Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program | Frequently Asked Questions |Advisors/Administrators


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Q. Who is eligible for the Gilman International Scholarship Program?

A. To be eligible for the Gilman Scholarship Program applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a citizen of the United States;
  • Be an undergraduate student in good academic standing at an accredited institution of higher education in the United States (as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965;
  • Be receiving a Federal Pell Grant or provide proof that he/she will be receiving a Pell Grant during the term of his/her study abroad program or internship;
  • Be in the process of applying to, or accepted for, a study abroad or internship program approved for academic credit by the student’s home institution for up to one academic year. (Note: Minimum period of study in a single country of at least two weeks for community college students and four weeks for students from four-year institutions.) Proof of program acceptance is required prior to award disbursement;
  • Note: Applicants will be pre-screened to ensure their program of choice is in a country not currently under an official travel warning issued by the United States Department of State or otherwise determined ineligible for program participation. Students applying to programs in Mexico may only apply for scholarships to support study in Mexican states where no advisors is in effect according to the U.S Department of State Travel Warning list.

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Q. What study abroad or internship programs are eligible for the Gilman International Scholarship?

A. Any international exchange program that is eligible for undergraduate academic credit is eligible for the Gilman International Scholarship. Programs do not have to be on your institution’s approved list to be eligible for a Gilman Scholarship. There is no minimum number of credits students have to receive for their program, but the program needs to be academic in nature and eligible for credit at the student’s home institution. If you have a question concerning a program’s eligibility please contact the Gilman Scholarship directly.

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Q. Are multi-country programs eligible?

A. Yes, multi-country programs are eligible so long as the student will spend an eligible length of time in one country. Within the application students should list the country where they will spend the majority of their time abroad first, and then the other countries in chronological order. Within the Statement of Purpose essay they can share further information on the structure and location of their program abroad. Students should not indicate countries that are outside of the program curriculum or to which they have planned independent travel.

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Q. I have a student who wants to apply to two separate education abroad programs in two separate countries during different semesters. What should they do?

A. Students may only submit one application per open application cycle for one program. This program many span two terms, however we cannot award students studying on two separate programs over separate terms. Students may apply for the Gilman Scholarship as often as they like, but are only able to receive the Gilman Scholarship once. If a student doesn’t receive a Gilman Scholarship, they may reapply the following semester.

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Q. What if my student is planning on doing two separate programs in the same country? How do they apply then?

A. The Gilman Program allows only one study abroad program per application and one application per cycle. In this case students should submit their first choice program in their application, for which they may be awarded and use the Gilman Scholarship. The program start and end dates would only pertain to that one program.

To help students find other education abroad scholarships to increase their chances of receiving funding to assist them with both programs, visit the Gilman website’s Other Education Abroad Resources.

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Q. What is the Critical Need Language Award? Who is eligible for that?

A. Students studying a critical need language are automatically considered for the Gilman Critical Need Language Award for a total possible award of $8,000. These are awarded to students studying a critical need language in a country in which that language is predominately spoken.  Note that these awards are competitive and not all students who meet these requirements will receive $8,000. Critical need languages are identified as:

  • Arabic
  • Azerbaijani
  • Bangla
  • Chinese
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Persian
  • Punjabi
  • Russian
  • Swahili
  • Turkish
  • Urdu

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Q. What types of students receive the Gilman International Scholarship?

A. The Gilman Scholarship Program aims to broaden the student population that participates in education abroad by supporting undergraduates who have been traditionally underrepresented and those who might not study or intern abroad due to financial constraints. This includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Students of diverse ethnic backgrounds; 
  • Students studying or interning in non-traditional locations; 
  • Students representing a diverse range of institutions and institutional types; 
  • First-generation college students; 
  • Students with disabilities; 
  • Students studying sciences, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM fields). 

For more information please see the Gilman Selection Criteria page on the Gilman website. For a list of current and previous Gilman Scholarship recipients, please visit the About the Program - Statistics page on the Gilman website.

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Q. How can I advise my student on explaining their choice of program and country in their Statement of Purpose essay?

A. We strongly recommend advisors encourage all eligible students to apply, regardless of the program and country the student has decided to go to, as long as the program and country meet our eligibility requirements. As we advise students, if they apply, they at least have a chance of receiving a scholarship to help fund their study abroad or internship program. If they don't apply, they definitely have no chance of being a recipient. The Gilman program aims to encourage students to study and intern in a diverse array of countries and world regions. The program also encourages students to study languages, especially critical need languages (those deemed important to national security and diplomacy). If the student’s goals for study abroad are not tied to one particular country, we encourage students to utilize resources such as the U.S. Department of State’s Country & Regional Profiles for detailed information and IIE Passport to search for programs by their field of study to explore the various countries with programs that may serve their goals.

As for all students, we advise that they clearly explain their choice of program and country and how it relates to their academic, professional and other future goals. The Gilman Program requests that selection panelists evaluate the student’s program choice in relation to their stated goals and program impact. As this is a scholarship for academic study abroad and career-oriented internships, students should focus on making the connection of program components and activities to their field of study, ability for language acquisition, and skills gained. Articulating the academic and/or professional development aspects of their program and the anticipated impact are essential to include in the Statement of Purpose essay.

Please advise your students to refrain from focusing on the travel and vacation opportunities that this can provide during breaks or upon the completion of their program. This is a scholarship for academic and career-oriented programs aimed to support the student’s ability to complete that program and the benefits resulting from participation. Applicants should focus on the opportunities specifically provided by their international exchange program and location such as internships, volunteer opportunities, research opportunities, home- stays, extra-curricular activities, etc.

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Q. Does the Gilman Scholarship support students of diverse ethnic backgrounds?

A. Yes, the Gilman Scholarship Program strongly encourages students of diverse ethnic backgrounds to apply for the Gilman Scholarship. These students are traditionally underrepresented in U.S. education abroad numbers and this program aims to increase the diversity of Gilman Scholarship recipients by first increasing the diversity of Gilman Scholarship applicants. In the first ten years the Gilman Program has provided funding for education abroad to 15% of Gilman Scholarship recipients who identified their ethnicity as African-American. Nationally, as reported by Open Doors, only 4% of students who studied abroad in this ten year time period were African-American. Students and advisors should note that the ethnicity question in the Gilman Scholarship application is optional and only used for statistical purposes. The selection panelists are not provided with a student's response to this question. The only way a selection panelist would know the ethnicity of a student is if the student chooses to self-disclose this within their Statement of Purpose or Follow-on Service Project proposal. For more information on the breakdown of Gilman Scholarship applicants and recipients please access the About the Program - Statistics page on the Gilman website.

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Q. What suggestions can you give me on how to advise and review my student's Statement of Purpose essay for the Gilman International Scholarship?

A. When advising students on their Statement of Purpose essay it is helpful to encourage them to think of and address the impact that their study abroad program or internship will have on their academic, professional, and personal goals. They should also think of and address the impact that receiving the Gilman Scholarship would have on their achievement of these goals. Some key ideas to have your students keep in mind are:

  • Why do you wish to study or intern abroad and what factors led you to this decision? What do you hope to gain from and what do you anticipate will be the impact of your experience abroad? 
  • Describe your study or intern abroad program. What factors led you to select this program and length of study?  
  • Why have you chosen your country of study? What factors led you to select this country?  
  • How will this study or intern abroad program and the coursework you take abroad impact your academic and future professional goals?  
  • Are there any distinctive components to this program, beyond coursework, that will impact your overall learning experience abroad? (i.e. home-stays, internships, field research, volunteer activities, extra-curricular activities, etc.)  
  • What challenges, if any, did you face in your decision to study or intern abroad? How did you meet these challenges and what impact do you foresee them having on your experience abroad? These could include, but are not limited to, being a parent, being a non-traditional student, having a learning or physical disability, being in a field of study for which it is difficult to incorporate study abroad, etc.

In addition to addressing the above in their essays all Gilman Scholarship applicants should have their Statement of Purpose and Follow-on Service Project proposal essays proofread by an advisor or a campus writing center prior to submitting their application online. Failure to have an application proofread can lead to common errors and mistakes that are not caught by spell-check. Essays with spelling and grammar errors tend to be less competitive during the selection process and thus reduce a student's overall chance of receiving a Gilman Scholarship. Moreover, the essays are limited to 7,000 characters, including spaces, so it is important for students to elaborate on the important points listed above and do so in a concise and cohesive manner.

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Q. What about the Follow-on Service Project? What is this and how do I advise my students on their Follow-on Service Project Proposal essay?

A. To help expand the impact of the Gilman Scholarship, all Gilman scholars are required to carry out a Follow-on Service Project upon their return from abroad that helps to promote international education and the Gilman International Scholarship. This project can be done on the student's home campus or in their local community and must be completed within six months of their return to the U.S. All applicants must submit a project proposal within their application and this proposal is closely reviewed during the selection process. When advising students on their project proposal please ask your students to keep these questions in mind:

  • Who is my target audience and how do I plan on reaching this population? Will I carry out this project on my campus or in my local community? What impact will my project have on this group and how will my project interest my target population in international education and encourage them to apply for the Gilman International Scholarship?
  • How will I inform my target audience of my project? What arrangements will I need to make to publicize my project? For example, will I post notices to all Pell Grant recipients on campus via email or send invitations to members of a specific campus population?
  • Are there already established campus or community organizations, offices, student groups or networks that I can utilize in reaching out to my target audience? How will working with these groups/offices help benefit and expand the impact that my project will have?
  • What is the timeline for my project and how will this impact my target audience? For example, will I return in time to present at a campus education abroad fair? Or if your project involves working with a local K-12 classroom, will that school be in session when you return and are completing your project?
  • How will I carry out my project? Are there methods I can utilize, such as PowerPoint presentations, websites, slide shows, photos, etc., that can assist me in achieving my project goals and reaching my target audience? What impact will the methods I use have on my audience?

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Q. Can you give me examples of Follow-on Service Projects that Gilman Scholarship Recipients have done?

A. Gilman scholars have proposed and carried out a wide range of Follow-on Service Projects. Each cycle a variety of projects are submitted and there are no right or wrong proposals. We encourage all applicants to propose a unique project that highlights their individual background, experiences abroad, and their current passions, interests, talents and skills. Some examples of the types of projects Gilman scholars have carried out are indicated on the Essays page. This is by no means an exhaustive list and we look forward to continuing to receive unique, individual proposals from all applicants. 

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Application Process - How to Apply

Q. How do students apply for the Gilman International Scholarship and when are the deadlines?

A. Students apply for the Gilman Scholarship Program via an online application that they can access approximately six weeks prior to the application deadline. The online application does have a save and stop option so students may begin their application and come back to complete and submit it at any point prior to the application deadline. However, the Gilman Program strongly encourages students to begin their application as soon as possible as this allows them adequate time to compose their essays and have them proofread by an advisor prior to submission. As this is an online system, students have the ability to submit their application as late as 11:59pm Central time on the application deadline. However, doing so is risky because if student should the student encounter any issues with submitting their application at that time, there will be no one in the Gilman Program office to assist them. Office hours for the Gilman Program are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Central time).

Students can study and intern abroad during the spring, summer, fall or academic year term. It is important that students apply for the correct scholarship term according to their program dates in order to be considered for the Gilman Scholarship. There are two application deadlines each year for the Gilman Scholarship Program: 1) spring and early summer program applications are due in early October and 2) summer and fall/academic year program applications are due in early march.

For detailed information, please refer to the Deadlines & Timeline page of the Gilman website.

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Q. What are the advisor certifications and how does this work?

A. All applications for the Gilman International Scholarship must be certified online by both a financial aid and a study abroad advisor. The financial aid advisor will indicate whether or not the student is currently receiving a Federal Pell Grant and the estimated amount of financial aid, in grants and scholarships – excluding loans - that the student may apply to their study abroad program or internship. The study abroad advisor will verify the abroad program information provided by the student is correct and that the program listed in the application is or is not an undergraduate, academic credit-eligible program. If the student is not receiving the Federal Pell Grant, or is not eligible for Gilman for any reason, please express this in your certification by answering the questions and, if needed, providing explanation in the "Further Comments" box, both of which are reviewed by the Gilman team before the application goes to the next phase of review. This ensures that the application is complete and that the Gilman Program is aware of concerns of eligibility. 

Once a student submits their online application the financial aid and study abroad advisor selected by the student will automatically receive an email. The email will notify you that this student has submitted an application that requires your certification. 

The deadline for advisors to submit their online certifications is one week after the online student application deadline. However, we encourage all advisors to submit certifications as quickly as possible. This ensures timely processing of your student's application and allows time for any questions or issues to be addressed.

For more information about advisor certifications and a visual guide to the Gilman Advisor Portal, please refer to this video.


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Q. How do students know who to list as their financial aid or study abroad advisor?

A. Students must select a study abroad advisor and financial advisor from a list of certifying advisors from their home institution. In order for an advisor to be listed as a certifying advisor, an advisor must create an account in the Gilman Scholarship application online portal.

All applicants are advised that prior to submitting their application they should contact both the financial and study abroad office to confirm which advisors they should select in their application. The most common mistake students make in the online application is listing an incorrect advisor, so please make your students aware of the correct advisor to list when they inform you of their plan to apply for the Gilman Scholarship. If you would like to be listed as a financial aid or study abroad advisor for your institution please create an advisor account at the Gilman Scholarship application online portal. If there are any updates needed for the advisor list at your institution, besides new accounts, please email

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Q. What if I cannot determine my student’s Pell Grant status because their financial aid package is not yet finalized, in review or being re-evaluated?

A. If a student has not yet received his/her financial aid package, then the financial aid advisor should use the student’s previous financial aid award as a preliminary response. Financial aid advisors should then indicate the discrepancy in the “Further Comments” box on the certification page and let us know an estimated date when we can contact you for further information. Additionally, it is helpful to contact the Gilman Scholarship Program to notify us once the final financial aid package has been confirmed so that we can have the most updated information available when reviewing student applications.

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Q. What if a student is not currently receiving a Pell Grant, but may receive one during the term of his/her study abroad program?

A. To be eligible for a Gilman Scholarship, students must be receiving a Federal Pell Grant the term they are applying for a Gilman Scholarship OR the term they are abroad; they do not have to be receiving the Pell Grant both terms. If a student is currently not receiving a Federal Pell Grant, but may receive one during the academic term abroad, then financial aid advisors are encouraged to indicate this in the certification. Financial aid advisors may estimate the student’s financial aid award that the student could receive during his/her term abroad. This may be based on estimating the student’s previous academic year’s financial aid award. Financial aid advisors should then indicate the discrepancy in the “Further Comments” box on the certification page. Additionally, it is helpful to contact the Gilman Scholarship Program to notify us once the final financial aid package has been confirmed, so that we can have the most updated information available when reviewing student applications.

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Q. Does this program require letters of recommendation? What do I need to say in the Further Comments box?

A. No, the Gilman Scholarship Program does not require nor do we accept letters of recommendation or other supporting documentation from applicants.  Applicants are judged solely based on the information provided in their application, which includes their academic transcript(s). Advisors are asked to refrain from using the Further Comments box on the application certification screen to make recommendations as these will not be reviewed in the selection process.

You may use the Further Comments box to make note of any errors or omissions in the information the student has provided in their application. For example, if a student listed an incorrect start or end date, an incorrect program title, etc. Financial aid advisors should indicate any discrepancies in financial aid that has yet to be awarded to the student in the “Further Comments” box on the certification page (see above). 

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Q. How and when do students need to submit their transcripts?

A. The Gilman Scholarship Program requires transcript(s) to accompany the students' application before it can be reviewed by the selection committee and considered for an award. All applicants will need to upload an official transcript from their currently enrolled college or university, as well as either an official or unofficial transcript from any institutions the applicant was previously enrolled in as a degree-seeking student. Official transcripts can be opened for the purpose of uploading. Unofficial transcripts may be issued from your institution or web-based from your student account, but copy and pasted versions are not acceptable. If the applicant is a first-year student and does not have a previous record at their current institution, then they will need to upload their high school transcript or previous institution's transcript along with an enrollment verification letter from their current institution including their in-progress courses. Transcripts must be uploaded before the deadline assigned for the current application cycle in order to submit a complete online application. Transcripts need to be legible and accurate, as well as rotated correctly, for the selection panelists to review and take the student’s academic background into consideration. More information and detailed instructions guiding students through the transcript upload process can be found on the Gilman website’s Instructions for Uploading Transcripts into the Gilman Online Application and in an instructional video.

Important Reminder: If selected to receive a Gilman Scholarship, the applicant will be required to upload an official transcript from their current institution during the award documentation process.

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Q. When and how will my students be notified of the status of their application? Will advisors be notified as well?

A. All applicants for the Gilman Scholarship Program will receive notification of their final status via email upon the conclusion of application review and selection processing. For this reason, it is very important that applicants update the Gilman Program should their email address change prior to notification. To review the notification dates please access the Deadlines & Timeline for this academic year.

Advisors will not be copied on notifications sent to applicants. Once recipients are notified, a list of Gilman Scholarship Awards Offered for that cycle will be posted on the Gilman website. The Gilman Program will let advisors know through an email announcement that awards are posted and they can view the list of their students and award amounts in their advisor account through the Recipients tab.

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Award Process

Q. One of my students has been selected as a Gilman International Scholarship recipient. What do they/I need to do now?

A. At this point the student will need to follow the instructions contained in the notification email they received regarding acceptance of the Gilman Scholarship they were offered and submit all required award documentation by the given deadline. They are also advised to speak with both their financial aid and study abroad advisors regarding the receipt of their Gilman Scholarship. It is especially important that recipients speak with their financial aid advisor prior to accepting their Gilman Scholarship as receipt of an outside scholarship can sometimes have an impact on the student's overall financial aid package. Should this be the case for your student, the financial aid advisor should immediately contact the Gilman Program.

The Gilman Scholarship Program encourages advisors to assist recipients, where appropriate, in compiling their required award documentation as indicated on the Award Documentation Checklist. This includes all required documentation forms, official transcript, proof of U.S. citizenship, proof of compliance with the Fly America Act, proof of acceptance into the study abroad program or internship the student applied for, proof of international health insurance, and a photograph. Recipients can access the Award Documentation Checklist and all other forms online as indicated in their notification email.

All award documentation must be submitted by the student themselves online. All communication regarding award documentation and status will be directed to the individual recipient and due to privacy concerns, no information about the recipient beyond what is posted on the Gilman website will be made available to any other party, including advisors. The only exception to this is if the recipient has given Power-of-Attorney status to another individual. Then, this is the only other person that may also submit and sign award documentation on behalf of the recipient. However, they must first provide the Gilman Program with a photocopy of the Power-of-Attorney documentation, thereby enabling the Gilman office to communicate with and receive documentation from this individual on their behalf.

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Q. One of my students has been chosen as a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship but they will not be studying abroad this term after all. What do they/I need to do now?

A. Gilman Scholarships must be used for the academic term in which they were awarded. They cannot be held over or deferred to a future term.  Thus, if this student will not be studying or interning abroad for the term and program they had applied for, they will need to decline their scholarship offer. In this case, we ask that advisors notify the Gilman Program via email that the student will not be participating in the program abroad they had applied for. The Gilman staff will then confirm this with the student and advise them of the next steps to officially decline their scholarship.

This student may reapply for any future application cycle of the Gilman Scholarship Program as long as they remain eligible. Their previous application will have no impact on any future application they may wish to submit. They will need to submit a new application for that cycle and it will be reviewed with the new applicant pool.

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Q. What if my student is still planning to study or intern abroad, but they have changed their program/host country. What do they/I need to do now?

A. Changes in program and/or host country are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Generally, changes within the same country are approved so long as the program is for the same term and duration as that indicated in the original application. Changes in host country are discouraged as the country can play a large part in the overall review and selection process of the applicant. Where possible, we strongly encourage students to remain in the same world region if a change in country of study is required. If this is not possible, we ask that the student select a program that has as similar structure and content as that of the original program they had applied for.

Students may request a change in program/host country by contacting the Gilman Scholarship office directly at (for last names A-D), (for last names E-K), (for last names L-Q) and (for last names R-Z). They will need to explain the reason behind their change in program/country and provide the Gilman Scholarship Program with information on their new program abroad. The study abroad advisor and financial aid advisor will also need to re-certify the new program information within the student’s application. For questions please contact the Gilman Program directly.

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Q. What if the country my student has chosen goes on a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning either prior to or while they are abroad?

A. As the Gilman Scholarship Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs no Gilman Scholarship may be awarded to a student studying in a country that is currently under a Travel Warning. Students applying to programs in Mexico may only apply for scholarships to support study in Mexican states where no advisory is in effect according to the Travel Warning list.

If a Travel Warning is issued for the country prior to the departure, the Gilman Scholarship Program will assist the student in finding an alternative location abroad to retain their scholarship status; however, changes to the program may impact the award amount. If they are unable to find an alternative location for that term they will need to decline their Gilman Scholarship and they then will be able to reapply for a future application cycle.

The Gilman Scholarship Program regularly sends Gilman scholars abroad any updates to Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements or Travel Warnings for their country of study. It is for this reason that all Gilman scholars abroad are required to maintain a valid, working email address with the Gilman Program and submit their emergency contact information in their application and onsite contact information upon arrival to their host country. Should an emergency arise abroad or a Travel Warning be issued, the Gilman Program would use the contact information contained in the recipient’s online Gilman account to contact the recipient or their emergency contacts abroad or within the U.S.

Moreover, all Gilman Scholarship recipients are required to register with the U.S. Embassy in their host country via the online registration system, Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP). Should an emergency arise the embassy will be able to locate and advise the student further regarding the situation in that country. Generally, most universities and/or study abroad programs will require the return of students in countries where a Travel Warning has been issued. The Gilman Program will work closely with recipients and their home institutions in these situations that may impact their scholarship status.

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Q. How will the award check be issued and disbursed? Will it be sent directly to the student or to the university?

A. Award funds are disbursed via a single check (mailing address in the U.S. provided by the recipient) or through direct deposit to the recipient’s bank account. Recipients will input disbursement information directly into the password protected and secure Gilman Recipient Portal. Recipients of the Gilman Scholarship will not be asked to provide personal bank information outside of the secure Gilman Recipient Portal.

Gilman Scholarship award checks are made out directly to the individual student. As such, the award check will be issued payable to the student only. It cannot be issued or made co-payable to any other individual, organization or institution. However, award checks may be sent in care of another individual, organization or institution as requested by the recipient.

If a recipient elects to send a check in care of another individual, organization or institution, the student will first need to ensure arrangements have been made so that they can sign the check over to that individual, organization or institution; or that the individual, organization or institution has the ability to deposit the check to their banking or student account.

Recipients also have the option of having their funds directly deposited into their bank account. If a student selects this option, they will be required to upload a permanent voided check in their name into our secure online system. If they do not have permanent checks the Gilman Program has a required document (provided in their award documentation) that must be completed by the student’s bank to confirm their account information.

Gilman recipients are responsible for any and all financial obligations that arise from participation in their chosen study abroad program or internship. Gilman Scholarship funds can only be used for program related expenses, such as tuition, program fees, room & board, transportation, insurance, and books. Gilman Scholarship funds cannot be used for costs not required by or as a part of the program abroad.

Funds cannot be disbursed until all required award documentation has been received by the Gilman Program. From the date the recipient's documentation file is complete, it will take between two and three weeks for the check to arrive at the provided address or for the funds to be directly deposited into the student’s bank account. All award checks are sent via U.S. mail. Even if the student indicates the award check is sent in care of another individual, the Gilman Program will not be able to communicate any information regarding the recipient or their award status unless they have given this individual Power-of-Attorney status and provided us with a photocopy of the documentation.

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