The Cayman Islands Government offer scholarships to all Caymanian students who qualify to pursue either a local or an overseas tertiary education course. Students can apply to the Scholarship Secretariat for an overseas scholarship between 15th November and 31st January annually, and a local scholarship between 1st March and 30th April.
No late applications are accepted. Students need to apply to a university prior to their scholarship application. The qualifying criteria for a scholarship varies depending on whether you are aiming to take a Technical and Vocational course (TVET), a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s or a PhD. Incidentally, you must be 18 within the first academic year of study, but there is no upper age limit on applying for a scholarship.
In 2018 the Education Council introduced means testing in order to prioritise those students whose parents or legal guardians have a combined income of less than CI$400,000 per year. This allows for the allocated budget to be utilized for those students who really need the financial support and have less resources to pay for college/university and its related costs, especially in these days when Government funding is limited. However, if an applicant is above the threshold but there are “special” circumstances then they may ask the Education Council to consider their application.
The qualifying criteria for a local or overseas scholarship can be quite complicated and vary according to which type of degree or course you choose to take.
One important thing to consider is that a student who is awarded a scholarship must sign a legal document committing them to a) successfully completing their proposed studies and b) then working in the Cayman Islands for a specific period of time after their studies finish. If the student fails to meet either of these two requirements they will have to repay all the scholarship funds that they have received.
Technical/Vocational Study Programmes (TVET)
To be considered for an overseas scholarship for a Technical/Vocational Study Programmes (TVET) such as Auto Mechanics, Computer Engineering, Building Construction Technology or Radiography Technician you must have 5 higher level GCSE/CXC subject passes with A, B or C grades including Math and English Language, or 3 higher GCSE/CXC passes with A, B or C grades with 99 Foundation Maths and English with A or B grades from UCCI or ICCI, or a cumulative high school GPA of 2.75 or higher including Maths and English Language passes with A, B or C grades, or a cumulative GPA of 2.5 in your first year of study at UCCI or other Institution WITH professional or academic work in the desired course of study. Mature Candidates will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Undergraduate Degree Scholarships
To be considered for an overseas scholarship to study a Bachelor’s degree programme you must have passed your AP, IB, A Levels, BTEC, SATs or Associate’s Degree to a certain criteria set out in the Scholarship Secretariat’s application form.
- International Baccalaureate (IB)
You must have taken and passed the full IB diploma and achieved a high school GPA of 3.25
- Advanced Placement (AP)
Refer to the scholarship section of the Ministry of Education website as the point system and requirements have recently changed
- A Levels/CAPE
You must have passed three A Levels each with a minimum grade of C, or CAPE Unit 2
- Associates Degress
Achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or higher
- BTEC Level 3
You must have an Extended Diploma with a minimum MMM grade average
The Education Council may award an overseas scholarship to students who do not have advanced standing (IB, A Levels, CAPE, AP) if they meet one of the following two criteria: 1) Seven GCSE/CXC passes at A or B grade, including Mathematics and English, or 2) a combined cumulative High School GPA of 3.25 or higher or an SAT score of 1500 on the old SAT, 1100 on the new SAT or an ACT score of 22.
Undergraduate Funding Levels & Subsequent Years
To maintain their scholarship, students must achieve a 2.75 GPA or a 2:2 in the first year of study, and a 3.00 GPA or a 2:1 in your subsequent years. The Secretariat requires you to do at least 12 credits per term/semester in your first year and then 15 credits per term in the subsequent years. Overall, a Bachelor’s degree should take 120 credits to complete. Each year you should be doing a minimum of 30 credits for a four year course, and 40 credits for a three year course.
The Secretariat’s annual audit of your scholarship will measure this, and your funding will stop if you are taking less than the credit requirements. Funding comes in twice a year and is based on your declared expenses. Qualifying students can get funding of up to CI$20,000 per year for a maximum of four years, unless they are reading Medicine and then that can be extended to six years and beyond if the student is specialising in a chosen field and need to take internships. Once per degree, and based on budgetary considerations, students can apply for mandatory summer funding; this is capped at CI$4,000 and is dependent on specific guidelines having been met.
Undergraduate Application Process
The application form for an overseas scholarship is not unduly onerous. Applicants must apply online and a number of documents must be uploaded with your online application. These include:
- your completed scholarship application form
- your medical certificate
- academic/character references
- official high school or college transcripts
- 1 passport photo
- a personal statement
- a degree plan outlining the courses to be taken throughout your programme of study
- a letter of acceptance on your chosen course and any transfer of credits where this is applicable
- an Excel spreadsheet with all the costs outlined (tuition, housing, meals, flights, books etc)
- your birth certificate
- your Right to be Caymanian/Status certificate
- a cover letter
It is worth noting that the Scholarship Secretariat want to know that you have looked into your course in great detail. They want to know exactly what modules you will be studying each year and whether there are any specific A Levels (like Maths) that you need to have taken to get into your chosen course.
In the overseas scholarship application process there is a mandatory interview for short-listed applicants. That interview includes at least two professionals in the field that the student wants to student wants to study. The interview is to determine if the student is ready to undertake the study and whether they understand how they will apply their degree to a job. The panel of interviewees will then score the candidate and then give their recommendations on whether the student is ready, whether they understand the field that they are going to study and whether the university of choice is applicable. Some students choose a university because of a family attachment or because the university itself has been a popular choice with other students, and not chosen because of the course they can take or whether it is the best university for the subject they want to study.
Your parent’s ability to assist financially will be taken into account for all scholarships, and a ‘Declaration of Income and Expenses’ for all sureties will be required to be submitted. You will then have to sign a student bond with your surety if you are awarded a scholarships committing you to a) successfully completing your proposed studies and b) then working in the Cayman Islands for a specific period of time after your studies finish. If you fail to meet either of these two requirements you will have to repay all the scholarship funds that you have received. Having said that, you have a 12-month window in which you should return to Cayman after your degree finishes, or you can apply to the Council for an extension to your return date.
Tracking Undergraduate Scholarship Expenses
Each semester students must go through a detailed submission process for their scholarship funds to be continued, and in the process they must submit a detailed grade and transcript record, along with receipts of how the money they received was spent. All the paperwork will then be reviewed in great detail and the Scholarship Secretariat, who are more like forensic financial accountants, will study how you have spent the money they gave you and whether you qualify to receive any money for the next semester. In addition to the Ministry of Education’s scholarships students can also apply for a private sector scholarship as long as both scholarships do not exceed the students total costs.
Although the process of getting a scholarship may seem overwhelming, the Secretariat must have a way of measuring student’s performance. They also require the students to go through a costing procedure. Each student must fill in a spreadsheet which automatically tables their expenses and identifies the different costs which they should be thinking about (tuition, room and board, food, dorm supplies, school supplies, books, utilities, transportation at university, flights home etc).