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Financial Aid for International Students

Financial aid and scholarship opportunities for students wishing to study in the United States.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

September 28, 2018

Financial Aid for International Students
During the 2016 – 2017 school year, the number of international students studying in the United States reached an all-time high of over 1 million, according to U.S. News & World Report. Now more than ever, international students are trying to seek out ways to make an American education more affordable. Unfortunately, many scholarship opportunities are limited to U.S. citizens and residents. Therefore, international students have to approach paying for college with financial aid. Where does financial aid for international students come from?

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Contrary to popular belief, financial aid for international students can come from a variety of places. First, students should seek financial aid from the institutions they’re interested in attending. This will likely come in the form of merit aid, which is offered based on a student’s academic record, TOEFL scores and extracurricular skills or abilities. International students also have a chance to land scholarships if they demonstrate financial need; however, eligibility and amounts vary by school and are typically awarded on a case-by-case basis. Are there scholarships for international students?

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There are a limited number of outside scholarships available to international students (outside scholarships are defined as scholarships that come from an organization or group not affiliated with an institution of higher learning); however, finding these scholarships requires quite a bit of research. Check the required qualifications for application and contact the scholarship provider if it’s not clear whether or not international students can win the award. After all, it would be pointless to put in the work for a scholarship application that wouldn’t even be awarded to an international student simply because he or she wasn’t a U.S. citizen. What other resources are available to international students to help them pay for school?

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Several organizations have put together helpful resources for international students. These include financial aid advice, fellowships and scholarships:
What other costs should international students consider when studying in the U.S.? Studying in the United States can be very expensive, and there is more to the cost of education for an international student than for a U.S. citizen. In addition to tuition and board, international students need to consider the following costs:
  • Visa/SEVIS fees
  • Travel to the United States
  • Travel within the United States
  • Health and medical insurance
  • Personal expenses on campus
  • Personal expenses during breaks from school if the student does not return home – renting an apartment, paying for meals, securing transportation, etc.

International students have a variety of factors to consider when searching for colleges in the United States, but paying for college does not have to be an insurmountable obstacle. With research and continued communication between the student and prospective colleges, international students can go into the decision of attending college in the U.S. with a clear picture of the costs, expectations and experience.

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