Guide to applying for scholarships to American Universities for UK students

Last year over 10,000 students went to study in the USA, the highest number ever. So what is it that’s enticing more and more UK students to study at University in America?

For many students it is about a straight evaluation of the fees and whether it is money well spent in the UK when comparing the academic standards, tutor student ratios, professor contact time, extracurricular activities and world class facilities, which often exceed many UK universities. For others, it is the lure of generous scholarships that many well-funded US Colleges offer to international students and you do not need to be an outstanding academic or elite athlete to be eligible.

But with over 3500 colleges, no UCAS system equivalent and lots of bureaucracy, finding the right university in the US can be a challenging process.

What are US degrees like?

A key attraction for many students is the flexibility of the liberal Arts degrees which offer a broader education that employers are finding appealing. Their modular approach to degrees, where you chose options that you are interested in and decide on your major well into your degree are producing students more adaptable to the work place. Even students who are reasonably sure what they want to do can broaden their world view: scientists need to be able to write and argue, and film studies students should have some understanding of economics.

Aren’t they expensive?
In a word, yes, they can be and unfortunately the UK student loan scheme does not extend to going abroad to study. Finding an affordable course in the States can be a long and drawn out process but the good news is that US universities have a long history of offering scholarships, something which is still in its infancy here in the UK.

Who can get a scholarship?
US Universities are much more open to scholarships, and they are offered not just to elite academics, but for all-rounders (sport, music, extracurricular activities). The Fulbright Scholarship is a good first stop for high achievers seeking the top US Colleges but it is worth looking beyond the Ivy League.

The scholarships awarded are for educational achievements and for sport. The amount awarded varies depending on the student applying but the average pay out of scholarships represents 50% of the tuition, board and lodgings, or in monetary terms, this can reduce the costs to about £8000 per year – all in. Even with the US 4 year degree course it is still almost £20000 cheaper over a full degree term than in the UK.

How do I apply for a scholarship?

Without a centralised admissions service like UCAS, the process for applying directly to universities for a scholarship can be tortuous and expensive. You would need to approach individual University admissions offices for more information on scholarships. Many will ask you to apply, there is a fee involved and also a lot of time submitting each on-line application.

There are also organisations that will do all the hard work for you and source a number of scholarship awards for candidates. They work on a success based system, charging a fee for the sourcing and then for help through the admission process.

Can I get a Sports Scholarships?

For students who play Sports to a good standard but necessarily at an elite level can use their sporting talent to help fund their degree. The key sports are soccer, tennis, golf and basketball and you need to be a good county level or academy player up to the elite standard.

What do I need to do to apply for an International Scholarship?

The first step is to get your qualifications onto a level playing field with the US Students. This means you will need to sit the SAT test, a maths, verbal, and written aptitude test; it’s administered six times a year, with test centres across the UK. Register at You will need to get references from your school, write a personal statement and put together a CV – they like extra-curricular activities such as volunteering, sport and drama, as they are looking for all –rounders.

What is the best time to apply?

International Scholarship applicants need to be applying at the beginning of their final year at school. For Sports scholars it is recommended to start the process in Year 12 so that you can start your degree course when you finish school.

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