The cost of study is one of the most important considerations for prospective scholars. At tertiary and post-tertiary levels of learning, it is not uncommon to find that the cost of obtaining a degree can be quite expensive due to several reasons. For students interested in getting degrees outside their home countries, this reality hits even harder due to the big difference in cost expectations for international students when compared with what indigenes/nationals of the country have to pay. Coming to terms with these facts is what pushes most people to search for alternative and supplementary sources of funding.
A scholarship is a financial provision that allows for its beneficiary to study, research and obtain a degree at no cost, or at a lesser cost than would be normally required in its absence. Scholarships come in different forms; tuition waivers/reductions, coverage of living expenses, travel grants, research grants, etc. but the common factor in the different kinds of scholarships is that they are usually specific for the purpose for which they are provided. Some scholarships provide more in terms of value than others, and usually have different levels of eligibility requirements for prospective beneficiaries. Some of these requirements could be proof of financial need, proof of academic excellence, proof of leadership potential, and some could even be awarded exclusively to a particular race or gender group.
Scholarships are usually divided into two broad categories based on their coverage or inclusions — fully funded and partially funded scholarships. It is always very important during the application process to be very certain about what the scholarship will or will not provide for, so as not to maintain unrealistic expectations. The knowledge is also necessary for prospective scholars to plan their finances and determine accurately what scholarship programs they would be applying for. That being said, what is the difference between these two broad scholarship categories?
Fully funded Scholarships.
The goal of this category of scholarships is (in most cases) to remove any financial need that might be encountered by students during the course of study. Knowing this, when applying for fully funded scholarships, it is usually reasonable to expect that the funding body would certainly cover tuition and in certain instances; accommodation, living expenses, travel and relocation costs, medical/health insurance, purchase of books/study materials/academic supplies, some could even cover the cost of relocation of family members of the student.
Research scholarships (especially at PhD level) are usually a typical example of fully funded scholarships with regard to the value and extent of coverage. They usually cover the cost of study, research, living expenses of the research student, accommodation costs, cost of travel and participation in study-related seminars, workshops and conferences, and health insurance among others. Such scholarships are in most cases, renewable annually throughout the duration of study of the recipient; this is however dependent on the academic performance of the recipient and would usually require contribution to the body of knowledge in the field of study of the research student through research productivity; evident through the completion and presentation of a research project.
As opposed to fully-funded scholarships and as the name implies, this category of scholarships only covers some selected parts of the entire study cost. What is covered varies per funding body. Depending on the purpose for which they are provided, they could be scholarships to reduce the amount a scholar would have to pay for tuition (e.g. 50% tuition-reduction scholarships), targeted towards living expenses only, or in some cases a combination of both, thus leaving the prospective scholar to source for alternative/supplementary means of funding the expenses not covered by the scholarship. If a prospective scholar is not sure about where the rest of the funding would come from, and cannot be certain that work and study would be allowed (or even convenient enough) to generate income to augment the scholarship provided, it is generally not advisable to apply at all for partially funded scholarships, as this may pose a problem sometime in the future.
It is always a good idea to gather as much information as possible about potential and available funding sources and options so as to get the best possible offers, and consequently ensure a relatively smooth sail through your studies.