Types of Financial Aid – Assistantships, Fellowships and Scholarships

Raghu Admission 92 Comments

financial aid

Financial Aid is awarded to international students in two different forms.

  • Assistantship
  • Fellowships (or Scholarships)

Let’s looks in detail about different types of financial aid in details in this blog post.


Generally, Graduate degree students (Ph.D. and Master’s ) students are awarded assistantships, which fall into four general categories:

  • Teaching Assistant (TA)
  • Research Assistant (RA)
  • Graduate Assistant (GA)
  • Graduate Research Assistant (GRA)

These awards are typically administered by fields and departments.

To get assistantships, generally students will work as teaching assistant or take part in research.

Students with assistantships typically receive the following benefits

  • Monthly Pay
  • Tuition Fee Waiver (or Instate Fees)
  • Health Insurance Coverage

Teaching Assistants (TA)

A teaching assistant is an academic appointment in support of the teaching of a course.  Teaching assistants may assist in the teaching a section of a course, lead discussions, and/or lead laboratory sections.

For International Students High TOEFL Scores of TSE (or equivalent) scores is required to get apply for TA’s.

Graduate Research Assistantship

A GRA is an academic appointment focused on thesis or other degree-related research of a type that is required from all candidates for the degree.  The research project for a GRA directly supports the student’s thesis or dissertation.

Because a student devotes cionsiderable time to thesis or dissertation research, the time devoted to the graduate research assistantship is expected to be significant.

Research assistantships(RAs):

An RA is an academic appointment for research that is not directly thesis-related, 15 to 20 hours per week, averaging no more than 15 hours per week.  For example, a RA appointment might include data analysis on a faculty research project not directly related to the student’s dissertation topic.  As with other assistantships, there is no separate application.  Students are appointed by departments, fields, or individual faculty.

Graduate Assistantships (GAs):

A GA also can be related to doing work in other departments not related to thesis or projects for your course work.

Example – Data analysis on a faculty research project not directly related to the student’s dissertation topic.

Working in Computer Labs of other departments.


Fellowships are generally merit-based awards intended to support a student in a full-time course of study.

This includes stipend and Tuition Waiver.

Students are not required to work like TA’s and GA’s in this case.

Students are not required to pay back the money.

Fellowships and Scholarships sometimes refers the same, but there could be fine distinctions between them.

Comparing this to student loan, where it has to to paid back with interest, with fellowships there are no obligation for students to pay back the money.

Fellowships vs Scholarships

Scholarships – Financial Aid given for Bachelors Degree students

Fellowships – Financial Aid given to Post Bachelors degree students.

Questions About Financial Aid?

Do you have any questions about Financial Aid? Post them in the comments below.

  • jaspreet says:

    i am in third year of btech biotechnology and i wish to do my masters from abroad (most preferably canada or new zealand) but i have a little idea about the fee structure and cost of living in these countries . can you please suggest me cost and living expenses (approx idea) and also is there any scope and good universities for doing masters in biotech from new zealand

    • Revathi Reddy says:

      Hi Jaspreet!

      How are you doing? The living costs for international students to study in New Zealand is $NZ 15000-17000 per academic year

      Top universities to study Biotech in New Zealand are:

      University of Canterbury
      Victory University of Willington
      University of Waikato
      University of Otago
      AUT university
      University of Auckland

  • radhika says:

    how do i apply for full fellowship on the bases of merit???

    • Revathi Reddy says:

      While applying for a scholarship, take a note of below details:

      Don’t miss the deadlines.
      Start your scholarship research as early as possible.
      Read eligibility requirements carefully
      Make a separate file for each scholarship and sort the files by application due dates
      Keep organized and gather all items that you need to apply:
      High school transcript
      Standardized test scores
      Financial aid forms
      Parents financial information
      One or more essays
      One or more recommendation letters and
      Proof of eligibility for the scholarship
      Follow instructions in the application form
      Fill complete details and check thoroughly before sending and
      Remember to keep the copies of scholarship application which makes it easier to resend it quickly in case if you application details in mail.

  • Am-civil says:

    Hi HSB
    i have a question, please help me. i have finished master of civil (structural) engineering in iran. my GPA is 3.03 and i have 1 international conference paper(2012) and submitted 1 isi paper(2012). i will take the GRE and TOEFL exams during next 2 month. if i can get min. 1200 in gre exam and 100+ in toefl exam, is there any possibility for me to receive scholarship or financial aid for PHD? if so, it is better for me to take the exams first and then email to professors to find a supervisor or now it is the time to start emailing?

  • Ramesh says:

    Most queries and discussions are around graduate studies. Am interested in undergrad studies. Can u help.

    • Revathi Reddy says:

      Hi Ramesh!

      Before answering your question about undergraduate studies, I would like to ask few questions:

      Where do you want to pursue your undergraduate studies?(i.e., U.S. U.K. , Australia etc)
      What information do you want about undergraduate studies?(i.e., scholarships, tuition fees, subjects dealt in undergraduate studies etc.)

      Pls answer to these questions and I will let you know further information.

  • pinky says:

    I’m a final yr student of electrical and electronics engineering. I’ve had 4 backologs in 2nd yr but i cleared all of them.My cgpa till date is 6.95. I got placed in a company but i would like to pursue my masters in the US . Which colleges would likely accept me?

  • Gowtham says:

    How much money is needed for an undergraduate study in the top universities in US. I’m from India.

    • Revathi Reddy says:


      A student has to spend annually US 8000-15000 $(i.e., 4 L to 7.5L per year) to study undergraduate course in top universities like University of Texas, University of Florida, University of California etc. Whereas to study in a private university, a student has to spend annual US 10000 – 20000$(i.e., 5L – 10L Per year).

  • Ritesh Kumar says:

    In order to get a good financial aid , what are the different parameters ? Which is more important : a good GRE+TOEFL score or a good academic record ? Do , mention if something else required .
    Thank you !

    • Revathi Reddy says:

      Hi Ritesh!

      Pls check out the answer for your query:

      These are the important factors to consider before applying for a financial aid:

      A proven academic record as well as a good academic percentage or bachelor’s degree percentages are required.
      A very good score in GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS etc.
      Leadership skills and volunteering in social events and organizations.
      Achievements, paper publications, recognitions like winning a certificate in Essay writing competitions etc.
      A scholarship essay is the most important part to earn a scholarship.
      Recommendation letters from professors or any one else
      Most importantly, presenting your strengths also play a vital role to win a scholarshipm reward.

  • hello sir
    i wud like to ask about:
    can one get full scholarshp like tution, boead lodge? if yes den please put some light onto how do we try n get, dats wat i guess every1 is tryin to ask.
    waiting fr ur repl please do rep.

  • venkatesh says:

    Sir, This is venkatesh. I’m a student from NIPER.(National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research) right now i’m pursuing MS in Pharmacology. I’m intrested in doing PhD in US. I would like to know what is the basic tuition fee universities charge for PhD scholar. I came to know that for Phd generally tuition fee is waivered, is it true? and also for getting Phd what is the appreciable GRE and TOEFL scores to get PhD in my fields of interest like Pharmacology cancer biology & molecular biology.

    • Revathi Reddy says:

      The basic tuition fee universities charge for PhD scholar is $10,000 per year for a state university and $40,000 per year for an esteemed private university. Yes! Tuition fee is waived for the best students who are excellent in terms of academics. Besides different funding opportunities for teaching assistantships, fellowships etc are available for Phd students, Yes both GRE revised general test score as well as TOEFL or IELTS scores are required to enrol in the US university as a Phd student.

  • Varsha says:

    I m a final year BE student under VTU university..I wish to pursue my M.S in computer Science..I can afford only upto 5 lakh!!I need scholarship for my tuitons and boarding over der..I m planning to take GRE at the end of my graduation..What earns me fellowship???i need a complete financial aid ..Pls tell me in detail..

    • Revathi Reddy says:

      Remember, there are plethora of scholarships available online and everything has its own requirements. Try to meet specific requirements for a particular scholarship that you are going to apply for.

      Important factors to obtain a scholarship

      A proven academic record as well as a good academic percentage or bachelor’s degree percentages are required.
      A very good GRE and GMAT scores
      Leadership skills and volunteering in social events and organizations.
      Achievements, paper publications, recognitions like winning a certificate in Essay writing competitions etc.
      A scholarship essay is the most important part to earn a scholarship.
      Recommendation letters from professors or any one else
      Most importantly, presenting your strengths also play a vital role to win a scholarshipm reward.

  • gshankar18 says:

    I got an admit recently from University of North Carolina, Charlotte. It was mentioned in the offer letter that if I am seeking Financial Aid, I should contact the Graduate Advisor assigned to me.
    I read the article about how to get financial aid but that describes
    the scenario once you reach and start your education at the university
    which is not the case with me. How should I contact the professor in
    this situation?

  • Oluwasimidele Olamide says:

    I am a about to gain admission to study Physician Assistant Studies in one of the schools in USA. How can apply for fellowship and also for a student loan?

    • Revathi Reddy says:


      First I would like to answer how to apply for a fellowship to study in US universities:

      1. Start your research about scholarships as early as possible because you need spend time requesting application form, filling complete details before deadline etc.
      2. Find out most appropriate scholarship suited to your university needs and spend time working on your application.
      3. Be organized and keep your scholarship material in a separate folder. It also helps you to keep a track on different deadlines for each scholarship you are applying for.
      4. Make sure to include all required information that the selection panel has requested for you in your application form.
      5. A scholarship application is similar to job interview. Avoid spelling mistakes, illegal writing and make sure to proof read the application form before sending.
      6. Provide correct information as well as provide references too.
      7. Remember to apply for a scholarship before deadline.

      Note: In scholarship application form, don’t forget to include: academic record, proof of financial circumstances, and confirmation of your study plans.

      Your second question: How to apply for a student loan?

      1. Choose a student loan that meets your needs.
      2. Collect the following information to apply for a student loan:
      • School information including school name, major, grade, and school term.
      • Social security numbers
      • Telephone numbers.
      • Current addresses of your home as well as your school
      • Gross income information
      • Residence information
      • Requested loan amount
      3. Complete the application form online and electronically sign the documents as well as sign customer credit information
      4. Watch for final disclosure sent through U.S. mail and
      5. Finally funds will be distributed to your school.

  • feven says:

    hi I have offer admissions as seeking my second undergraduate degree and I will have soon interview I have already check the frequently asked questions but could you tell me what I need to full fill in order to pass my visa interview thank you sir!

  • Palaha Joshi says:


    I am starting on my application process.
    Could you guide me on how to make my research effective as I have little time left.
    How to research for the most likely universities where I can get admissions and how to know if they provide scholarships.

    I am interested in mathematics field. I have fairly good profile in terms of academics, GRE and TOEFL score.

    • Raghuram Sukumar says:

      Hye – Refer to the blog posts to learn about university selection. I can help shortlist Engineering schools at top o my head, but for Maths, I can consult for overall school strength. In general, you should get financial aid for most Masters Program in Math.

  • aditya says:

    Your Comment *
    sir i have completed my high school from a military institution in the month of november,2015.because its a different board altogether it dont give good percentage of marks.my sat scores are waiting and i have appeared for ielts.my financial condition is not very supportive do i have to totally rely upon the scholarship.also the fall 2016 deadlines are over by now.so will it be better for me to take a drop and wait for fall 2017 or to apply for this summer 2016.
    please help….

  • aditya says:

    Sir my board is rimc board affiliated to director general of military training

    • Raghuram Sukumar says:

      You still have time to apply for B.S.

    • Tiotsop Kamou olivier says:

      hello i am and undergraduate who is looking for scholarships and i found one one already but the problem is the money i do not know if you can have one for me.I will write the A level next year.

  • Swakshendra Jha says:

    Well,I have completed my high school with 62% aggregate.I have done TOEFL and the new SAT.I have scored 83 in TOEFL and 1170 in the new sat.I want to apply for jan session.how can I get full scholarship because that is the only way i can complete my education.Can you give me some suggestions?

  • Archita says:

    I am in 3rd year of BSc (Honours) in anthropology from Panjab University Chandigarh. And i want to do MSc in something like forensic sciences or some other like cyber crimes or criminology sciences from USA . Stanford and Harvard Uniz are my dreams. Can i get addmsn over there for my Ms? What eligibilities are there required to get admitted there?? Then placements afterwards? I really want to do something big and historical.. Can uh please just lemme know answers of all these..
    And yes, last questn, those streams mentioned above , are they really worth it studying there? And what are the best countries for those fields’ scope?
    Waiting for ur rply.. Thank You 🙂

  • Makhan Singh says:

    my daughter get 83% in matric cbse,76% in +2 cbse ,in be teck IT 78% from lovely professional university Jalandhar in 2012, Post graduate in banking finance 2014 Manipal university Banglaur CGPA 8.16 & now on job in ICICI bank as vice Manager in Bombay.she wants MBA in abroad. is she eligible for scholarshil. when intake & what is the cost of package for USA.

  • Ayesha Fatima says:

    I’am an under graduate student now, I wrote my IELTS test and I got 5.5 band, I saw the list of universities accepting my score so can I get the scholarship or graduate assistant ship with such score. Actually my academic scores are pretty good, I have maintained GPA of 4.0 in engineering and my 10th percentage was 93% and intermediate was 92%.
    Can anyone help me with the selection of the universities please.
    Universities – IELTS Score 5.5
    University of Missouri (TOEFL 61)
    Ohio University2 (TOEFL 61) Conditional Admission
    North Dakota State University (TOEFL 71/525)
    The University of Texas-Pan American (TOEFL 61; Paper 500)
    Central Michigan University (Conditional admission – TOEFL iBT 61 to 78; PBT 500 to 549)
    The University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Southern New Hampshire University (TOEFL iBT 71; PBT 530)
    New Mexico State University1 (197 CBT; 71 iBT; 530 PBT)
    Kent State University (TOEFL score 525, 197, or 71; MELAB – 77 or IELTS score of 5.5)
    Murray State University
    Washington State University2
    Oklahoma City University

    • Fahmina Atiya says:


      I don’t know if you are still looking for help in this matter. I’d advise you to contact all universities you have listed above through email and they are usually very prompt in giving an answer right away. I hope this helps!

  • Kona Ramasita says:

    I am studying Btech final year and I am about to complete my degree in two months. I want to join MS for fall semester.My GRE and IELTS scores are 297 and band6. So,please let me knowthe best university
    For my scores in Pennsylvania state that provides the financial assistance.

  • Udayakumar says:

    Hi hsb,
    i have a question, please help me. i have finished master of mechanical(manufacturing) engineering in anna university Tamilnadu (india). my CGPA is 8.24 and in my UG 8.1 & 88% in my +2 & 92% in my 10th…but i dnt have a TOEFL scr..
    I wish to do my phd in US with full stipend. I dnt knw how to approach & other details … pls help me… im waiting fr ur valuable reply.
    Thank you😊

  • Ujjwal says:

    I completed my B.Tech from NIT-Allahabad in 2013. Now, I’m doing job in USA MNC with 10 LPA pkg. I have total 4 years of IT experience with it. Now, I want to pursue MS and MBA from USA. Due to financial reason as I’m lower middle class guy, I don’t wanna quit my job.
    How to Move to USA?
    How to take admission in USA university for MS and MBA without quitting job their?