How Does Financial Aid Work for International Students in the US

As an international student, I’m all too familiar with the never-ending scavenger hunt for financial aid. Let’s face it, international students don’t have as many options when it comes to university financing as in-state students do. This isn’t time to give up just yet though; sure, we can’t fill a FAFSA form, but there are a lot of other outlets we can explore that might help us plump up our budget after all.

The first street to explore would be international organizations that exist solely for the purpose of sponsoring defenseless international students like us. Because these grants are extremely competitive (they’re open to everyone), it’s vital that you apply with time to spare and put extra effort when it comes to impressing. Also, many times these institutions will need you to be in your native country when applying in case an interview has to be scheduled, so, like I mentioned before, make sure you don’t apply in a rush. Some of these incredibly remarkable and helpful conglomerates are The United Nations and the Fulbright Commission.

If that doesn’t work out, or it does, but you’re in need of more aid, the second option to check out would be to be funded by your native country. Many countries offer certain scholarship programs for young citizens of theirs that wish to pursue a higher education in a country like, say, the United States. If you’re one of those lucky citizens, this would be a great opportunity to finance your studies; keep in mind however that sometimes there’s a compromise to be made (maybe they’ll ask you to come back to your home country after your studies) so make sure you read all the fine print.

Yet another pathway that could be thoroughly explored is finding scholarships within your future university. Although many colleges fail to offer financial aid for international students (why won’t they let us fill a FAFSA?!), many also attempt to balance the unfairness out by offering a bunch of diverse scholarship and grant opportunities for the same people. By simply scrolling through the school’s scholarship page and spotting a few that you could be eligible for, you could save thousands of dollars. Most of the universities that do this are private however, because most public colleges have very limited financial aid budgets.

Worst comes to worst, international students can also apply for a bank loan in order to complete their studies. The one requirement that must be fulfilled in order to do so is to have a permanent resident or citizen of the United States co-sign and vouch for them, which for some is unfulfillable. However, if the requirement is met, you can virtually borrow as much money as you need in order to complete the degree.

Well, there you have it, we might not have a myriad of options, but we still have quite a few. Add on a steady part-time job, and you’re set to finish four years of studies!

Photo Credit: Geralt

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