Aurora Foundation Scholarships in Latin America: Your Guide to Opportunities and the Application Process

Latin America is a vibrant region full of promise and talented students seeking to fulfill their potential through higher education. However, accessing quality schools and programs can come with significant financial barriers for many. This is where the Aurora Foundation seeks to make a difference by awarding merit-based scholarships to outstanding students across Latin America who otherwise may not have been able to continue their studies.

About the Aurora Foundation

The Aurora Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 2011 based in Washington D.C. with the mission of investing in education to help build a more just, prosperous, and peaceful world. Through awarding scholarships and small grants, the Foundation aims to support talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds to complete university degrees that will allow them to become leaders and positively impact their communities.

To date, the Aurora Foundation has awarded over 500 scholarships across Latin America totaling more than $5 million USD in funding. Scholarship recipients have gone on to pursue studies in a diverse range of fields, including law, engineering, medicine, education, and more, at top institutions. After graduation, scholars are encouraged to give back by working on causes related to development, human rights, or social justice issues in their home countries.

Aurora Foundation Scholarships in Latin America

The Aurora Foundation currently offers two main scholarship programs for Latin American students to apply for:

1. Undergraduate Scholarship Program

This prestigious 4-year scholarship is intended for high-achieving students who have been accepted into an accredited university program to complete their bachelor’s degree but lack the financial means to enroll. Scholarship awards provide full funding to cover tuition, fees, books, living expenses, and other education-related costs for the entire duration of the undergraduate study.

Eligible fields of study include all areas that lead to a recognized bachelor’s degree except for business, administration, or commercial degrees. Priority is given to programs that align with the Foundation’s mission, like education, healthcare, environment etc. Annual renewal is contingent upon maintaining good academic standing.

2. Graduate Scholarship Program

For students who have already obtained a bachelor’s degree and wish to pursue postgraduate studies, the Graduate Scholarship provides 1-2 years of financial support. It aims to help outstanding scholars complete professionally oriented master’s programs at accredited institutions that will allow them to contribute significantly to their career path and community development work.

Fields supported under this award include public policy, international relations, development studies, public health, and other applied sciences. Funding covers tuition, fees, and a living stipend. Scholars must secure admission to an eligible graduate program before applying.

Program Requirements and Eligibility Criteria

While the Aurora Foundation scholarships are merit-based, there are some key eligibility filters in place to make sure that only the most suitable candidates are selected:

  • Nationality: Applicants must be citizens and permanent residents of a Latin American country.
  • Financial Need: Demonstrated need for full or significant financial assistance to fund university education. Household income should not exceed certain thresholds defined by the Foundation.
  • Academic Achievement: A minimum grade average of 80% or equivalent throughout prior education is expected. Strong academic credentials from a recognized high school or university degree are a must.
  • English Proficiency: Undergraduate applicants should have at least intermediate English skills. Graduate candidates must provide proof of proficiency, like TOEFL/IELTS scores.
  • Leadership Experience: Participation in volunteer work, extracurricular activities, or community initiatives that illustrate the applicant’s leadership potential.
  • Future Goals: Clearly defined career aspirations and plans after graduation that are aligned with development priorities in Latin America.
  • Age Limit: Applicants should be no older than 28 years old at the time of application for undergraduate awards and 35 years for graduate studies.

Scholarships are open to students of any gender or ethnicity who fulfill these basic requirements. Successful candidates demonstrate high achievement, purpose, and promise to create social impact through their chosen field upon return.

Available Fields of Study

While the Aurora Foundation aims to consider applications from all eligible academic disciplines for both undergraduate and graduate programs, certain fields aligned with development needs tend to receive preference during selection:

Undergraduate Degrees

  • Education
  • Public Health
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Engineering (Civil, Mechanical, etc.)
  • Agriculture & Food Security
  • Law
  • Social Work

Graduate Degrees

  • Public Policy
  • International Development
  • Education Policy
  • Sustainable Development
  • Public Health Management
  • Environmental Management
  • Human Rights & Democracy

Promising scholars pursuing degrees with the potential to address social issues, promote human rights or aid vulnerable populations stand a stronger chance of being awarded a prestigious Aurora Foundation scholarship.

Application Process and Deadlines

Applying for Aurora Foundation scholarships is a comprehensive process that involves multiple stages. Here is a step-by-step overview:

1. Pre-screening Form

All potential applicants must first complete an online pre-screening form available on the Foundation’s website. This helps determine preliminary eligibility based on basic details.

2. Application Portal

For those who meet pre-screening criteria, the full online application portal opens with questions on academics, extracurriculars, future goals, references, etc. Supporting documents must also be uploaded.

3. Essays

Two well-written, compelling essays of 500-600 words each are a crucial part of the application – one on the applicant’s leadership experience and another on their vision and plans after graduation.

4. Recommendations

Two letters of recommendation from former professors or employers are mandatory to gauge the applicant’s character, skills, and suitability.

5. Transcripts and Scores

Scanned copies of mark sheets, diplomas, English proficiency certificates, and other relevant academic documents need to be submitted.

6. Interviews (Selected Candidates Only)

Shortlisted applicants may be called for an interview via teleconference or online to assess their communication abilities and passion for creating social impact.

Application deadlines vary by country and program. Most undergraduate rounds close around May or July for enrollment the following Fall term. Graduate deadlines are usually mid-January for starting studies later that year. Strict adherence to timelines is important.

Successful scholars are notified by email around late August-September. Award documents must be signed within 2-4 weeks to secure admission and scholarship at the selected university.

Selection Process and Criteria

After meeting the minimum eligibility filters, here are the key factors that determine if an applicant progresses further or gets selected as an Aurora Scholar:

Academic Performance

  • Grades, scores and rigor of prior education programs
  • Strength of academics relative to opportunities available

Leadership Experience

  • meaningful roles in community organizations, charities etc.
  • initiatives that created positive change or helped others

Future Goals

  • Well-defined aspirations aligned with Foundation mission
  • Realistic plans to give back to society post-graduation

Financial Need

  • Family income and assets relative to local costs of living
  • Dependence on scholarship for university enrollment


  • Endorsements vouching for character, leadership, skills
  • Alignment of views on applicant’s purpose and potential

Application Quality

  • Organization, clarity and compelling essays
  • Providing complete information professionally

Interview Round (If Shortlisted)

  • Communication and interpersonal abilities
  • Passion, sincerity and knowledge shown

A selection committee reviews all eligible applications anonymously based on these merit-focused parameters. The best candidates who demonstrate exceptional achievement, purpose, and leadership promise despite obstacles are selected through a rigorous multi-stage evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the Aurora Foundation scholarships:

1. What universities can I apply to with an Aurora scholarship?

Scholars have complete freedom to secure admission into any accredited public or private university within Latin America or overseas that offers their chosen program of study. Top institutions where Aurora scholars have studied previously include the University of Chile, the University of Buenos Aires, and the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, among others at home and overseas institutions like Harvard, Berkeley, etc.

2. Can I get other scholarships in addition to the Aurora award?

Yes, receiving additional funding, such as subject-specific departmental grants or need-based aid from the host university, is allowed and often complements the Aurora scholarship amount. However, scholars cannot simultaneously hold full-tuition scholarships from multiple large foundations to avoid any conflict of interest.

3. What are my obligations as an Aurora Scholar after graduation?

There are no strict post-graduation bond requirements. Scholars are however encouraged to pursue careers aligned with social impact or development in their home countries for 2-3 years through volunteer work, non-profit jobs, or public service if possible. Aurora also organizes networking and engagement events that scholars are invited to.

4. Can I defer my award to a later term if I need more time to prepare?

One-time deferrals of up to one year are permitted, but requests must be presented to and approved by the Foundation in advance of the original enrollment semester. Scholars are recommended to only defer as a last resort if absolutely necessary, as it comes with no guarantee the funds will remain available in future cycles. The award could potentially be withdrawn and granted to another candidate instead if circumstances change.

5. What if I want to change or double major after receiving the scholarship?

Scholarship recipients have the flexibility to modify their academic plans as long as the revised program and university remain eligible per Foundation criteria. Requesting to add a second major is typically allowed, but changing to an ineligible field could result in the termination of award funding. Scholars must maintain good communication and seek prior approval from their Aurora scholarship officer about any substantive program changes.

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