So what kind of scholarships can a fellowships office help you with applying for?
Here’s the disappointing news: There are plenty of scholarships that are aimed toward helping you pay for your undergraduate tuition, but that’s usually not what a fellowship office works on because 1) there are so many 2) they sometimes have very narrow criteria (residents of a certain county or children of employees of a specific company, etc.) and 3) they offer a relatively small amount of money ($500-$1000). Most fellowships offices are small, with limited staff, so they focus on the larger, more well-known scholarships, which also tend to be the most competitive.
Note: my office takes a slightly different approach. I do advertise three specific scholarships geared toward students with high financial need. I choose to do this because the scholarships are open to New Hampshire and New England residents (a large percentage of students at my school) and because the award amounts are a bit higher ($2000-$18,000) and, in one case, renewable. You might inquire if your fellowships office is aware of any scholarships for tuition that are specifically for students with high financial need.
So what can you get money for?
One big category is study abroad scholarships. There are several major scholarships that aim to help American students get abroad. One is the Benjamin Gilman scholarship, which offers up to $5000 to students who are receiving Pell grants as part of their financial aid to take part in a credit-bearing study or intern abroad program lasting four weeks or longer. The Gilman scholarship is particularly interested in encouraging first generation college students, students of color, students with disabilities, those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors, and those planning to study in non-traditional destinations (i.e., NOT western Europe, Australia, or New Zealand).
The Freeman Asia scholarship is very similar to the Gilman, but is limited to study in Asian countries.
Another award is the Critical Language Scholarship, which provides a fully-funded 8-10 week international immersion language experience in 14 different languages considered critical to U.S. national security (Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Russian, etc.)
Some scholarships aim to identify future leaders in a particular field. One of those is the Udall scholarship, which offers $7000 and fabulous networking opportunities to sophomores and juniors who plan to pursue careers related to the environment or tribal/Native American public health and public policy. For the Udall, applicants’ records of leadership, research experience, and involvement in community activities/public service related to the environment or Native American issues is weighed as heavily, if not more, than the academic performance of an applicant.
Other awards that identify future leaders include the Goldwater Scholarship, which selects students in STEM majors who have the potential for successful research careers, and the Hollings Scholarship, for sophomores who demonstrate interest in fields related to the mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Similarly, there are fellowships that identify students who want to go into public service careers or the Foreign Service. The Truman Scholarship, named after President Harry S. Truman, looks for “change agents,” who plan to work in public service careers (the government, non-profits, educational institutions, etc.) The Rangel or Pickering scholarships are specifically for those who would like to have a career in the Foreign Service (working in consular and diplomatic services for the Department of State and representing the U.S. abroad).
Besides these opportunities, there are a number of awards that provide funding for graduate study, either in the U.S. or abroad. For students studying in STEM fields, the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and NASA all have generous, but highly competitive, awards.
Have you ever heard of the Fulbright program? Fulbright grants provide full funding for study, research, or English teaching in over 140 countries; students must hold at least a bachelor’s degree by the time the grant starts. (It is a pretty long application process—you apply about a year before the grant period begins!)
Fulbright is one of the main scholarships for many fellowships offices because there are quite a few awards offered each year (around 1500!) and because it is open to students in all fields.
If you choose to do independent research on a Fulbright, you have a lot of flexibility! A Fulbright can allow you to design your own project: you might research and write a young adult novel on the Jewish community in Morocco during WWII, interview and videotape contemporary Chinese artists, or study how the engineers in the Netherlands design flood-resistant houses and dikes. There is also a special business internship program in Mexico; a “combined” grant in Austria that allows you to teach English, take graduate level classes, and volunteer in the community; and grants for doing a master’s degree in the UK, Italy, France, or several other countries. Additionally, Fulbright offers English Teaching Assistantships in over 60 countries. There are lots of options!
Fulbright believes that recipients play an important role as cultural ambassadors and they look carefully at applicants’ ability to engage in cross-cultural exchange successfully.
I hope this has gotten you excited about some of the possibilities that scholarships offer! Next time, in the third and final post, I’ll talk about how to be competitive for scholarships.
Guest Blog Author, Ms. Jeanne Sokolowski
Jeanne Sokolowski is the director of the Office of National Fellowships at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. She was a first generation college student when she attended Rockford College in Illinois and, for many years, had no idea about the world of scholarships! She stumbled upon information on the Fulbright program and went on to receive a Fulbright research grant to South Korea in 2002. She subsequently earned masters degrees in education and English, and published several articles on Asian and Native American literature before falling into and in love with the field of fellowships advising.