College is an important investment, and students who achieve excellence in their fields of study and careers can help improve the overall quality of life for their families and contribute to improvements in quality of life globally. The cost of education should not be a barrier for talented and outstanding candidates of the Jamat to access high quality university education at accredited institutions.

Below is some additional information for families to access funding for higher education.

Information for Students Residing in the United States

Federal Funding (FAFSA)   
If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, your first step for funding your college should be to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). It is critical that all eligible students apply for FAFSA as soon as the application opens on October 1 each year. FAFSA funds are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis: the earlier you apply, the more likely you are to receive funding (including grants). FAFSA also provides access to subsidized student loans (the borrower starts repayment following graduation) and is open to both graduate and undergraduate students.

Students from Texas only: Students who have graduated from a Texas high school, and have lived in TX for 36 months prior to their high school graduation qualify for the  Texas Application for State Financial Aid (TASFA), which can provide additional opportunities for federal aid for Texas residents.

AKEB Scholarship Programs 
AKEB USA offers scholarship programs for undergraduate and graduate students in the United States.

Undergraduate students   
The Education Financial Assistance and Scholarship (EFAS) program  is a 50% grant, 50% loan scholarship offered to Ismaili students in the U.S. who are entering a four-year undergraduate program at an accredited U.S. university either as a first-year student or as a transfer student from a 2-year community college. Eligibility is based on merit and genuine financial need: both criteria must be met to qualify for the scholarship.

CLICK HERE for a walk-through that describes how to get started on your EFAS application.

Who is eligible for EFAS?    
  • U.S. students entering a full-time degree program at a not-for-profit, four-year accredited American university for the first time. (Candidates who started university in January can apply for the EFAS cycle that fall)
  • Transfer students from a community college to a four-year accredited college/university program.
  • U.S. citizens residing outside the United States and planning to attend university in the U.S. Students who are not eligible for federal financial aid but have completed two years of secondary school in the U.S. (non-U.S. citizens/permanent residents).
Who is not eligible for EFAS? 
  • Students who are already enrolled in an undergraduate program.
  • Students applying to a junior/community college, or a for-profit institution.
EFAS Requirements: 
  • Two years of high school transcripts from a secondary institution in the U.S.
  • Academic qualifications - academic transcripts, standardized test scores (if applicable), essays, and participation in extracurricular activities, including community outreach and leadership roles.
  • Genuine financial need - documentation regarding family income (including tax returns) is required and will be treated with confidentiality.
  • Interview - used to determine eligibility, educational and career plans, financial need requirements, and alternative sources of funding.
  • Must apply to FAFSA and accept all federal aid, including grants and loans.
  • As per AKDN’s ethic of self-sustainability, each student is expected to make personal or family contributions toward their education.

EFAS launches each year in December, and applications close in March. For additional information, visit or contact us at [email protected], or contact your local AKEB team.

Graduate Students     
Families should note that there are few external scholarship opportunities available for graduate students. Students should explore their university websites and advanced degree program to identify any scholarships for which they may be eligible, in addition to FAFSA to secure federal funding (US citizens and permanent residents; see above).

AKEB, in partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation for USA, offers the International Scholarship Programme (AKF-ISP) for graduate students. This highly competitive program provides a limited number of scholarships each year for postgraduate studies to outstanding students from select developing countries who have no other means of financing their studies, to develop effective scholars and leaders and to prepare them for employment, primarily within the AKDN. Scholarships are awarded on a 50% grant, 50% loan basis. The Foundation gives priority to requests for Master's level courses but is willing to consider applications for PhD programs, only in the case of outstanding students who are highly recommended for doctoral studies by their professors and who need a PhD for the fulfillment of their career objectives (academic or research-oriented).

To learn more, visit the AKF-ISP website or contact [email protected]

Private Scholarships 
Many private institutions, corporations, and foundations offer scholarship programs for both undergraduate and graduate students. To find these, students should access scholarship search engines such as College Board Big Future, Fastweb, Unigo, Cappex, Scholarships4students and others. Students should also reference high school news sources, local newspapers, and newsletters, and consult with their high school guidance counselors and teachers for information about local and regional scholarship options.

Some noteworthy scholarships include:

Students should start planning for, and applying to, scholarships early on – some as early as their junior year of high school. To get advice on college planning and applications, please consider applying for Apollo 8 (for eighth graders), or Apollo 12 (for high school seniors). For more information on these and other college readiness  programs, please contact [email protected].

Information for Students Outside the United States

Families who wish to send students to the United States should undertake careful financial planning before starting the college application process.

For international applicants who are not U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents, there are very limited funding options available in the United States. Some private universities may offer international students merit-based scholarships; however, these are highly competitive and limited. In many cases, international students must identify private funding sources, as they also may not qualify for personal bank loans in the United States. U.S. Jamati institutions do not financially support international students at this time.

U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents living abroad are eligible to apply for FAFSA and may also qualify for merit and need-based scholarships offered by their university. Students may also be able to pay “in-state” tuition at some public universities, which reduces the cost of attendance significantly. Students should explore their university websites for more information.

Graduate students only - For students looking to pursue graduate programs, universities may offer funding to international students pursuing research degrees. Students should visit their university websites to get more information. Graduate students may also apply to the AKF-ISP program (see above).

Private Loan Options

Undergraduate and graduate students have the option of acquiring private bank loans to fund their education. Below are three Jamati credit unions that students may wish to consider. Please note that international students may need a U.S.-based guarantor to secure a loan. Please contact the banks directly to get more information.