The scholarship files

STUDYING ABROAD

The scholarship files

FUNDING FUNDAS It is always a good idea to scout all the options available as scholarships can prove to be very competitive.

After hours of preparation for various standardised tests and countless sleepless nights filing lengthy applications, the acceptance letter to the university you always dreamt of attending arrives in your mail. But, just as every Indian movie needs a villain, every acceptance letter comes with a catch — exorbitant tuition fees, which not all of us can afford.

Most of us rely on school-offered financial packages to fund our education, but not everybody is fortunate enough to receive a scholarship offer. This does not mean that you have hit a dead-end or bank loans are your only option. There are several external scholarships offered by charit-able organisations across the country, which can help you balance your finances better and make your transition to university abroad a lot less stressful.

Some of the most popular scholarships are:

Inlaks Foundation

This scholarship which covers full tuition fees and provides a stipend for living expenses is not only among the most comprehensive scholarships available in the country, but also among the most selective. Apply early and prepare well for the interview, known to be among the toughest in the business.

Tata scholarships

The Tata Group has instituted several scholarships to help students pay for their education, both in India and abroad. The most popular one is the Sri Ratan Tata Trust travel scholarship, given to students and professionals to cover their airfare costs. Most students who provide the right documentation are awarded this scholarship, which does not require any interview. The J N Tata Endowment loan and Sir Dorabji Tata Trust are also good options to consider.

Commonwealth scholarship scheme and Cheve-ning scholarships

Anyone interested in studying in the UK should spend some time researching these scholarships, which are awarded to several students across the country every year to enable them to pursue their higher education in the United Kingdom. The difficulty level of obtaining the Commonwealth shared scholarship depends on the university you chose for your education, as many schools allocate a certain number of fellowships they offer to their top applicants.

It is always a good idea to make a trip to your local British Council to meet with a representative who will help you look up options for financial assistance in the UK. Also, http://www.britishcouncil.org/india provides lots of valuable information about the various grants that you can apply for, based on the subject area you wish to study.

Fulbright Scholarship Program

Simply known as one of the most prestigious award programmes worldwide, the Fulbright Scholarship Program operates in over 155 countries. Forty Fulbright alumni have won Nobel prizes, so you will be joining illustrious company as a Fulbright scholar.
Like the Inlaks scholarship, this covers the tuition fees and awards a stipend for living expenses. Fulbright Scholarship is perhaps the most selective scholarship in the world and also requires you to return to your home country once you complete your education.

Aga Khan Foundation

The Aga Khan Foundation provides a number of scholarships each year for postgraduate studies to outstanding students from India. These scholarships are awarded on a 50% grant : 50% loan basis through a competitive application process usually started sometime in June or July.

While the Foundation gives priority to requests for Master's level courses, it sometimes considers applications for PhD programmes too.

BPCL scholarships

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) offers a few scholarships each year in varying amounts, depending on the candidate's requirements and funds available. Although the BPCL Scholarship is a relatively new venture, it has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years. While applying for this scholarship, make sure you highlight all your achievements in extracurricular activities as these are said to play an important part in the decision making process.

University-based aid

Several universities have certain amounts of money earmarked for students of a particular nationality. For example, the Reliance Stanford GSB Scholar-ship, given to Indian nationals, covers tuition and stipend. Both Oxford and Cambridge (www.oxbridgeindia.com) have special scholarships for Indian citizens, usually meant to supplement the total financial aid package awarded. Always check the scholarship database of schools to see if you have covered all your bases while applying for financial aid. If you find this information hard to come by, do not hesitate to send an enquiry e-mail to your programme co-ordinator, requesting help.

It is important to remember that most of these scholarships are very competitive, so do not let failures dishearten you. It is never too late to write a polite, short, persuasive email to your department's financial aid office explaining your financial situation, for, in most cases you get some extra scholarship money added to your package. Always be honest on your financial statement as most colleges do background verifications and if you have provided false information, not only will your scholarship be revoked but in a lot of cases, your admission will also be reconsidered.

How to find a scholarship

1) Comb the financial aid database of the university where you intend to study and make sure that you have applied for every single scholarship which matches your eligibility criteria.

2) Browse through the scholarships available for Indian students. Simply google the course you intend to study, followed by the word scholarship and you will get several results. It does take time to sort out the relevant ones, but most often you find new sources of funding, which might be of help. Look through www.educationinfoindia.com/scholarships, which has a comprehensive list of available grants.

3) If these two fail, look at third party websites like scholarship.org, scholarshipnet.info, etc., and subscribe to their newsletters. This will bring scholarship information and alerts right to your inbox.

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