A Guide to Financial Aid Application While Studying Abroad

Financial Aid Application

Did you know according to the Indian Student Mobility Report 2023, around 1.3 million Indian students went abroad for further studies? This year, as per RedSeer Strategy consultant, 1.8 to 2 million Indian students are expected to go abroad for further studies. It means 40% to 50% is the surge rate of Indian students going abroad for further studies in 2024 from 2023. 

The Expenses of Studying Abroad in 2024

Although studying abroad in top-ranked universities amidst a multicultural environment seems enthralling, a student has to keep in mind the expenses also.

While studying in European countries like Germany may cost you around INR 20 LPA for Bachelor’s degree tuition fees, moving to a North American country like Canada may cost you, INR 10 LPA to 30 LPA for a master’s degree along with the cost of living is INR 50,000 to 70,000 per month.

So, how can a student manage these expenses consisting of both education and cost of living? 

How to Study Abroad by Managing Expenses

Scholarships, grants offered by universities and federal student aid are the three financial aid types that can assist Indian students in fulfilling their dream of studying abroad. However, while scholarships and grants are completely merit-based and need-based; a student can only get federal student aid by possessing only a Social Security Number. 

In this article, we are going to discuss what a Financial Aid application is all about, different Financial Aid applications and how to apply them if a student is interested in studying abroad. 

So, first start with:

What is a Financial Aid Application?

A financial aid application is a formal request for financial assistance by a student that aids in covering the cost of education. This application is a brief detail that is submitted to an academic institution or an organisation that is assisting students with financial aid. This application must showcase why you need the financial assistance along with other details.  

The application contains information about the applicant’s income, assets, expenses, and other necessary financial information.

What Kind of Financial Assistance You Can Expect to Get

Usually, scholarships, grants, and to some extent federal student aid are the major financial assistance for a study abroad aspirant. 

We are discussing the financial aids here as per their importance: 

  • Scholarships

The Indian government offers a good number of scholarships to Indian students willing to study abroad. These are the Agatha Harrison Memorial Fellowship, The National Overseas Scholarship (NOS), The Fulbright-Nehru Master’s and Doctoral Research Fellowships, and many more. 

The benefits of availing of a fully-funded scholarship are it usually covers the entire tuition fees, cost of travel and accommodation. Along with the Indian government, the universities in the US, UK, Australia and Canada offer fully-funded scholarships for international students. 

Eligibility for obtaining the Scholarships for a UG program:

The first point to note is that an Indian student must not be more than 30 years of age while applying for a UG program.

  • Applicants must have a minimum of 3.4 – 4.0 GPA (Great Point Average) along with an IELTS/TOEFL score of 6.5 – 7(IELTS) or around 100 in the TOEFL iBT. 
  • A student needs to focus on extracurricular activities as well to create a strong profile.
  • Take the entrance exams like the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) and English language testing TOEFL and IELTS more seriously.

The stronger you can make your academic profile, the easier it will be for you to get a study-abroad scholarship. 

The next in the queue is a Grant.

  • Grant

A student may be confused between scholarships and grants. The primary difference between scholarships and grants is that while scholarship is merit-based, grants can be both merit and need-based. Just like scholarships, Indian students are eligible to receive grants also. It is based on their financial affordability.

The financial amount given as a grant may vary from $100 to waiving the tuition fee for three years and living costs. Grants can be subject-based, and provided by charities or university administration bodies. Fulbright Program, Aga Khan Foundation, and Margaret McNamara Education Grant are some of the organisations or programmes that offer grants to international students. 

Eligibility for obtaining Grant:

  • Your academic grades are one of the criteria for grant assistance.
  • Your financial needs are another criterion for receiving grants. Educational institutions and universities usually check family income, assets and educational expenses before offering a grant to a student.

The third in line in financial aid is the federal financial aid.

  • FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a federal financial aid offered to students from US governments for both US and international students. Although not all international students are eligible for FAFSA. As per criteria, if an Indian student has applied for US citizenship or the student’s parents have been working in the US. Then the student is eligible to apply for federal student aid. 

For applying for FAFSA, the Social Security Number is considered an important factor. Either the student or his parents or legal guardian must possess it before applying for FAFSA.

Eligibility for obtaining FAFSA:

The non-US citizens who are eligible for the FAFSA student aid are known as the ‘eligible noncitizens.’ Indian students also fall under the category.

  • The Indian student must come under US ‘noncitizen’ category
  • Must have a Social Security Number
  • High grades in class 10th and intermediate exams

FAFSA applies to US ‘noncitizens’ and to those who live in the U.S. with their parents. If your parents worked in the U.S. and have a social security number, they can assist you in applying for federal aid through FAFSA.

So, these are three financial aids a student can receive while studying abroad with a special mention to the USA.

How to Apply for a Financial Aid Application?

A student needs to do thorough research and networking while applying for financial aid. One major concern is fake or forged financial organisations offering aid to students also exists in the market. Students need to be careful of these types of organisations.

3 Important Points for Students Applying for Financial Aid

  • You are meeting the eligibility criteria
  • You are aware of the application deadline
  • You have all the necessary documentation

Documents Required to Apply for Financial Aid

There are a good number of documents required by a student who wants to go abroad to study. 

Documents required to apply for Scholarships:

  • A fully complete scholarship application form
  • Personal Statement/Letter of Motivation 

(One page four hundred words letter, stating why you want to pursue the UG course and your future career goals)

  • Letter of acceptance from the university
  • Financial documents
  • Updated resume
  • Your extracurricular achievements
  • Standard Test Scores

(SAT, GRE, GPA, IELTS, TOEFL scores)

  • Letter of Recommendation

(From your teacher)

  • Transcripts

(Records from the intermediate school stating your courses and grades and credits that you achieved for each course with an official signature and stamp) 

 Documents required to apply for Grant:

  • Academic transcripts and certificates
  • Standardised test scores
  • Letter of Recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Passport

Documents required to apply for Federal Student Aid:

  • Social Security Number
  • Bank statements
  • FSA ID
  • Parents/Guardians information
  • Resume
  • Scholarship essays
  • Contact details
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Academic transcripts

These are the important documents needed for financial aid applications.

4 Structural Rules for Writing a Financial Aid Application Letter

For getting financial aid, writing the financial aid application letter properly is also important. 

A student can take a look at 4 of the structural rules important for writing a financial aid application letter.

  1. Introduction: Give an introduction about yourself, where you reside, why you want to study at the particular university, and how grateful you are for being accepted into the reputed university (If you are writing it to a university).
  1. Purpose: Be clear and concise from the starting point of the letter that you are writing for receiving financial assistance.
  1. Your academic details: Give a brief description of your academic details in the letter to make the administrative team understand your dedication to higher studies. 
  1. Your financial details: Along with showcasing your academic excellence, you need to state your financial details also. State the university or the organisation clearly why you need financial aid. 

These are the 4 important steps a student needs to follow to write the financial aid application.

Conclusion

For an international student, studying in a reputed university abroad is not easy. The student has to bear the expenses for tuition fees, books, accommodation, visa applications, international airfare and other things. To make things easy for international and Indian students as well, several organisations and universities are offering scholarships and grants to students for higher education. Another important thing is FAFSA, although not all international students are eligible to apply, the article has also offered a brief explanation about the federal student aid system. 

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