What are the chances of receiving a Scholarship?

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Srishti Chatterjee
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Feb 15, 2021 16:14 IST

What are the chances of receiving a Scholarship?

It’s a no hidden fact that studying abroad requires a lot of investment in terms of finance irrespective of the programme, course, university, or country. The best shot a student has of arranging funds for this is either through student loans or applying for scholarships. However, it is no child’s play to get a scholarship. Be it being eligible for a certain scholarship or choosing the right category, achieving a scholarship from an institution is a strenuous and rigorous process. Before we move forward to have a brief idea about the chances of getting a scholarship, let’s have a look at the types of academic scholarships available for any programme:

College-specific scholarship:  These scholarships are awarded by universities on certain criteria ranging from excellence in academics, athletics, to community and social services. These are specific to a certain college such as Colorado Mesa University's Presidential Scholarship is awarded by Colorado Mesa University. Even if you have an average academic record, but have been active in other activities such as sports, social services, etc, you can be eligible for such scholarships. To know about the criteria and requirements for this type of scholarship you can check that particular university’s website and apply accordingly.

Individual scholarship granted by Universities: Some universities select scholarship aspirants on their own. Their applications are selected by default if their profile comes out to be above 50% of the class medium. However, these chances are very rare and depend upon university to university. Generally, to be eligible for this type of scholarship, the student would need to apply before a set deadline which is different than the normal applications’ deadline.

Need-based scholarships: As is evident by the title itself, need-based scholarships are awarded to students who are in dire need of financing to complete their education. Considering their previous academic performance, aspiration and future career goals of students, participation in other activities and passion towards the chosen course, the university/ college award these scholarships judiciously. This type of scholarship is awarded by both private agencies, colleges, and as well as the government.

Government scholarships: There are a few scholarships programme or student exchange programmes by the Government of any country. For instance, in India, Government of India awards scholarships for study abroad that covers almost all study related expenses of a student such as travel, accommodations, tuition fee, library fee and so on. Also, Education Exchange Programs (EEPs) are available for students interested in spending six months to one year studying abroad. While it does not exactly cover the expenses of a complete course, yet, the student is offered at least a semester or a year of study in a foreign institution.

Scholarships by private organisations: While it is no cakewalk to bag a private institution’s scholarship award, yet there are certain firms who help financially-weak students to achieve their dreams of studying abroad. A most famous example is the Tata Scholarship awarded by the Tata Education and Development Trust of Tata Group.

Tough competition in getting scholarships

All the above-mentioned scholarship programmes are not only tough to get into but also, they are limited in number. Hence, the competition is also quite high. It is a fact that very few students are able to receive these scholarships to cover all their study-related expenses. According to a recent report by National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, only one out of 10 undergraduate aspirants is able to bag a scholarship for a bachelor’s degree. Even with a GPA of 3.5-4.0, only 19% of students are able to qualify for receiving scholarships given by the colleges. Furthermore, there is only a 0.7% chance of achieving an athletic scholarship from college/ university. Although a good profile is essential while applying for a scholarship, test scores like GRE, SAT or GMAT also increase your chances of getting a scholarship. Yet, only 13% of total students with such profiles are able to bag a scholarship.

Apart from this, there are certain factors that affect the availability of scholarships. After a deep analysis of these factors, one can determine the best time and way to apply for a scholarship. According to a study conducted by the nerdwallet.com, the following factors have come into light after an in-depth analysis of more than 5000 scholarships achieved by students in the year 2017:

  • The maximum number, about 25% or more, of scholarships’ deadline is set in March. This intake has the largest pool of amount dedicated to it in terms of scholarships. However, most of the scholarships are awarded in the September intake.
  • Scholarships available for women is four times the number of scholarships available for men.
  • Reserved scholarships based on the ethnicity of a student is only 6%, yet, the minority ethnic groups enjoy an equal number of scholarships distribution.
  • Nationality and study area play a significant role in being a deciding factor while awarding scholarships rather than gender and ethnicity.
  • Out the total, 40% of scholarships have location restrictions (based on nationality and citizenship), 37% have study area restrictions, 5% have gender restrictions and 6% have ethnicity restrictions.

From the above data, one thing is clear that the aspirants should start searching for scholarships opportunities as early as possible and should aim for the March deadlines. While it is extremely difficult to bag a scholarship, be it college specific, by the government or through private agencies, one should hope for the best. Being practical while applying for a scholarship will also help you concentrate on the right one to target. With a thorough research along with some expert advice, one can aim for the right scholarship.

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Five tips to boost your chances of getting a scholarship to study abroad

After choosing the right time and right scholarship, one can only do so much while waiting for a reply from the college or agency. Rather than getting anxious and stressed about the results, you can always enhance your profile and work on your documents carefully so as to boost your chances in receiving a positive reply.

  • Try to answer all the questions/ essays provided in the application form for scholarships eligibility. Students often overlook the ‘optional’ section. It is precisely these trivial things that boost an applicant’s chances of getting a scholarship. It gives you an additional space to talk more about you and your interests. This section provides you with a space to showcase your personal background, hobbies, and participation in activities. Hence, make sure you attempt the ‘optional’ section as well and answer it as sincerely as the rest of them.
  • While online research may provide you essential information and details on the availability of scholarships, it is also advisable to search offline as well. You may search for some books by any famous writer who has an in-depth knowledge of scholarships. Not only you would get a different perspective on scholarship application but also, get insights and tips about creating a strong profile that is scholarship-worthy.
  • Research about all the scholarships that you are eligible for and apply to a maximum of them. However, applying blindly to all available scholarships might get you a direct reject. Thus, apply to only those that fit your profile. This will enhance your chances of getting a scholarship.
  • If you are eligible for any small scholarships, apply to them all. Even though the amount might be less than what you expect yet a few bucks saved is a lot lighter on your pocket. These can be present in terms of small amounts of grants as well.
  • Be professional in all your documents and showcase a heartfelt gratitude while asking for a scholarship. There might be instances where the scholarships providers may befriend on any social networking sites. Thus, it is advisable to showcase all your accounts as professional and as clean as possible. They are always on the lookout for any possible red flags. Thereby, make sure to keep your Facebook, LinkedIn, etc profiles up-to-date, with a professional email address to connect with you, and an appropriate picture. Make sure to remove any immature material/posts from your feeds.

Do away with these scholarship myths

It might be tough to get a scholarship but it is not impossible. People having misguided theories about scholarships often miss out on getting a well-deserved scholarship. Hence, it is important to do away with these myths and apply for scholarships with a clear and calm mind.

  1. Senior year is the best time to start searching for scholarships: This is not the case, if you are in your senior year, then you should have started researching about scholarship right before you were about to start your senior year. It is a good practice to start researching about these points well in advance and maintain a personal database. You can also keep updating those details to keep in check any changes happening between intakes. Keeping a record will help you analyse which scholarship to apply for depending upon their awarding percentage.
  2. Only athletes and toppers can get a scholarship: Anyone who has researched about scholarships will know that this is not true. Even an average academic background, one can be eligible for a scholarship depending on his/her need, participation in extracurricular activities, volunteering activities and so on.
  3. Your scholarship essay should be very vivid and eloquent: This is not entirely true. While your essay should be fluent in language with no grammatical errors, it is always advisable to use your own vocabulary. Your essay should be able to convey your emotions to the readers smoothly. The language of the essay should be cogent and easy-to-read. Although using eloquent words may seem to make a document look good, the reader may not find it a flawless read. Thus, always aim to use your own words and if feel you need help, consult with experts. Also, note that taking help from experts should be limited to the matter of the document and not ghost-writing.
  4. Small scholarships awards are not worth the effort: This is entirely wrong. Any amount of scholarships is received is a good amount. Imagine winning 5-6 scholarships worth $1000. You can probably pay off your first year’s tuition fee. Also, if you have taken a loan, then each penny counts whether it is a $1000 amount or 15000$ amount. Also, it increases your odds of winning a scholarship.
  5. Scholarships are only awarded to minorities or financially weak aspirants: This is again a false belief. A thorough research on the types of scholarships, you would get to know that different scholarships have different criteria. There are scholarships for music, art, dance, social services, volunteering services, sports, academics, and many more. You just need to pick the appropriate one for your profile and hope for the best. Ethnicity and financial background if you are applying to that particular type of scholarship.
  6. Too much competition make it impossible to get a scholarship: Giving up without even trying is never an option. While it is true that the competition is tough, yet you should never back out of it. It all depends on your overall profile and application and a little bit of luck. Apply well before the deadline to increase your chances and apply for as many scholarships as you can.

For more help on scholarships related queries, you can read:

About the Author
Srishti Chatterjee
Study Abroad Expert

Srishti has spent six years in the Education industry helping study abroad aspirants draft their application documents for their dream universities. Experienced in creating impressive SOP, LOR, and Essays, she knows... Read Full Bio






Ma'am, I wanna study abroad after btech but I don't think I can get a scholarship with my percentage. Can you help me on how can I get a scholarship?

Reply to Chione


Srishti ChatterjeeStudy Abroad Expert


Most universities/colleges offer scholarships based on merit or need. You can seek need-based aid if it is applicable to you. This varies as per university so you have to check the respective university website for eligibility criteria. You can also browse some need-based scholarships here: https...Most universities/colleges offer scholarships based on merit or need. You can seek need-based aid if it is applicable to you. This varies as per university so you have to check the respective university website for eligibility criteria. You can also browse some need-based scholarships here: https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/scholarships/masters-courses?st=need

Hey I want to study abroad but I don’t think qualify for a scholarship. How can I get better to get a scholarship?

Reply to Sawsene Laghmiri


Srishti ChatterjeeStudy Abroad Expert


Most scholarships are merit-based, however, some universities offer scholarships based on need as well. You can check the universities' websites to see what kind of scholarships they are offering. You can also check the Govt of India scholarships.




Sir Im st candidate student plz tell how to cancel freeship form. By mistakenly I filled freeship form in place of scholarship

Reply to Mit


Srishti ChatterjeeStudy Abroad Expert


Contact the university directly for this issue.

I am curious to know how one can attach scholarship as financial aid proof because to apply for such scholarship offer letter is a must. Kindly address the same

Reply to Devarupa bhattacharyya


Srishti ChatterjeeStudy Abroad Expert


Financial aid proofs are submitted only after you receive an offer letter. College and university-specific scholarships are awarded at the time of selection. So if a university sends you to admit letter, it will also send you the scholarship offer. Applying for scholarships may have a separate de...Financial aid proofs are submitted only after you receive an offer letter. College and university-specific scholarships are awarded at the time of selection. So if a university sends you to admit letter, it will also send you the scholarship offer. Applying for scholarships may have a separate deadline. Check the respective university website for this info, if they confer scholarships automatically or you need to follow a separate process for scholarship application.

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