International students face many unique challenges when applying to colleges in the United States. While domestic students are confronted solely with the college application process alone, factors such as the likely language barrier, the near-certain cultural barrier, and – perhaps most importantly – stringent visa requirements make the process all that much more intimidating for would-be international students. Indeed, this unique burden seems all that much more onerous thanks to the solvency requirements for international students – but, fortunately, appearances can be deceiving.
F-1 visa applicants are required to submit a valid Certificate of Eligibility in order to apply for a student visa. This form, also known as the I-20, is the formal document that international students need in order to apply for a student visa. The document can only be issued by accredited colleges and universities and cannot be issued until applicants have been admitted to the school, their level of English proficiency has been assessed, and they have satisfied the school’s funding requirements. This last requirement, also known as the solvency requirements for international students, should be the least of an international student’s worries.
Solvency requirements are designed to prove to the school in question that applicants have sufficient funding available to cover the costs of their programs. While international students are not eligible for many of the government programs and scholarships (e.g., Pell Grants) that domestic students have access to, international students can still avail themselves of many other mechanisms to fill the gap. Because solvency requirements for international students need not come from bank holdings alone these requirements are not as difficult to satisfy as many international students may think. International students may instead use any combination of school-sponsored or third-party scholarships and fellowships, as well as a wide variety of international private loans in order to prove their solvency. As a result of these and other options, solvency requirements are perhaps the last thing international students need to worry about!