Tuition Aid for International Students: The Funding Landscape
If you’re an international student and you’re not extremely wealthy, it’s not easy to go to college in the States. Most US colleges charge thousands of dollars per semester—and the sticker price of a US college can be shocking to students used to paying much less in their home countries. And while American students frequently qualify for federal aid to pay for college, this type of aid isn’t available to most international students. However, you can get financial aid as an international student. Here are a few places where the money to fund your education might come from.
From the college itself
There are over 700 colleges that provide at least some financial aid to international students—an amount that could range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. Some of America’s top colleges are on this list, including Yale, Skidmore, Amherst, Vassar, Colby, and Wesleyan. Definitely ask your prospective school in America if they provide financial aid to international students—and if so under what conditions, and what the average aid package numbers are.
In addition, if you are a graduate student, you’ll have an easier time finding financial aid than if you’re going into your first year of undergraduate study. International students in graduate programs frequently achieve teaching assistantships, fellowships, and other aid more easily because they already have proven academic records. Sometimes this type of aid isn’t offered until your second year of graduate school, however. And you’ll have to find a way to pay for your undergraduate education and possibly some of your postgraduate education first.
Private or nonprofit scholarships
If you're an international student, going to college in the US isn't easy. It's frequently more expensive for international students to attend college in the States than it is for US citizens, who have more options when it comes to scholarships and financial aid.
The federal government
As a foreign student you are not eligible for traditional student aid. However, the federal government does administer some programs specifically for foreign nationals. Perhaps most prominent is the Fulbright Scholarship program for international students interested in pursuing a PhD or Masters program in the States. These programs are highly competitive, but provide a lot of benefits—up to full tuition and fees plus airfare, living expenses, and all other costs for the duration of study.
There are a handful of banks in the US that will issue you a student loan—usually you are required to have a US citizen with good credit cosign on the loan. Check out FinAid’s list of lenders who provide loans to international students for more information on individual lenders and terms.
If you’re an international student, going to college in the US isn’t easy. It’s frequently more expensive for international students to attend college in the States than it is for US citizens, who have more options when it comes to scholarships and financial aid. However, it’s possible to find options for funding your education. Check with your school, search private funding options, apply for a Fulbright if you are interested in graduate study, and investigate your private loan options—but always exhaust other possibilities before taking out a private loan.
NAFSA: Financial Aid for International Undergraduate Students
FinAid: Financial Aid for International Students
FinAid: Loans for International Students
US News & World Report: Scholarship Sources for International Students
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- Tuition Aid for International Students: The Funding Landscape
- Major Changes to Your Federal Student Aid in 2012-2013: What's Ahead