How to Get Your Gilman Scholarship Application Noticed

The Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship is a congressionally funded program that provides the opportunity for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies abroad.

While there are a variety of scholarships available to students who are studying abroad, the Gilman Scholarship is one of the largest and most well-known scholarships available.

Since the inception of the program in 2001, more than 22,000 scholarships have been awarded to students nationwide. More than 660 USAC students have received the Gilman Scholarship since 2006 and that number continues to grow. Last year the number of USAC students receiving a Gilman Scholarship increased by 9.7%. In order to assist USAC students who plan to apply, we offer a Gilman Scholarship webinar each term that walks you step-by-step through the process. Additionally, we have a dedicated Scholarship Coordinator who is happy to answer questions USAC students have and assist you with your essay. Contact him at

Now that you’re ready to apply for the Gilman Scholarship, here are some important deadlines, and tips from previous award recipients on how to make sure your application gets noticed and selected.

Important things to know


  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be 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);
  • Be a recipient of a Federal Pell Grant or provide proof of receiving a Pell Grant during the term study abroad program or internship;
  • Be in the process of applying to, or accepted for, a study abroad or internship program of at least two weeks for community college students and four weeks for students from four-year institutions, in a single country and eligible for credit from the student’s home institution. Proof of program acceptance is required prior to award disbursement;
  • Request to study in a country not currently under a Travel Warning issued by the United States Department of State* or otherwise determined ineligible for program participation.



  • Over 2,800 scholarships of up to $5,000
  • Applicants who are studying a critical need language are eligible for up to $8,000 (Critical need languages include: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, Urdu)

Where to apply

Tips for getting your application noticed

With thousands of students applying for the Gilman Scholarship, you’ll need to stand out.

Here are some tips from three Gilman Scholarship recipients on how you can get your application noticed and awarded.

Recipient: DeAshea Andrews, studying abroad in Heredia, Costa Rica, Spring 2017

“When applying for the Gilman Scholarship, allow yourself plenty of time to write your essays and have them reviewed. Also, allow yourself time to attain the documents required. The best advice that can be offered to anyone applying is to not procrastinate! DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE to begin your application process.”

Recipient: Coryl Jackson, studying abroad in Accra, Ghana, Spring 2017

“To the students who are thinking of applying to the Gilman Scholarship, I strongly advise you to follow through on this decision. The first step is putting your mind on the reality that this longing to travel while getting an education is possible and achievable. If you feel overwhelmed with the application, take a deep breath and remember what can lie in your future if you continue. As for the essay section, write with passion, personality, and precision. Write about the wonderful traits that you and your desired destination hold. Write in a way that is uniquely yourself, and I can assure you that people will pay attention.”

Recipient: Jerson Valdez, studying abroad in Alicante, Spain, Spring 2017

“For any other student looking to apply to the Gilman Scholarship, my biggest recommendation would be to not be afraid to ask for help. I know it can be a complicated process, but talk to someone who has been through the process or talk to an administrator who you are comfortable with and is familiar with the process. It will make a world of a difference and I know that it really helped me.”

History of the Gilman Scholarship

Sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, the Gilman Scholarship is distributed by the Institute of International Education. The scholarship is named after retired congressman Benjamin A. Gilman who established the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000. The congressman believed in the value and opportunities of study abroad and wanted to make it easier for all students to extend their education overseas.

“Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.” -Benjamin A. Gilman

While the government believes that international experience is crucial to American education and career development, they also understand the financial investment that is needed to study abroad. The Gilman Scholarship Program supports undergraduates who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in study abroad due to financial restraints.

 Explore USAC scholarships