Q1: What is the difference between a scholarship, a fellowship, a grant and a loan?
A scholarship and fellowship are interchangeable terms and are awards given by an organization or institution to fund the education of a selected student. Different awards can be used for tuition, books, room and board, research, travel, or other education related expenses. Each award specifies the purpose for which the funds can be used. Some scholarships/fellowships can also have a service requirement meaning that you are expected to fulfil a work requirement after completion of the scholarship or fellowship.
A grant funds a student’s education and does not have to be paid back.
A loan must be repaid, but some college loans do not collect interest until the student graduates. Please keep in mind that there are always exceptions to these definitions. Should you have any questions, please contact us in the University Fellowships Office.
Q2: Who can apply for scholarships?
Generally anyone can apply for a scholarship but each scholarship has it’s own criteria. Make sure that you fit the criteria of the scholarship.
Q3: Do I have to be a full-time student when I apply for scholarships?
It depends. For most of the scholarships candidates need to be full time students. But, there are scholarships that are open to alumni. Fulbright student scholarships are one of those types, where the eligibility does not depend on your student status.
Q4: Do I have to be a citizen of the United States to apply for scholarships?
There are scholarships that are available to all Penn State students, however, many of them do require U.S. citizenship in order to be eligible. Nevertheless, our University Fellowships Office staff is very eager to support international students. If you know about scholarships that are not listed on our website and you, as international student, are eligible for, please let us know.
There are more and more scholarships for international students, and we are happy to talk with you about them.
Q5: Where can I look for scholarships?
You are in the right place! If you are not sure what scholarship is a good match for what you want and what you might be eligible for, the University Fellowships Office website is a good starting point to get to know more about prestigious scholarships. There are other valuable resources too, like workshops and information sessions for specific programs sponsored by the University Fellowships Office. Your faculty advisors, mentors, and peers may be familiar with relevant scholarships as well. Of course, you can always make an appointment with Dr. Furman or other staff members by calling 814-863-8199.
Q6: Are there academic criteria for scholarships?
Most scholarships prefer students who are in good academic standing at the time of application. Sometimes scholarships will include a GPA requirement. If a scholarship does not include a specific requirement but states it requires good academic standing, do not assume that you are not in this category. Scholarships have different perspectives on what qualifies as “good standing.”
Q7: How should I begin the process of applying?
If you already know which scholarship you want to apply for, you should read very carefully the eligibility criteria, as well as the aims of the program. Try to meet the program goals without compromising your initial purpose of applying. If you are not sure which scholarship would be the most appropriate to pursue, it is a good idea to visit the University Fellowships Office, and make appointment by calling 814-863-8199.
Q8: Do I have to do more than fill out an application form?
In the most cases an application form is not enough. Most scholarships applications require a personal statement, and/or grant purpose statement. Almost all scholarships require at least two or three, and in some cases even more recommendation letters. Recommendation letters can be crucial in the application process, so choose your recommenders wisely. Try to approach senior professors, with whom you have established good working relationships.
Q9: What are the odds of winning a scholarship?
Prestigious scholarships are often very competitive and the statistics can be discouraging. However, meeting with the University Fellowships Office can help maximize your potential, as well as identify scholarships that will match your ambitions.
Q10: Does it matter what field I want to study?
Yes. You will want your scholarship to compliment and extend your developing areas of interest and expertise. While many scholarships appeal to specific disciplines or majors, a conversation with our office can help identify how a variety of scholarships may relate to your interests.
Q11: How long do scholarships last?
Scholarships can range from 6 weeks to one year or more.
Q12:How can I be notified for upcoming scholarships deadlines?
The University Fellowships Office has a calendar of all deadlines published on the website. Some scholarships have their own e-newsletters, Facebook or twitter accounts, to which you can subscribe and get the information directly.
Q13: Should I apply for more than one scholarship, fellowship, or award?
If possible, yes. Some scholarships may be compatible with others and, should you win multiple that cannot be held simultaneously, you always have the option to decline.
Q14: Where do I obtain an official or unofficial copy of my transcript?
Always pay attention if a scholarship application requires an official transcript. An official transcript is much different than an unofficial/or advising transcript. You need to request the official transcript from the Office of the University Registrar (http://www.registrar.psu.edu/transcripts/transcripts.cfm). It may take several days for the transcripts to be mailed, so request the transcripts on time.
Q15: Is there an interview required as part of the application process? And, if so, how can I best prepare for the interview?
Many scholarships require an interview as a part of the application process. If you are required to have an interview, it would be a good idea to go over your application materials before the interview and think about the possible questions you would be asked. Talking out-loud to a friend or mentor would give you an opportunity to hear your thoughts. You should dress professionally/formally as if it were a job interview.