Which Costs are Covered by Scholarships for International Students?

by | Nov 2, 2022 | Admissions, Finance

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Winning a big scholarship can significantly reduce or fully cover the costs of your education abroad. A scholarship is financial aid that’s awarded to a student to help them pursue their education.

Unlike loans, you don’t have to repay scholarship funds. In simple terms, it’s free money!

Most scholarships are awarded on merit, with the aim of increasing access to higher education for brilliant but needy students. Scholarships can be awarded by governments, NGOs, universities, private organizations, and even individuals.

Scholarship funds are meant to cover all kinds of education-related expenses including:

  • Tuition
  • Room and board
  • Books
  • Laptops
  • Lab fees
  • Visa fees

The money from scholarships can either be remitted directly to the student or to their school. In cases where the money is remitted to your account, you’re expected to use your discretion in paying the sponsored costs.

However, as much as scholarship money is free, it isn’t money to splurge on shopping sprees. It’s advisable to follow the rules regarding what you’re allowed (or not allowed) to spend the scholarship funds.

Some scholarships come in a one-time payment. Other scholarships are renewable, providing money to eligible students each semester or school year. 

What are the Different Scholarship Types?

In your search for scholarships to fund your study abroad, you’ll come across different kinds of scholarships. In terms of which costs they cover, scholarships can be broadly categorized as:

  • Fully Funded ScholarshipsCover all expenses related to your education such as tuition, books, room and board, living expenses, and possibly airfare
  • Full Tuition ScholarshipsCover the cost of tuition only. Typically, full tuition scholarships other educational expenses such as books, room and board, lab equipment, and airfare.
  • Partial scholarships — Cover a portion of your education related costs. For instance, a partial scholarship might cover 50% of tuition only.

Common Expenses Covered by Scholarship Funds

Below, let’s have an in-depth exploration of the common expenses covered by money from scholarships:

Tuition Fees

Tuition expenses are the most expensive part of pursuing higher education abroad. Tuition ranges from 20% to 40% of the total costs of pursuing your degree abroad.

Most scholarships cover at least a portion of your tuition expenses. In fact, many scholarship sponsors remit the funds directly to the university’s financial aid office to apply to your tuition bill.

Both fully funded (full ride) and full tuition scholarships cover 100% of your tuition expenses. Partial scholarships might cover only a portion of the tuition fees, meaning you have to source for more funds to fully cover the tuition expenses.

Room and Board

For the period of your study, you’ll need some form of student accommodation—whether it’s on-campus or off-campus.

Some scholarships also cover the costs of your accommodation, including your meals. Read your scholarship award carefully to find out whether it covers room and board, and if there are any stipulations in the kind of accommodation.

If the information isn’t clearly indicated, contact the provider and enquire. With room and board taking up as much as 30% of the total costs of your education per year, it’s important to make sure whether it’s covered by your scholarship award.

Educational Supplies

A good chunk of the total cost of your studies abroad will also go to educational supplies such as books, laptops, course materials, and so on. Books can be quite expensive, which can throw you for a loop if you’re not prepared.

Fortunately, some scholarships cover the costs associated with these educational supplies. Having these costs covered ensures that your personal budget isn’t disrupted by costly educational supplies.

Living Expenses

Your education abroad will come with other living costs such as:

  • Health insurance
  • Transportation (including international airfare)
  • Technology
  • Groceries
  • Clothing

These costs are also covered by some scholarships. Some scholarships cover all these expenses, while others may only cover one or two. It’s important to find out which living expenses are covered by your scholarship before you splurge on unnecessary items.

Research and Lab Fees

For students in STEM programs, scholarships may also cover the costs associated with research and the use of lab equipment. That is often the case with postgraduate studies— which come with extensive research that can be quite costly.

Certain kinds of scholarships are meant to specifically fund research endeavors in form of grants and research fellowships.

Visa Processing Fees

For international students, visa processing is one of the initial costs to worry about. For students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, such costs can be a major hurdle.

Luckily, some scholarships also cover visa processing fees for international students. Read the award specifications or enquire from the provider to find out if your scholarship covers visa fees.

Final Word on Scholarships and What They Cover

Now you know exactly which expenses to expect your scholarship to cover. Each scholarship will outline what the funds should cover. If anything is unclear, reach out to the provider for clarification.

While you’re not required to pay back money from scholarship, renewable scholarships come with strings attached. They come with requirements such as maintaining a high GPA, spending the money on specified expenses, and good social conduct.

Failure to adhere to the rules of your scholarship award can lead to you losing it. Even worse, you may bear the responsibility of repaying the money if you use it on unauthorized expenses. 

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