International Student Financial Aid
What kind of financial aid can you get as a foreign student in America?
It’s no secret that attending college in America is expensive. Tuition alone will cost you between $15,000 and $40,000 per year, and that is not factoring in additional fees and living expenses. Before you begin applying to colleges and universities in the US, make sure you will have the funds to cover all of your expenses.
According to the Association of International Educators, more than two-thirds of international students in the US finance their tuition and expenses using their own resources and those of their families.
Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, one of the best places to look for financial aid is in your home country.
But what if you and your family cannot pay for your college tuition completely out-of-pocket? What financial aid is available to international students?
Financial Aid for International Students
You’re going to have to dig hard to find financial aid as an undergraduate international student.
US government programs that American undergraduate students typically rely on such as the Pell Grant, Stafford Loan, PLUS Loans and Federal Work Study programs are not available to international students.
International students from Canada and Mexico typically have an easier time finding financial aid for their studies in America.
Graduate students may have a bit more luck locating financial aid. A great number of international graduate students are able to obtain aid by completing an assistantship. Others may apply for aid offered by international organizations such as the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), AMIDEAST, International Maritime Organization and the League of Red Cross Societies.
Many colleges and universities in the US have set aside aid for undergraduate international students.
Generally, these are institutions that already have a high number of foreign students. Some of these schools include:
- Harvard University
- Dartmouth College
- Stanford University
- University of Miami
- Southwestern College
- University of Chicago
For a complete list of schools with international student financial aid visit Edupass.org.
Whether you are an undergraduate or graduate student, one of the best places to look for financial aid is in your home country. Many programs require you to return home after your studies, and some mandate that you be nominated by your government in order to be eligible.
For example, Saudi Arabia offers a program that provides a full scholarship to students who want to study in the US. More than 10,000 Saudi Arabians take advantage of this each year. Check with your government to find out what types of programs you are eligible for.
International Student Scholarships and Loans
Unfortunately, there are not many scholarships and loans for international students available in the US.
Most loans for international students require you to have a US citizen or permanent resident as a co-signer. However, you may be able to find a loan such as the Global Student Loan Corp. (GSLC) that will approve without an American co-signer.
You might be able to obtain a loan from your new college. For example, the University of California, Berkeley, offers the Shih Loan Program, which allows a student to take out interest-free loans that must be repaid after she has completed her studies.
Other loans for international students include:
- Canadian Higher Education Loan Program (CanHELP)
- International Student Loan Program (ISLP) and Study Abroad Loan Program (SALP)
- Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA)
- Norwest Bank
- The Education Resources Institute (TERI)
All of these loans have special restrictions, so be sure you are eligible before applying.
You will probably find more scholarships for international students through your college than the government. For example, Grinnell College offers the International Merit Scholarship, which is not based on financial need. The college also offers competitive Special Scholarships that cover the full cost of tuition offered only to students from Africa, Eastern Europe and Eurasia, Latin America, the Middle East, Nepal and Russian native speakers regardless of their citizenship.
If you are performing a scholarship search, make sure you start before you move to the US because many require you to apply from your home country.
Do not pay any money toward a scholarship search database. You shouldn’t have to pay money to get money. The same goes for scholarships that require an application fee. If so, it’s probably a scam.
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