A Beautiful Mind

The Reflections Of My Mind

External Financial Aid – Part 1

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External financial aid is the financial assistance that a student can receive from sources other than the school or the university. It primarily comes from the numerous charitable organizations that provide scholarships or loans to students going for higher studies. Many times such a financial assistance is not related to the one received from the school, if awarded. However, in some cases the students have to notify the school of any external award/grant they receive and the amount awarded externally is then adjusted to the amount received from the school.

An external financial aid can be in various forms:

Gift Award: An outright grant by an organizations based on your application strength or need. There is no contest to be won in order to receive such an award. This is awarded many times by NGOs that do numerous types of charities including but not limited to helping people in attaining higher level of education. Such awards are mainly given on a need-cum-merit basis.

Loan Scholarship: A loan with either no or very low interest rate. This is also awarded most of the times by NGOs that do numerous types of charities including but not limited to helping people in attaining higher level of education. The amount received can vary from being small part of the tution to full tuition. These are normally the most sought after scholarships due to the possibility of getting an interest free full-tuition loan.

Loan-cum-gift: These are a mix of the above two categories where-in a part of the aid is given as gift and the rest of the amount has to be returned to the awarding organization at a later date.

Competition bases awards: These are in the form of essay competitions or some other form of contests. Some of these awards are open to all through out the academic circles but some are available only at the schools or universities with whom the awarding organization has a relationship. Sometimes these are not awarded by charities but by corporates who are trying to identify potential high performing employees.

Finally: Any other form that I do not know yet 🙂

In most cases every awarding organization has its own set of rules and eligibility criteria. Like your business school applications, these applications are also time-consuming and require a lot of effort. Most of them ask for a Statement of Purpose (similar to your career goals essay), recommendations, academic record and financial background information. In case of aid distributed by charity organizations, the amount is small but its available to many applicants. Sometimes only your travel expenses are covered, sometimes only a part of the tuition fees is covered and sometimes the entire tuition fees is covered (with some conditions). However, just as every drop of water constitutes to overall ocean, every small grant is helpful to the students.

The most important aspect here is to identify the numerous organizations that distribute such financial assistance. An important source of information for this is the school or university website. The financial aid section of each b-school website lists numerous sources of financial aid for all students – domestic and international. Here are some of the example links:




An important thing to remember here is that in many cases these lists are indicative and the students have to get in touch with the concerned organizations themselves. Each organization has its own deadline to apply and also its own set of eligibility criteria. Non-indian candidates can follow the links in the financial aid section of numerous b-schools or universities to identify the organizations where they can apply.

After an intensive search for the available options for Indian applicants, I was able to make a list of about 78 organizations that provide financial assistance for higher studies. The information available on the internet (or via any other source) was usually incomplete and I had personally get in touch with each organization to understand if I was an eligible candidate or not. It took me more than six weeks to identify the final 12 organizations where I was eligible to apply. The information received was not up-to-date or complete. Many of the organizations have now stopped providing any financial assistance, some do not exist any more, some provide assistance only to people following a particular religion or belonging to a particular community and so on.

My list was down to 12 as I was eligible to apply only the most generic scholarships that are open to everyone from India. The competition for such open category (as we refer to the people who do not belong to any reserved section of the society) is highly intense as people from both open and reserved category are eligible to apply. People from India will understand what I am trying to say here. As a result of this intense competition, the chances of getting any award are very low. Like the admission process, it all again drills down to your past academic record (read GPA), past awards received, recommendations, undergraduate school reputation, your current financial standing vis-a-vis that of other applicants, post graduation (not just post MBA 🙂 ) goals, etc.

I will soon post a list of all legitimate organizations that still provided financial assistance for higher studies to Indian citizens. As far as my current standing is concerned, my application was rejected by 4 organization, I have interviews scheduled with 2 of them, I am waiting for the results from 4 organizations and I received an award from 2 organizations :). The overall amount is minute when compared to my total expenses for the two-year MBA program at Olin, but when it comes to filling up the ocean I guess every little drop of water counts.


Written by abeautifulmind1

July 9, 2010 at 6:17 pm

3 Responses

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  1. […] Jul As promised in my previous post (External Financial Aid – Part 1), I am posting here the details of all the organizations that provide financial assistance for […]

  2. […] Beautiful Mind wrote a two part post about external financial aid that any international applicant might find useful. Columbia ’12 P. searched for the perfect […]

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