Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I’d like to intern abroad. How do I know if it’s an eligible program for the Gilman Scholarship?
A. All education abroad programs must meet the Gilman Program’s eligibility criteria. Most important in selecting an international internship program, is to make sure it is a credit-bearing, career-oriented internship. Work with your Study Abroad/International Program’s office and your Career Services office on campus to assist you with identifying the best internship for your professional aspirations.
Q. What if I don’t receive a Federal Pell Grant, but do receive other federal financial aid? Am I still eligible to apply?
A. No, only students receiving a Federal Pell Grant at the time of application or at the time of the study abroad program are eligible for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Other forms of federal financial aid do not satisfy this eligibility requirement. If you are not sure if you receive a Federal Pell Grant, please contact your university’s financial aid office.
For information on other study abroad scholarships and grants for which you might be eligible, consult Other Study Abroad Resources.
Q. What programs or countries are acceptable for the application currently open (student application due date of October 5, 2021)?
A. Please note the following updates to our current program eligibility, below in bold italics. To be eligible for a Gilman Scholarship, an applicant must be:
- A citizen of the United States;
- An undergraduate student in good standing at an accredited institution of higher education in the United States (including both two-year and four-year institutions);
- Receiving a Federal Pell Grant during the time of application or provide proof that they will be receiving a Pell Grant during the term of their study abroad program or internship;
- In the process of applying to, or accepted to, a credit-bearing study abroad or internship program, or a virtual international program. Proof of program acceptance is required prior to award disbursement;
- Applying for credit-bearing study abroad programs in a country or area with an overall Travel Advisory Level 1 or 2, according to the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisory System. However, certain locations within these countries or areas may be designated within the Travel Advisory as either “Do not travel to” (Level 4) or “Reconsider travel to” (Level 3) locations, as such; students will not be allowed to travel to these specific locations. Moreover, students are not eligible to apply for programs in a country or area with an overall Level 3 or 4 Travel Advisory.
Please note that if the country where you choose to study abroad in 2021 is at a Level 3 or 4 only due to COVID-19 at the time of application, the Gilman program will still consider that eligible. In the event that an applicant is selected for the Gilman Scholarship and if the destination country is still at a Level 3 or 4, even if only due to COVID-19, by the time the program starts, then the recipient will be required to change their program location.
The U.S. Department of State reserves the right to request program changes for specific countries or areas if deemed necessary during any stage of the application, selection process, or program period. Final awards are contingent upon the availability of funds and the security situation in country. Furthermore, programs in progress may be suspended in consultation with the U.S. Embassy in country during the course of the program.
The modification to the travel advisory-related eligibility criteria is a system update that has been incorporated into both the student application and advisor certification portals, in light of COVID-19.
For reference, below is a sample travel advisory that shows when a country’s level is based on COVID-19 conditions:
Reconsider travel to Country X due to COVID-19.
Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Country X due to COVID-19.
Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Country X.
If you decide to travel to Country X:
- See the U.S. Embassy’s web page regarding COVID-19.
- Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program(STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review the Crime and Safety Report for Country X.
- Have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.
Q. I have never traveled or studied abroad before. Should I apply?
A. Yes! A principal objective of the Gilman Scholarship Program is to expand international education opportunities by encouraging applications from students who have not previously studied abroad for undergraduate academic credit.
Q. I am a community college or two-year institution student. Is this program for me?
A. Yes! Community college students, both two-year and transfer, are particularly encouraged to apply.
Q. I am a Permanent Resident or non-U.S. citizen, am I still eligible to apply?
A. No, only U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals are eligible to apply for a Gilman Scholarship. If you are in the process of applying for your citizenship, and you will be a United States citizen before your study abroad program begins, then you may apply for the Gilman Scholarship. You will be prompted within the online application to enter your naturalization date. Here you will enter the future date that you estimate to be naturalized. However, please note that although your application will be reviewed, and in the event you are awarded, you will not be able to receive your Gilman Scholarship funds if you cannot provide proof that you are a United States citizen. This proof must be either a copy of your naturalization certificate or a copy of your passport.
Q. I am a high school, graduate, or post-graduate student, can I apply?
A. No, only U.S. citizens currently enrolled as undergraduate students at a U.S. institution of higher education are eligible for the Gilman Scholarship.
For information on other study abroad scholarships and grants for which you might be eligible, consult Other Study Abroad Resources.
Q. I am not participating in a study abroad program; instead I am applying for a full-degree program overseas whereby I will receive my degree directly from an international institution. Am I eligible to apply?
A. No, only U.S. citizens currently enrolled as undergraduate students at a U.S. institution of higher education and participating in a study abroad program of up to one academic year are eligible for the Gilman Scholarship. The Gilman Scholarship Program does not fund full-degree study overseas.
One avenue you should explore is to see if the institution you wish to attend abroad is eligible to receive federal financial aid. There are a number of institutions abroad that are eligible to receive U.S. financial aid and you can search for these online at the FAFSA website. Once there, you will need to choose the Find My School Codes option and do a school code search. Within the search screen select Foreign Country as the school state. A list of institutions abroad that are eligible to receive federal financial aid will then pop up. If your school is listed you would use their designated school code to apply for financial aid just as you would if you were attending a U.S. institution.
You should also contact the university abroad directly to find out if they offer any financial aid or scholarships for incoming international students. Some countries will also allow student visa holders to work on a part-time basis, which might also help fund your degree overseas. The international student office at your university abroad should be able to assist you in learning about the relevant regulations for students studying in your host country.
Q. WHAT IS THE MINIMUM LENGTH OF STUDY REQUIRED TO BE ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR THE GILMAN SCHOLARSHIP? ARE SHORT-TERM PROGRAMS ELIGIBLE?
A. The Gilman Scholarship program does not have a minimum program length requirement, so short-term programs are eligible. However, the program must otherwise meet the eligibility requirements, including being credit-bearing.
Q. I’m applying to a multi-country program. Is this eligible for a Gilman Scholarship?
A. Multi-country/area programs are eligible and have no minimum requirement on length of time spent in one country and no maximum requirement on number of countries in a program
Q. Does the Gilman Scholarship Program approve or sanction particular study abroad programs or program provider?
A. No, there are no lists of Gilman-preferred programs nor does the Gilman Scholarship Program endorse a particular institution, organization or group’s sponsorship. A Gilman Scholarship is a source of portable financial assistance that can be used to support any credit-bearing study abroad program or internship. The choice of a particular program for study abroad should be made in consultation with your campus advisor. Programs must be credit-bearing and can include any of the following options or combination of: traditional study abroad, intensive language, internship, student-teaching, and service-learning. It is best to choose your program based on its overall quality and select the program that best meets your academic, career and personal goals.
If you would like to search for study abroad programs online, the Institute of International Education maintains a free searchable study abroad program database called IIE Passport. This site will allow you to search for programs by country, field of study and language of study.
Q. Are previous recipients of the Gilman Scholarship eligible to re-apply?
A. A Gilman Scholarship recipient can only receive the Gilman Scholarship once. If you previously declined the Gilman Scholarship, you are welcome to re-apply for another application cycle, as long as you still meet all eligibility requirements. For other study abroad scholarship opportunities, visit the Other Study Abroad Resources section.
Q. Am i eligible for gilman if my abroad program occurs during the term in between my transfer from my community college to a 4-year institution?
A. Yes. Transfer students may apply for Gilman if they are participating during the term between their community college graduation and their enrollment in the 4-year institution.
Q. When should I apply?
A. Please consult the Deadlines & Timeline page for more information on when to apply.
Q. How do I apply?
A. The Gilman Scholarship Program has an online application. The online application will be available approximately one-and-a-half to two months prior to the application deadline for each cycle. Please consult the Deadlines & Timeline page for more information.
Q. What should I do if my email address, phone number or mailing address changes?
A. If your contact information changes, please be sure to log into the online application and update your Account Information. Communication will be primarily conducted via email so it is important to ensure that a current, working email address is on file at all times. The Gilman Scholarship Program is not responsible for incorrect email addresses or contact information.
Q. How do I know who administers my study abroad program?
A. The administrator is the institution or organization that is administering your study abroad program. The online application contains a drop down list of the most common program administrators given by Gilman Scholarship applicants. If your program administrator is not listed, then you would select “other” and type the name into the provided field. This will most often be your home university, a different university in the U.S., or a study abroad consortium or other program provider. If you are unsure who the program sponsor is, please contact your university study abroad advisor.
Q. What’s included in the total cost of my program?
Estimated study abroad program costs include all program fees, tuition, room and board, airfare, books, local transportation, and insurance and disability related accommodation expenses. This excludes personal expenses such as entertainment, souvenirs, clothing and accessories, electronics, and travel independent of the study abroad requirements.
Q. I have submitted an application to my chosen study abroad program, but will not receive notification of acceptance until after the application deadline for the Gilman Scholarship Program, can I still apply?
A. Yes, we recognize that many students will submit applications to specific study abroad programs and for the Gilman Scholarship Program simultaneously, with expected notification for each at a different date. Should you be awarded a Gilman Scholarship you would be required to provide proof of acceptance into the program listed in your application at that time.
Q. I am applying to two different study abroad programs, but there’s only room to enter one on the Gilman Scholarship application. What should I do?
A. If you are applying to more than one program for the same term you should enter your top choice on the Gilman Scholarship application. If you are accepted to the program you did not list in your Gilman Scholarship application, please contact the Gilman Program immediately. If you are applying to two separate programs in consecutive terms, you should only indicate the program for the term in which you are applying.
Q. Why do a Study Abroad Advisor and Financial Aid Advisor have to certify my application?
A. A complete Gilman Scholarship application consists of 1) online student application, 2) uploaded transcript(s) into application (either official or unofficial), 3) online Study Abroad Advisor certification and 4) online Financial Aid Advisor certification. Study Abroad Advisors will be asked to verify that you are applying to a credit-eligible study abroad program, whether you have previously studied abroad before and confirm your study abroad program information. Financial Aid Advisors will be asked to verify whether you are currently receiving a Federal Pell Grant and the estimated amount of financial aid, excluding loans, you can apply to your program.
Advisors will receive an email immediately after you submit the online application asking them to certify your information. It is very important that you contact your university’s study abroad and financial aid office prior to submitting your application to ensure that your advisors’ information is available to select in your application before the deadline. The Gilman Scholarship Program is not responsible for contacting your advisors to create an account with the online application system.
Your application is not considered complete until all sections are completed by the stated deadlines. It is your responsibility as an applicant to ensure that advisors are aware of and complete their portion of your application by the stated advisor deadlines. Please consult the Deadlines & Timeline for more information. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.
Q. How do I know who the correct Study Abroad or Financial Aid Advisor is?
A. You will need to contact your university study abroad and financial aid offices prior to submitting your application to obtain this information. Indicate that you are applying for a study abroad scholarship and ask who the correct person would be to complete the advisor portion for each office at your university. You should only list advisors at your home university.
Q. My university does not have a study abroad office or designated Study Abroad Advisor. What should I do?
A. In this case you should contact your undergraduate academic advisor at your home university and ask them to register as a certifying advisor with the Gilman Scholarship Program.
Q. My university financial aid office does not assign students an individual Financial Aid Advisor. What should I do?
A. Contact your university financial aid office to find out who the correct advisor would be to complete the financial aid advisor portion for a study abroad scholarship. This need not be an advisor assigned specifically to you. However, it must be an advisor working in the financial aid office at your home institution.
Q. How will I know when my advisors complete their portions of the application?
A. You can view the status of your advisor certifications by logging in to your Gilman application and viewing the ‘Certification Status’ by each of your advisor’s names. Remember, it is your responsibility as an applicant to ensure that advisors are aware of and complete their portions of your application by the stated deadlines. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.
Q. At the time of my Gilman Scholarship application I will be a freshman at my home institution and will not have completed a term yet. What do I indicate as my GPA?
A. If you have not completed a single term at your home institution at the time of your Gilman Scholarship application, then you will indicate your GPA as 0.00. Additionally, if this is your first academic term at your home institution you can upload an Official Enrollment Verification Letter, including your academic courses, issued from your registrar’s office in place of your home institution transcript. In addition, if you are a freshman, you are encouraged to include your high school transcript in your application. Please note that there is not a minimum GPA requirement to apply for the Gilman Scholarship and it will not affect your eligibility.
Q. What is a Critical Need Language award and what do I need to do to be considered for the award?
A. Applicants who are studying a critical need language while abroad in a country in which the language is predominantly spoken have the option to be considered for the Critical Need Language Award. In addition to receiving the highly competitive award of up to $8,000, recipients of the Critical Need Language Award will be offered the opportunity to evaluate and certify their language skills acquired during their program through a recognized oral proficiency language test. To be considered for the Critical Need Language Award, a brief supplemental essay is required and can be submitted in the same Gilman application. More information about the supplemental essay can be found here.
Q. How do I Write my community impact essay before I even go abroad?
A. Keep in mind that the Community Impact Essay is a required part of your Gilman Scholarship application. We know that you haven’t gone abroad yet and you might not know exactly how your experience will impact you; however, you do know that the goal of the project is to encourage others to consider international experiences and apply for the Gilman Scholarship.
Think of different people or groups that would benefit from learning about these opportunities and how you would want to get the word out about study abroad, the Gilman Scholarship and share your experience with them. You can develop the exact content of your project, once it’s time to carry out your project and are able to discuss study abroad and being a Gilman Scholar from firsthand experience. For more Community Impact Essay details, visit the Essays page or view the Follow-on Service Project Overview video.
Q. What if I don’t have any connections at my institution or with other organizations? How can I create them?
A. We recommend starting by thinking about which groups, offices, schools or organizations you are already connected to, such as: an academic department that you’ve taken courses in; a school you’ve previously attended; a student organization you are a part of; an organization you’ve volunteered with; a newspaper you love; study abroad or financial aid advisors you’ve worked with, etc. It’s best to build off of existing connections or interests. If there aren’t any relevant connections that you currently have, we recommend identifying an office, group or organization that you would like to work with to conduct what you outlined in your Community Impact Essay and reaching out to introduce yourself, provide context for what the Gilman Scholarship is, and ask if they would be willing to work with you on carrying out this project should you be selected to receive the Gilman Scholarship. Be sure to approach them with an idea already in mind of what you would like to do and inform them of the proposed timeline.
Q. What are some appropriate audiences to focus on for my Community Impact essay?
A. The goal of the Community Impact Essay is to encourage others to pursue study abroad opportunities and spread the word about the Gilman Scholarship. Your audience should be current undergraduate students, future college students and people that work with these populations. Some audiences to target include students on your campus, local middle or high schools, youth groups, local organizations that work with high school students to prepare them for college, parents, teachers, professors, advisors, etc. Keep in mind that your target audience should not be those who are citizens of your study abroad host country, as they would not be eligible for the Gilman Scholarship.
Q. How much effort does my Community Impact have to take?
A. Your Community Impact Essay should be an intentional rather than passive plan to promote study abroad and the Gilman Scholarship. There is not a specific amount of time and effort that is required to complete your project; however, it should succeed in encouraging relevant audiences to pursue their own international education experiences and spread the word about the Gilman Scholarship. You can view examples of projects to give you ideas.
Q. I’m not good at public speaking. Are there other ways I can fulfill the Community Impact?
A. Not all Follow-on Service Projects have to be in the form of a presentation. Many scholars in the past have done other types of outreach, such as blogging for their university, creating study abroad and Gilman Scholarship resources, working with your school and/or local newspaper to write an article about your experience abroad and the Gilman Scholarship, etc. You can see additional examples of projects on the Gilman Program’s website. If you are looking to improve your public speaking skills, this can be a great opportunity to do that while spreading the word about study abroad and the Gilman Program.
Q. Can I keep a personal blog as my Community Impact?
A. If you choose a personal blog for your Community Impact, you should keep in mind that the goal is to encourage others to study abroad and learn about the Gilman Scholarship. Your Community Impact Essay should include your plans for marketing and sharing your blog so that it reaches a target audience beyond just your close friends and family or general public. Additionally, the content of your blog should be reflective about your experience and informative for those who read it and are considering studying abroad and applying to the Gilman Scholarship. In the past, Gilman Scholars have worked with their host university, study abroad program, and/or travel blog groups (ex: StudyAbroadBlog.com, TheCollegeTourist.com, etc.) to promote their blog. In addition to your personal blog, you could also consider following up in-person with any groups that were following your blog, once you’ve returned to the U.S. Or find other interactive ways to connect to and engage with your audience.
Q. Can I volunteer for my Community Impact?
A. The goal of the Community Impact is encouraging others to pursue their own international experiences and spread the word about the Gilman Scholarship to relevant populations, such as current or future undergraduates and those who work with these groups. If the population you are volunteering with include relevant populations, sharing about study abroad and Gilman would be an acceptable plan. However, volunteering without any promotion of study abroad and Gilman or to a population unconnected to current or future undergraduates, while commendable, is not a viable Community Impact.
Q. Can I conduct or start my Community Impact while I am still abroad?
A. It is possible to conduct or start working on your Community Impact while you are still abroad, but you must keep in mind the goals of the project and the fact that your target audience should be American students or those that work with American students. Some Community Impact plans conducted abroad have included writing and promoting a blog about your experience, writing articles for school or local newspapers from abroad, virtually connecting with relevant audiences in the U.S., or collecting materials, photos or video footage to later complete your project.
Q. I plan to conduct a thesis or research project while abroad. Can this count as my Community Impact?
A. Your research project in and of itself does not constitute a Community Impact plan. However, it can be included as a part of your plans. For example, if you have plans to formally present your thesis findings, part of your Gilman Community Impact plans could be to include information about how study abroad helped you to collect your research findings and how Gilman helped fund your program abroad.
Q. I plan to post pictures and information about my abroad experience on my social media accounts and to tell my friends and family about it when I get home. Does this count as Community Impact?
A. Your Community Impact should be an intentional promotion of international education and the Gilman Scholarship. We ask that you put effort into planning a formal project that will reach a larger audience than just your friends and family, as you will likely already share with these people about your experience abroad.
Q. How detailed does my Community Impact Essay have to be?
A. We encourage you to be as detailed as possible in your essay. Some important details to include are your proposed timeline for your plans, what resources you will use, what contacts or groups you will work with to carry out your plans, the audience you hope to impact, etc. Please keep in mind that your Community Impact should be feasible, as you will have to carry it out within six months of your return to the best of your ability. With that in mind, you may not know every detail about what your plans will involve, but your essay should indicate that you have thought it through and will be ready to move forward with its completion upon you return to the U.S. If you plan to work with a particular group or office to carry out your Community Impact, we do recommend reaching out to them to ensure they are aware of and are willing to be involved in your plans.
Q. Can I change my Community Impact later?
A. You are expected to carry out the plans you proposed in your application as this is the information evaluated for scholarship selection. We understand that sometimes things change and you may realize that you would like to expand on or update your project, or circumstances do not allow you to complete your project as originally proposed. Please keep in mind that you are still required to complete Community Impact and must propose and have your updated plans approved by the Gilman Program.
Q. If I extend my time abroad, will my Community Impact still be due within six months of my original program end date?
A. Your Community Impact will be due within six months of the date you return to the United States. If you choose to extend your time abroad, please log in to the Gilman online system and indicate your expected return date in the “Travel/Extension Forms” page of the Abroad section of the system.
Q. Can I collaborate with other Gilman Scholars on my Community Impact?
A. Collaborating with another Gilman Scholar can be an aspect of your Community Impact, but this collaboration should expand on the scope and impact of your project. Please also keep in mind that there is no guarantee that all potential collaborators will receive the scholarship. If one person is selected, that person would still be responsible for completing the Community Impact proposed in their essay, even if the other person was not selected.
Q. Who funds the Gilman Scholarship?
A. The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education (IIE). The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program is supported through an annual Congressional appropriation.
Q. What is the financial value of a Gilman Scholarship? If I receive a Gilman Scholarship, what may it be used for?
A. Awards of up to $5,000 are made for up to one academic year of undergraduate study abroad. Award amounts will vary based on student’s recommendation group in the selection process, their financial need and length of program. Gilman Scholarship funds may only be used to cover eligible study abroad program costs and related expenses which are included on the document below.Students who apply for and receive the Gilman Scholarship to study abroad are then eligible to receive a Critical Need Language Award from the Gilman Scholarship Program for a total possible award of $8,000 if they are studying a critical need language while abroad. Note that these awards are limited and competitive and not all students who meet these requirements will receive $8,000.
Recipients of the Gilman Scholarship are never contacted by phone or email to provide personal bank information. If selected for a Gilman Scholarship, recipients will utilize the password protected and secure Gilman Recipient Portal to input all fund distribution information.
Q. What are my chances of winning a Gilman Scholarship?
A. The Gilman Scholarship Program is a national, highly competitive scholarship. Approximately 1 in 4 Gilman Scholarship applicants are selected to receive the scholarship. Please see the Selection Criteria and Program Statistics pages for further information.
Q. Is there a health insurance requirement if I receive a Gilman Scholarship?
A. Yes, if you are selected as a scholarship recipient, you must furnish evidence of international insurance coverage, to include health, accident, emergency evacuation and repatriation of remains insurance. More information on the insurance requirement will be provided at a later date to all recipients.
Q. May I participate in an internship or work part-time while on a Gilman Scholarship?
A. The Gilman Scholarship Program is designed to support participation in a full-time study abroad program for undergraduate academic credit, not paid work abroad. However, applications will be considered from students who propose an internship as an integrated and meaningful component of their study abroad program. Also, students studying in countries which allow those on student visas to work part-time may do so as long as they maintain full-time enrollment in their study abroad program and are not in violation of any laws or regulations of their program or host country.
Q. What if I receive a Gilman Scholarship, will that impact my university financial aid package?
A. It may. University financial aid offices have federal, state and institutional guidelines they must follow when awarding financial aid packages. The Gilman Scholarship Program has no control over this process though we do encourage institutions to reduce loan amounts first if the receipt of this award does affect a student’s financial aid package.
Q. When and how will I be notified of the status of my application?
A. All applicants will be notified of their status via the primary email address given in their Gilman online account. Please consult the Deadlines & Timeline for more information regarding the timeline of award notifications.
Q. If i am awarded a gilman scholarship, what happens next?
If you are chosen to receive a Gilman Scholarship, you will need to do the following things to accept your award:
- Agree to the Gilman Scholarship’s Terms and Conditions Contract
- Provide proof of your U.S. Citizenship
- Provide an acceptance letter from your study abroad program or host institution in English. Please note that the Gilman Program will not accept nomination or conditional letters as proof of acceptance.
- Provide proof of international health insurance coverage
- Provide an official transcript from your home institution including your most recent term
- Provide proof of receiving a Pell Grant during the term of application or term of study abroad if your financial aid advisor did not already confirm your Pell Grant status (Official documentation from the Financial Aid Office, such as financial aid award letter or package, is acceptable and should include the institution name, student name, and date/term of Pell Grant)
- Provide proof of STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) enrollment
- Complete a one-time registration with IIePay (Zelle) to ensure your bank account can receive your payment
More information about these recipient requirements can be found here.