Image from StockSnap Commons.

Image from StockSnap Commons.

Colleges, especially private ones, aren’t always as aid-friendly as you think. Many colleges don’t allow international students in the Early Decision/Early Action group to request for financial aid, while other schools openly state that request for financial aid will affect the student’s chance of acceptance. However, there are still a lot of options for aid if you are an international applicant.

What am I eligible for?

Federal & State Financial Aid

This type of financial aid includes Fulbright scholarship, FAFSA, and other common fellowships and programs. Unfortunately, international students with F or J visa are NOT eligible to apply for aid through FAFSA, but other specific federal/state programs may be available.

Financial Aid Given by University Itself

Funds that come from the school itself are usually offered with your admission. You are automatically considered for this type of aid most of the time, so look for it in your acceptance packet! In general, colleges are more willing to give merit-based than need-based aid to international students. You must demonstrate significant academic achievement and provide documents like translated transcripts and TOEFL scores to the school’s international office.

Outside Financial Aid

This type of financial aid consists mostly of need-based and merit-based scholarships; however, grants and loans are also possibilities.* Compared to other types of financial aid, outside scholarships are easier to acquire for international students. Keep in mind that you can apply for outside scholarships from both your home country. A lot of international organizations, such as Foundation for Global Scholars and International Baccalaureate program, give out sizable scholarships to outstanding selected applicants.

May’s advice:

  • If you are set on requesting for financial aid, I recommend looking through each school’s international financial aid policy (usually found under undergraduate financial aid category). Most schools provide a list of financial aid options for international students. Reading different schools’ policies may affect your priority and choices in the application process.
  • Also, in-state public schools allow international students to attend for in-state tuition if they’ve lived there for a certain number of years. Again, look through your school’s policy and submit documents (residency affidavit) by designated deadlines.
  • Work study programs aren’t open to international students at most schools. However, some departments or professors might allow students if they are unable to find students to fill those positions.

*For the sake of your future financial health, please, please, PLEASE consider scholarships and grants before giving up to student loans.

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