scholarships and financial aid

Financing your education in the United States can be a very difficult task. Applications, tuition, fees and living expenses can total up to $75,000, and the process can be very confusing.

Unfortunately, most financial assistance in the United States is restricted to United States citizens or legal residents, but there are options available to international students. For more information about national student aid, please visit the University's Office of Student Financial Aid page.

In order to understand financial assistance, it’s important to understand a few terms:

Loan: A loan offered to students which is used to pay off education-related expenses, such as college tuition, room and board at the university, or textbooks. Many of these loans are offered to students at a lower interest rate. In general, students are not required to pay back these loans until the end of a grace period, which usually begins after they have completed their education.

Grant: Unlike loans, grants-which can come from the state or federal government, from the college itself, or from private sources-provide money for college that doesn't have to be paid back.

Scholarship: People often confuse the terms “scholarship” and “grant.” The difference between these two forms of aid is most scholarships are merit based. This means that they are awarded to students with certain qualities, such as proven academic or athletic ability.

ISSS Financial Assistance
Loans Information
Scholarships and Awards

ISSS Financial Assistance

ISSS has limited funding available to assist international students who currently attend the University of Illinois and are experiencing unexpected short-term or emergency financial hardship. The method of payment and processing time will vary depending on the type of funding. ISSS Financial Assistance has very specific eligibility requirements, and therefore ISSS advisors must assess each case individually. If you have a situation that you think might qualify for financial assistance, please contact ISSS and an ISSS advisor will contact you regarding your case within a week.

Horace and Kate King Wu International UG Scholarship

Eligibility: Available to undergraduate students holding some type of on-campus employment and working hard to keep up with school. Students awarded a Wu Scholarship are expected to write the Wu’s a personal thank you card after notification of award.

Apply: Applications for this award are sent out at the start of Spring semester.


Dean Arthur Hamilton International Assistance Fund 

Eligibility: Available to both undergraduate and graduate students experiencing some sort of unexpected expense, whether it be travel, medical, or accidental.  Documentation of bills may be required.  Students are identified in one-on-one appointments.  Money will be applied to the student’s account upon ISSS approval. NOTE: This fund is not intended to assist with tuition costs.

To apply, please make an appointment to speak with an ISSS advisor.

Undergraduate Tuition Waiver Awards

Eligibility: Available to undergraduate students in their second year or above who are experiencing sudden, unexpected financial need. This is a one-time award for students with preference given to those closer to completing their studies. Generally, recipients of Tuition Waivers cases are those students whose financial situations will be resolved in the near future.

Apply: Applications for the award are sent out at the start of the Fall and Spring semesters.


Leo S. Rowe Pan American Fund

The Rowe Fund was endowed through a bequest from Dr. Leo Stanton Rowe, who served as Director General of the Pan American Union (the precursor of the OAS), from 1920 until his death in 1946.  Dr. Rowe devoted his life to furthering understanding and integration among the countries of the Americas, particularly through higher education.
Follow this external link to loans for persons from Latin America and Caribbean countries and members of the Organization of American States.


Scholarships and Awards

ISSS Scholarship Fund

Eligibility: Limited funding for undergraduate and graduate students experiencing a financial need. NOTE: This fund is not intended to assist with tuition costs.
Apply: Students identified in appointments with advisors.

Nelle M. Signor Graduate Scholarship in International Relations

The Nelle M. Signor Graduate Scholarships in International Relations are awarded to outstanding University of Illinois doctoral students conducting dissertation research abroad. Preference is given to students studying international relations, although students of all disciplines are encouraged to apply, provided that their research includes an international dimension. These $2,000 scholarships enable doctoral students to conduct field research outside of the U.S. Funds are administered to the recipient's student account through the Office of Financial Aid and may be used for travel and other research-related expenses. The scholarships are funded through a generous gift from the late Nelle M. Signor.
Eligibility: Applicants must be University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign doctoral students in fields involving international relations who have completed coursework and preliminary exams by the proposed travel date.  Due to the wishes of the donor, preference will be given to unmarried applicants.  Married applicants may still apply, however, as both married and unmarried applicants have been awarded in previous application cycles.

For more information, visit or contact Samantha Celmer at

Maria Pia Gratton International Award

This award is intended to enable a female international graduate student to have an academic and cultural experience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Illinois). Preference will be given to a student who has had a limited opportunity to travel outside of her home country. The Gratton Award provides a tuition waiver and a monthly stipend totaling $12,000 for the academic year.

Eligibility: Applicants must be female international students currently enrolled as graduate students at Illinois with at least one academic year (i.e., two semesters) of graduate school remaining OR if not currently enrolled as graduate students at Illinois, applicants must be applying to begin graduate study at Illinois in the upcoming Fall semester (Note: Applicants who have not yet been admitted to Illinois must follow regular academic admission procedures).

Applications will be accepted for the Maria Pia Gratton International Award from November 1st until February 15th of each year. Apply by filling out this questionnaire and uploading one letter of reference via the link provided in the questionnaire:

Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund

The Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund (MMMF) awards grants to women from developing and middle-income countries to further their education and strengthen the professional and leadership skills they need to improve the lives of women and children. For more details, please follow the external link.

Avery Brundage Scholarship

The UIUC Avery Brundage Scholarship is designed for students who demonstrate excellence both in academic pursuits and in amateur athletic endeavors. Financial need is not a factor. Full-time graduate students in good standing with a "special athletic ability" in an amateur sport are eligible. Previous winners have represented a wide variety of sports from archery and tennis to swimming and wheelchair basketball.

The application packet is available in hard copy at the Office of Student Financial Aid, 620 East John Street, Champaign.

University YMCA Fred S. Bailey Scholarship for Community Leadership, Service, and Activism

The Fred S. Bailey Scholarship awards over $100,000 in financial aid to University of Illinois students who demonstrate a deep commitment to service and action. The Bailey Scholarship is a program of the University YMCA. The scholarship is open to incoming international freshman, sophomores and juniors.

Please visit the external link for more information on the University YMCA's Fred S. Bailey Scholarship.



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