Gilman Scholarship Guide: Navigating Your Way to Study Abroad Funding

The Gilman Scholarship, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State, stands as a testament to the commitment of widening access to international study and intern opportunities for American undergraduates from diverse backgrounds. Named after Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman, the program aims to support students of limited financial means with a scholarship that enhances their educational experience. With a focus on equipping recipients with important global skills and preparing students to enter the workforce, the program supports U.S. foreign relations and economic competitiveness.


Understanding the eligibility criteria and application guidelines is crucial for prospective applicants to the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. It is designed for those displaying academic promise and demonstrates the U.S. Department of State’s investment in the future leaders of America. The scholarship provides a path for students receiving federal Pell Grant funding to participate in study and intern abroad programs worldwide. Successful applicants gain not only academic insights but also intercultural skills that contribute significantly to their professional life post-graduation.

Key Takeaways

  • The Gilman Scholarship fosters international educational experiences for Pell Grant recipients.
  • A clear understanding of the application process maximizes the chances of receiving an award.
  • Recipients develop critical skills contributing to both personal growth and national interests.

Eligibility Criteria


Before applying for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, it is essential for candidates to understand the specific eligibility requirements they must meet. These criteria are designed to ensure that students with limited financial means who wish to study or intern abroad have the opportunity to do so.

U.S. Citizenship Requirements

Applicants must be U.S. citizens. Being a citizen of the United States is a stringent requirement for the Gilman Scholarship, reflecting its emphasis on providing opportunities for American undergraduates to engage in international learning experiences.

Educational Background

Eligible candidates are those who are undergraduate students in good standing at an accredited institution of higher education within the United States. This includes both two-year and four-year institutions, emphasizing a commitment to educational inclusivity across various higher education platforms.

Financial Eligibility

Financial eligibility is determined by an applicant’s status as a Federal Pell Grant recipient. Federal Pell Grants are awarded to undergraduates with limited financial means to help them pay for college. For the Gilman Scholarship, being a Federal Pell Grant recipient signals the financial need and opens the door to potential funding assistance for studying or interning abroad.

Application Guidelines

Navigating the Gilman Scholarship application requires attention to detail and adherence to specific requirements. This section provides an orderly approach to ensure a smooth application process.

Application Timeline

The Gilman Scholarship has distinct deadlines throughout the academic year. For the Fall 2023 cycle, the student application must be submitted by the stipulated student deadline. It is imperative that applicants verify the exact dates as they are subject to change. After application submission, the Study Abroad and Financial Aid Advisors have a separate advisor deadline for certification.

Submission Process

Applicants must complete the application online by the student deadline. The submission process includes several steps, starting with creating an account on the scholarship portal. Once logged in, applicants will complete the application form, which entails inputting personal information, educational background, and study abroad program details. Applicants should adhere to the outlined submission tips to enhance the chance of a successful application.

Required Documents

The Gilman Scholarship application necessitates several required documents:

  • An official transcript from the current institution.
  • Critical need language award essays, if applicable.

Applicants should check their application status regularly after submission to ensure all documents are received and to verify if any additional information is required. Completing and checking the application meticulously is essential.

Study Abroad Programs

The Gilman Scholarship Program facilitates study abroad experiences for U.S. undergraduate students, aiming to diversify the students who study and intern abroad.

Selecting a Program

When selecting a study abroad program, students should consider the destination, the academic content, and the alignment with their educational and career goals. Programs can range from a few weeks to a full academic term such as fall or spring semester. Students are encouraged to review opportunities that allow for a deeper cultural immersion and enhance their global competencies.

Program Eligibility

Eligibility for the Gilman Scholarship is specific; applicants must be U.S. citizen undergraduate students receiving a Federal Pell Grant at the time of application or during the term of their study abroad or internship program. Eligibility also extends to students participating in study abroad programs that earn them academic credit towards their degree.

Critical Language Programs

The Gilman Scholarship Program gives preference to students studying critical need languages—languages which are important to national security and economic prosperity. The Gilman Scholarship Program offers enhanced awards for students studying these languages. Some of these programs run during the summer term and may align with the U.S. government’s initiatives to expand the number of Americans learning, speaking, and teaching critical foreign languages.

Financial Information


The Gilman Scholarship Program provides substantial financial support for U.S. citizen undergraduates seeking to study or intern abroad. Eligible students can receive up to $5,000, with additional funding available for those qualifying under the Gilman-McCain Scholarship or receiving Title IV Federal Financial Aid.

Scholarship Amounts

The base amount for a Gilman Scholarship can be as much as $5,000 depending on the applicant’s financial need. This award aims to cover a portion of the study abroad costs and is directly correlated with the student’s financial aid eligibility under Title IV Federal Financial Aid. Every academic year, numerous scholarships are awarded with the goal of broadening international learning opportunities.

  • Base Award: Up to $5,000 per student
  • Eligibility: Must be receiving Title IV Federal Financial Aid

Additional Funding Opportunities

Students with higher financial needs who are also receiving the federal Pell Grant may be eligible for a Supplemental Award to further support their studies abroad. Moreover, the Gilman-McCain Scholarship provides additional funds for child dependents of active duty military personnel. Qualified Gilman-McCain recipients could receive a combined total of up to $8,000 when combined with the base Gilman award.

  • Supplemental Award: Potential for a higher award amount for Pell-eligible students
  • Gilman-McCain Scholarship: Additional funds for students who are child dependents of active duty military personnel; up to $3,000 that can be combined with the base award for a maximum of $8,000

The Gilman Program also encourages students to seek out grants and other sources of funding offered by their institutions or external organizations, as these can be used in tandem with the Gilman Scholarship. The program, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, allows recipients to apply their awards to credit-bearing study abroad programs, reducing the financial barriers that might prevent participation in international experiences.

Advisor and Institutional Support

Advisors and institutions play a pivotal role in the administration and success of the Gilman Scholarship. They provide essential guidance and endorse candidates throughout the application process.

Role of Study Abroad Advisors

Study Abroad Advisors are essential in guiding students through the Gilman Scholarship application process. They facilitate information sessions and provide resources to help students understand eligibility requirements, application timelines, and essay preparations. Advisors from an accredited institution of higher education assist applicants in developing a strong proposal, underscoring their role as a crucial support system.

Institutional Endorsement

The Institutional Endorsement is a component of the Gilman Scholarship where institutions affirm their confidence in a student’s candidacy. This endorsement, provided by a Study Abroad Advisor or a Gilman Advisor, is an attestation of the student’s preparedness and suitability for an international experience, affirming the candidate’s choice of program and justifying how it fits their academic and career goals.

Travel and Safety


When participating in the Gilman Scholarship, understanding travel advisories and exhibiting responsible international conduct are paramount to a student’s safety and success abroad. Adherence to these guidelines can positively impact a scholar’s experience in different world regions.

Travel Advisory Guidelines

The Gilman Scholarship program stipulates that scholars must consult the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisory System before and during their time abroad. This system provides valuable information on the safety and security of various countries and regions, with advisories ranging from Level 1 (Exercise Normal Precautions) to Level 4 (Do Not Travel). A travel destination’s advisory level may change, thus it’s crucial for scholars to stay informed of the latest updates.

  • Level 1 & 2: Generally considered safe for travel, with standard precautions or increased caution advised.
  • Level 3: Requires reevaluation of travel plans, as it suggests avoiding travel due to serious risks.
  • Level 4: Travel to these locations is not permitted under the Gilman Scholarship due to the likelihood of life-threatening risks.

Scholars are not allowed to travel to areas within a generally safe country that have been designated as Level 3 or 4.

Responsible International Conduct

Scholars representing the Gilman Program must act responsibly and respect the host country’s laws and customs. They have the responsibility to:

  • Maintain Awareness: Scholars should stay aware of local events and monitor news that could affect their safety.
  • Obey Laws: Scholars must adhere to the host country’s legal framework, avoiding activities that could lead to legal trouble.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Understanding and respecting cultural norms and practices is crucial to foster mutual respect and avoid misunderstandings.

Following these conduct guidelines assists in maintaining the program’s integrity and ensures a constructive experience for the scholar and the host community.

Post-Award Requirements


Once a student is a recipient of the Gilman Scholarship, they must fulfill specific post-award requirements to complete the program successfully. These requirements are designed to maximize the scholarship’s impact and ensure that the students give back to the community.

Service Project Expectations

Follow-on Service Project: Recipients are required to carry out a Follow-on Service Project that promotes international education and the Gilman Program. The project, which must be completed within six months of return to the United States, should aim to increase awareness about study abroad opportunities among peers. Recipients must submit a proposal outlining their project as part of their application and, upon return, submit a Community Impact Essay detailing their project’s impact.

  • Project Proposal: Includes goals, methods, and a timeline.
  • Community Impact Essay: Demonstrates the project’s influence and outcomes.

Alumni Network and Opportunities

Gilman Alumni Network: Scholarship recipients become part of an active and engaged alumni network. Membership in this network provides access to various resources, including professional development opportunities, events, and potentially collaborations with fellow alumni. Recipients are encouraged to remain in contact with the Gilman Program and take advantage of these opportunities to enhance their careers and personal growth.

  • Professional Growth: Networking events, webinars, and career resources.
  • Collaboration: Potential to work with other Gilman Scholars on projects or initiatives.

Special Initiatives and Awards


The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program features commendable initiatives aimed at broadening the student demographic with access to international experiences. Notable among these are the Gilman-McCain Scholarship for children of active military personnel and the Critical Need Language Award for students pursuing the study of languages deemed crucial for national security.

Gilman-McCain Scholarship

The Gilman-McCain Scholarship is a special initiative under the Gilman Scholarships that supports the educational ambitions of students who are dependents of active or activated United States military personnel. These awards are tailored to assist undergraduate children of active duty service members to study or intern abroad, with a particular focus on those who may not have considered international education as a plausible option due to financial constraints.

Critical Need Language Award

Students who show an interest and aptitude for languages that are less commonly taught and critical to national security can apply for the Critical Need Language Award. This prestigious award is an augmentation to the Gilman Scholarships, offering a substantial financial increment, sometimes up to an additional $3,000, to scholars who decide to hone their language skills in regions critical to U.S. interests.

Contact and Support


For applicants and advisors seeking assistance, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program offers multiple channels of support and contact avenues.

General Inquiries:

  • They can refer to the Contact Us page for various contact methods including direct email and telephone options.

Advising Support:

  • Advisors play a crucial role in the application process. The program supports collaboration between applicants and their advisors to enhance the application’s success.
RoleSupport OfferedMethod of Contact
ApplicantsApplication assistance, essay feedbackStudy abroad office
AdvisorsResource provision, application reviewAdvisor’s Guide

Application Submission Tips:

  • Detailed guidance for crafting a competitive application is provided. It includes tips on essay writing, and they encourage reviewing these submission tips before submitting an application.

Financial Troubleshooting:

It’s imperative for applicants and their advisors to utilize these resources for any queries or support needed throughout the application process.

Frequently Asked Questions


The Frequently Asked Questions section provides potential applicants with vital information regarding eligibility, application tips, essay requirements, deadlines, selection criteria, and financial aspects of the Gilman Scholarship.

What are the eligibility requirements for the Gilman Scholarship?

The Gilman Scholarship requires applicants to be U.S. citizens enrolled in an undergraduate program at an accredited institution of higher education. They should be receiving a Federal Pell Grant during the time of application or proof that they will be receiving it during the term of their study abroad program or internship.

What tips can increase your chances of receiving the Gilman Scholarship?

Applicants are advised to start preparing their applications early and seek feedback from advisors. It’s important to articulate clear goals, relevance of the chosen program to future career plans, and a strong follow-up community service project. Reviewing submission tips from the Gilman Scholarship official tips page can be very beneficial.

What are the essay requirements for the Gilman Scholarship application?

The application requires two essays: a Statement of Purpose and a Community Impact Essay. The essays must demonstrate the applicant’s motivation for choosing a particular study abroad program and how it will impact their academic and career trajectory. They must also detail how they will give back to their community upon their return.

When is the application deadline for the Gilman Scholarship?

The application deadline varies each year and depends on whether the applicant is applying for the Fall, Spring or Summer cycle. It is crucial to check the official Gilman Scholarship deadlines to ensure timely submission.

How competitive is the Gilman Scholarship and what factors influence selection?

The Gilman Scholarship is highly competitive, with selection based on academic merit, diversity, and the applicant’s financial need. Preference is given to those who represent high financial need, choose a non-traditional study abroad destination, plan to study a critical need language, and who have historically been underrepresented in education abroad.

What is the maximum financial award provided by the Gilman Scholarship?

The maximum award for the Gilman Scholarship is $5,000, but students studying critical need languages can receive up to an additional $3,000. Details about the financial awards can be found on the Gilman Scholarship financial information page.

Helpful Resources

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