Tips for International Students Funding a Degree Abroad
August 30th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel
The fact that the cost of a college education is rising – to the tune of an annualized average increase of 6.2% each year for the last 20 years – should come as no surprise to college-bound students in the United States. Although this knowledge is widely disparaged it is also common and, as a result, many domestic students have taken steps to deal with the increased costs. For international students funding a degree abroad, ever-increasing costs may come as an altogether unwelcome shock. Fortunately for them, however, there are many options available that can help international students funding a degree abroad. Two of the most important are gift aid and private loans.
Gift aid is any form of financial aid (like a scholarship or grant) that does not need to be paid back. Unfortunately, while some forms of gift aid – like merit based scholarships – are open to international students, not all forms of gift aid are. The reason for this, although clear, is no less disadvantageous to international students. While there are three main sources of grants available to domestic students – government, private organizations, and the colleges themselves – government-derived grants comprise the largest slice of the pie. Unfortunately, while the remaining two are often viable options for students studying abroad in the US, some of the most famous government-backed forms of gift aid (like the Pell Grant) are open to domestic students only.
Fortunately international student loans – which are made to students by banks or finance companies rather than a government agency – remain a strong option for international students funding a degree abroad. Although these private loans often have a slightly higher cost than their governmental equivalents there are otherwise quite similar and the requirements are far less stringent. In fact, the main requirement for many private loans is a cosigner who is a United States citizen or permanent resident. With viable gift aid prospects and private loan options in mind, then, international students should have no trouble funding their dream of higher education in the US.