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Scholarships & financial aid

Financing your education can be a difficult task and most financial assistance in the United States is restricted to U.S. citizens or legal residents. However, there are some options available to international students. For more information about national student aid, please visit the university's Office of Student Financial Aid website.

Terms to Know

  • 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 ability.

ISSS Financial Assistance

ISSS has limited funding available to assist international students who currently attend the university 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 call or email ISSS so we can best assist you regarding your case. An ISSS advisor will contact you regarding your case within a week. Please also review the Food and Financial Assistance Handout for additional information and resources.

Available to undergraduate students experiencing unexpected and moderate financial hardship who hold authorized employment and are working hard to succeed in school. This is a competitive process with a select number of awardees who receive a $1,000 Wu Scholarship. Applications for this award are sent out on March 1, 2021.

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. This fund is not intended to assist with tuition costs or other academic-related expenses. To apply, please make an appointment to speak with an ISSS advisor.

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 Assistance cases are those students whose financial situations will be resolved in the near future. Applications for this award are sent out at the start of Fall and Spring semesters.

Established in honor of scholar Yingying Zhang, this fund will provide short-term support to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign international students, scholars, and their families in moments of crisis and during times of unique hardship. The fund is not intended to be used for tuition, living expenses, or ongoing financial assistance. Applicants for this fund will have their circumstances reviewed by a campus committee and should apply by contacting either ISSS ( or the Dean of Students (


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. Application information can be found on the Organization of American States website.

Scholarships & Awards

The Nelle M. Signor Graduate Scholarships in International Relations are awarded to outstanding 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. Applicants must be University of Illinois 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.

The application may be found on the Illinois International website.

The 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 Fred S. Bailey Scholarship awards over $100,000 in financial aid to 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 University YMCA website for more information on the University YMCA's Fred S. Bailey Scholarship.

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