scholarship. A boilerplate document won’t suffice. Be concise, forceful, and put forth valid arguments. Again, don’t hesitate to seek practical, relevant, and actionable advice from SelectRight counselors.

Is there a trick or hack?

Yes, and it is rather strange that even in the information era, grapevine works best when it comes to availing scholarships to study in the US.

There are numerous scholarships that are unknown and do not make it to Google search results easily (or they do, but for obscure keywords).

Let’s say your GPA is 3.8 and your GRE score is 285. You missed the Ivy League (Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell) and applied to Emory, Tufts, Notre Dame, Purdue, and Texas A&M.

Most you could secure was 60% of tuition, which meant you would have to pay about $60,000 (₹4.6 million) out of pocket (40% tuition and living expenses at $12,000 per year).

Maybe you had a fair shot at Rice University, Houston, Texas with 80% tuition paid and subsidized dorm.

You didn’t know, so you didn’t apply, and to cut a long story short, ended up doing your M. Tech from Delhi University (#635 to Rice’s #167).

There is no perfect search engine for scholarships to study abroad for Indian students.

Therefore, ask everyone. Better still, first shortlist 10 universities (out of 1000s—in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia). Then, talk to a SelectRight counselor who might help you identify the most relevant scholarships. A scholarship of $10,000 (not a lot) will let you breathe lighter and invest your efforts towards what matters—your education.

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