As many have noted here in the Student Union, getting admitted to study as an international student at a U.S. university is only part of the battle. Just as important, and as challenging, can be finding the right mix of financial aid, loans and scholarships to actually be able to do it!
Let’s be frank: most American colleges and universities are expensive. This is true of both the large, state-run institutions like the University of Georgia as well as for the smaller and often more elite private schools like Ohio’s Kenyon College.
But challenges can be overcome, and every years tens of thousands of international students find a way to fund their study here. These are just a few tips and links to help in your search – but remember, it’s almost always true that one of the first stops you should make is with your school’s financial aid offices.
- First, do your homework. Before you even go online and begin your search, you must get your own financial and scholastic records in order. That means academic transcripts, financial resources, estimated budgets and earnings and all manner of other annoying paperwork. In short: schools are going to want to know your grades and studies, how much you have and how much you’ll likely spend, so it’s best to do it first.
- Consider cost before applying. Higher education costs vary greatly school to school, so when you’re thinking about what city you’d like to live in, and which school has the best program in your field, give some thought to its cost. As a general rule, large state-funded institutions cost a little less but have less money available for financial aid. While small, private schools can get costly, many times they provide more assistance. Also, some schools like to recruit international students because of all they add to a campus, so those schools are likely to make more money available to help out.
- Try and save. This probably goes without saying, but any money you can save before arriving in the U.S. is going to help. That may be easier said than done, but one way might be to take a little time before actually coming to America. Many schools allow students to defer admittance for a year, and some take advantage of that by spending that year working and saving. Just an idea.
- Research, research, research. Once you settle on a specific school and gain admittance, contact their financial aid office as soon as you can. (If you can’t find your school’s office, this website may be able to help.) Every American school has such an office to help students find scholarships, loans, government grants and even employment. In fact, most students fund their schooling with a mix of all of the above, as well as what money they have from work or their family. But remember: scholarships and grants don’t have to be repaid, but loans do, so don’t be too eager to load up on loans that may burden you for many years to come.
It can be hard, but there are many ways to fund your American education. Keep at it, talk to as many people as you can, and don’t give up. Below are just a few websites that can provide much more information as well: