What are the Chances of Receiving a Scholarship?

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Srishti Chatterjee
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Oct 19, 2022 11:49 IST

What are the chances of receiving a Scholarship?

Types of Scholarships

It is a fact that studying abroad requires a lot of investment, in terms of finance, irrespective of the programme, course, university, or country. It can be difficult and costly to study abroad. With the cost of tuition, living expenses and travel, studying abroad is not a cheap endeavor. However, many students are convinced that it is worth investing in their education because the impact will be significant in their future career as well as in their life.

The best shot a student has for arranging funds 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 us have a look at the types of academic scholarships available for any programme.

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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. For e.g. 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. The key to a successful application is providing an impressive and comprehensive profile in the first place. 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 that is different from the normal applications’ deadline.

Check: Creative Writing scholarships for Indian students

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. Need-based scholarships are a great way to help students with financial difficulties get an education. They are also a great way for students to explore different career paths and gain skills that can help them in their future careers. Need-based scholarships exist in many forms, ranging from grants, to loans, and work-study. There are also scholarships that focus on specific areas of study like STEM or education. Students who want to apply for need-based scholarships should look into the qualifications and requirements for the scholarship they are interested in applying for. Some scholarships may require a certain GPA or previous work experience while others may not have any requirements at all.

Government scholarships: There are a few scholarships programmes 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. In addition, 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. Government scholarships can be used at any point during a student's academic career, whether it is for undergraduate or graduate education, vocational training or professional development courses.

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.

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Tough Competition in Getting a Scholarships

All the above-mentioned scholarship programmes are not only tough to get into, but also 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. The amount of money that can be earned from these scholarships is also limited. However, with a little luck and hard work, students can still earn 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.

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 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. 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 highlight 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. You would not only 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 rejection. 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 display 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 display 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 $1,000 amount or $15,000 amount. In addition, it increases your odds of winning a scholarship.
  • 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.
  • 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:

Scholarships FAQs

Q. Where can I find a comprehensive list of scholarships?

A. To access a comprehensive list of scholarships, you can visit the link here.

Q. Is it compulsory that I need to excel in all the fields to earn a scholarship for studying abroad?

A. Absolutely not. There is no doubt that your profile matters to a huge extent. However, students with average marks can also bag a scholarship. You must do a thorough research before applying for a scholarship to increase your success chances.

Q. Can I combine a scholarship and part-time work to reduce my cost of studying abroad?

A. Yes. You can apply for scholarships and at the same time choose to work part-time. However, certain scholarships might require you to perform well academically. Hence, you must strike a right balance between your studies and work.

Q. Is it true that scholarships are only meant to tuition fee?

A. No. There are various scholarships that cover your living expenses as well. In addition, there are some scholarships such as Eiffel Excellence Scholarship that covers only international ticket, Health insurance and cultural activities, etc.

Q. Is it compulsory to provide an essay to gain a scholarship?

A. Essays or motivation letters depend on the scholarship. Most of the scholarship require some form of essay or motivation letters.

Q. Where can I contact your experts for guidance and counseling?

A. We welcome you to take guidance from our expert team. To apply, you can click here.
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



Haritha Bhatta

12 months ago

Can we apply to many small scholarships and use multiple scholarships if we are granted?

Reply to Haritha Bhatta



2 years ago

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

2 years ago

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:/


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

2 years ago

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.



2 years ago

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

2 years ago

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

2 years ago

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 deadl


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