Application Advice

A Guide To Financial Aid & Scholarships For US Colleges

3 Minute Read

Starting a higher education journey in the United States is an exhilarating yet financially overwhelming opportunity for international students. The good news is that many US universities offer a range of financial aid options, from need-based aid to merit-based scholarships. While our curated lists below aren’t exhaustive, consider them your friendly compass, guiding you as you explore the myriad possibilities.

Need-based aid

Unlike merit-based scholarships, which are awarded based on your achievements and talents, need-based aid is designed to support students who demonstrate financial need. Institutions consider factors such as your family's income, assets, and the cost of attending the university when determining eligibility for need-based aid. Some larger institutions are even need-blind - meaning an applicant’s ability to pay does not affect their admission decision.

Here are the most generous US universities that offer need-based aid up to 100% to international students:


Remember to check each university's official website for the most accurate and up-to-date information on their financial aid offerings. Additionally, universities may change their financial aid policies, so it's always a good idea to contact the financial aid office of the specific institution you're interested in for the latest details on need-based funding.


Merit-based scholarships

These scholarships recognise and reward students for their outstanding academic performance, leadership skills, extracurricular involvement, talents, or other exceptional qualities. Here are a few noteworthy scholarships, each with its unique approach:


#YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship

  • Applicants share their ideas on bridging intercultural divides through an essay or a multimedia project.
  • Participating institutions offer renewable scholarships covering at least 50% of tuition.


Centre College: Lincoln Scholars Program

  • This program offers full ride scholarship for 10 students, renewable for four years.
  • Applicants must show strong leadership potential and involvement in extracurricular activities. A minimum score of 90 on the TOEFL or 7.0 on the IELTS is also required.


Davidson College: John M. Belk Scholarship

  • Outstanding students are nominated by their high schools to compete for full funding and study stipends.
  • Candidates must demonstrate academic excellence, intellectual curiosity, and purposeful engagement in various aspects of life.


American University in Washington DC: Emerging Global Leaders Scholarship

  • This scholarship is specifically awarded to only one international student per year who has demonstrated academic excellence, leadership, and global engagement. The scholarship covers tuition, room and board, and is renewable for up to four years based on continued satisfactory performance.


Washington University: Danforth Scholars Program

  • This program covers full tuition with a $2,500 stipend or partial tuition and is renewed each year for the entire duration of the degree.
  • Applicants must have excellent academic achievement, personal integrity and high ideals, and show strong a commitment to their community. 


University of Wisconsin – Madison: King-Morgridge Scholars Program

  • The program seeks for students who apply their talents, drive and exceptional thinking to address poverty issues in their own countries.
  • Full four-year scholarship covering tuition, fees, room, board, health insurance, airfare, and a stipend for 6 students.


Navigating Your Path

When applying for any university, it’s important to read the specific requirements, deadlines, and application processes for each scholarship. Remember that authenticity is key in your applications - share your unique story and achievements. Consider seeking guidance from mentors or teachers as you navigate the application process.

Whilst this list provides a starting point, you should explore additional opportunities offered by various institutions and consider the ones most relevant to your needs. Financial aid is a bridge, connecting your aspirations with the vast possibilities that a US university education can offer. Best of luck on your journey! 

At A-List, we understand that the journey to studying in the United States can be both exciting and challenging. Our team is passionate about assisting students in navigating the complexities of the American university system and finding the best opportunities for their education and aspirations.

Since 2005, we've been helping students like you with SAT/ACT prep, university selection, and application advice. Our experienced consultants are here to guide you every step of the way. Ready to start your US study journey? Contact us for a free initial chat and find out how we can help you succeed.