Are you interested in studying, working, or teaching English in another country?
If you’re a college graduate (or soon to be one), then you may want to consider applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. This prestigious program awards a Fulbright scholarship to more than 1,500 individuals every year.
Fulbright scholars study and work in diverse fields all over the world. But what they have in common is a commitment to international exchange and solving global challenges.
Whether you’re a student, researcher, artist, or teacher, you could have a life-changing experience with a Fulbright scholarship. Plus, you’d be paying for grad school without any student loans!
What is a Fulbright scholarship?
Fulbright scholarships come in all shapes and sizes.
One scholarship could go to a writer finishing her novel in the Philippines. Another could support a Master’s student researching robots in the UK. A Fulbright scholarship could even sponsor a music student’s exploration of traditional folk music in rural China.
The Fulbright Program operates in more than 160 countries across the world. A Fulbright scholarship isn’t just for paying for grad school. It also supports research projects that drive innovation, solve complex problems, or add to our cross-cultural understanding.
Thanks to federal funding, the Fulbright scholarship covers most or all of the costs of tuition, books, research, room and board, living costs, health insurance, and round-trip transportation. Exact amounts differ by country and student.
What are the eligibility requirements for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program?
So, how can you qualify for a Fulbright scholarship? And could this international program be the answer to your question of how to pay for grad school?
There are a few different strands of the Fulbright program, including one for international students and one for seasoned professionals.
I’ll focus on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The U.S. Student Program sends American students abroad to attend grad school, conduct research, or teach English.
For this program, you need to be a U.S. citizen and hold a Bachelor’s degree before the grant starts. If you’re carrying out research, then you’ll need some proficiency in the host country’s native language. This requirement is waived for English teachers in certain places, like Korea and other East Asian countries.
You should also be pretty new to the host country. The Fulbright program wants to give students the opportunity to live abroad. If you’ve already lived in your host country, then you’ll be at a competitive disadvantage.
Finally, if you’re applying for an artist grant, then you must have at least four years of professional training in the creative or performing arts.
Tips for applying for a Fulbright scholarship
A scholarship that pays for grad school, living costs, and transportation in a foreign country? Yes, a Fulbright scholarship is as amazing as it sounds. That’s why you need to put together a stellar application to get one.
Fulbright scholarships are merit-based, but you don’t need to be top of your class to qualify.
The Fulbright committee wants to see that you’re a well-rounded person with unique passions and goals. They rely a great deal on your application essays to get a sense of who you are and how you’ll make the most of a Fulbright scholarship.
Not only should you work hard on your application essays, but you also need to provide three glowing recommendations.
Therefore, take the time to meet with your professors or employers to talk about your interests. A generic recommendation letter simply won’t do. You need to make sure yours goes in-depth about your strengths and personality.
Finally, you should state specific goals for the year ahead. Say exactly what you’ll study, where you’ll live, and why your year deserves funding. Keep in mind that some countries are more competitive than others.
For the 2016 to 2017 year, for instance, six students got awards for Australia out of 63 applications. Mongolia also gave six awards, but there were only 11 applications. Australia applicants had only about a nine percent chance of acceptance, while applicants to Mongolia had about a 54 percent chance.
The takeaway? Consider applying to a less “popular” country to maximize your chances of getting accepted.
Should you apply to the Fulbright program?
If spending a year abroad with a scholarship paying for grad school appeals to you, then you should look into the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. For inspiration, you can check out what current Fulbright scholars are doing on the ground.
The Fulbright Program expects students to engage in the host country and form relationships with people. They look for people with a high level of independence and self-direction in their work. Even from the beginning, you’re expected to have a concrete plan for the year ahead.
If you decide to apply, then take several months to do research, clarify your goals, write your essays, and put together the best application you can. And if all goes well, you could be spending the next year in a foreign country having the experience of a lifetime!
Looking for other sources for grad school funding? Check out this guide to learn more about how to pay for grad school without loans.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 1/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.25% – 13.25%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.07% – 12.78%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.62% – 11.47%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.38% – 13.38%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.85% – 6.99%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.93% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.48% – 12.35%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|