So you’re looking at attending school in the U.S., but you’re not sure how to fund it. It can be tricky to find financial aid for U.S. colleges and universities. While international students can’t receive U.S. federal student aid like federal loans or work-study, there are still options available to help pay for higher education. You might be eligible for financial aid allocated for international students, as well as scholarships, grants, and even private student loans.
Cost of attendance to study in the U.S.
Paying for higher education in the U.S. has become increasingly expensive. But being an international student adds an extra layer of costs, such as student visa fees, health insurance, and travel to and from your home country. The cost of undergraduate and postgraduate studies varies between institutions. But in general, public colleges tend to charge lower tuition rates, while private universities typically have higher sticker prices. Luckily, there are tons of options out there to help you fund your higher education.
FAFSA® for international students
Can international students apply for FAFSA®? The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA®, is intended for U.S. citizens and certain eligible noncitizens to determine what financial aid they can receive from the federal government or schools. While international students are not eligible for federal aid from the FAFSA®, it’s still important to file the form. Why? Some schools may require it to determine where you can receive aid from. Without a U.S. Social Security number, you can’t submit the form online, but you can (and should!) print out a copy and submit it via mail. The earlier you send it in, the better, because some aid is distributed on a first come, first-served basis.
Some schools may require forms other than the FAFSA®, such as the International Student Financial Aid Application (ISFAA), or school-specific forms. Before filling out one of these forms, contact each school to find out which form they prefer. Keep in mind that not all schools offer international financial assistance, which might be an important factor in where to apply. Note that while you may not be eligible for U.S. federal aid, your home country’s government may offer aid to students looking to study abroad in the U.S.
Scholarships for international students
If federal aid is not an option, how do international students pay for college? Scholarships play a large role. They are a fantastic source of money for school that you don’t have to pay back. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of international student scholarships available, including those for specific fields of study, sports, hobbies, volunteerism, heritage, and more. To apply for a scholarship, you’ll likely have to answer some personal questions, write an essay, or even make a video, but your efforts could pay off enormously. And make sure to pay attention to smaller scholarships. Scholarships for $100 or $200 can add up and help cover your books for a semester.
However, keep an eye out for scholarship scams. You should never, ever have to pay a fee to apply for a scholarship.