As an international student planning to study in the USA, there’s no doubt that you’ve already started to contemplate the financial implications of this decision, and you are probably wondering what your options are for financing the cost of studying outside your home country; and you’re quite right to do so – as you may already have realised, there is little information about sources of financial aid for international students who want to study in the US, and often the information that you can find is unclear or even misleading – especially when it comes to unscrupulous lenders (or even loan scams).
But don’t let this put you off your search. We have created this extremely useful post to give you as much information as we can to help you fulfill your dream of studying in the USA and finding the funding to enable you to do that.
Here at International Student Loan we recommend that you first talk to your college or university before pursuing any other alternative funding sources. They may be able to guide you to their own funding opportunities or specific contacts that they have established themselves that are able to assist non-US residents studying in the US.
There are 3 main offices you should contact at your university:
- The Financial Aid office
- The department or faculty office of your chosen program of study
- The office for international students (often called the Office of International Student Services)
Much support for international students in graduate programs in the US is provided by the universities and colleges themselves in the form of teaching assistantships and research assistantships. These are often based on academic merit and not on financial need. In most cases you would be required to pass the Test of Spoken English (TSE) in order to qualify for a teaching assistantship, but check with the school you’re interested in.
Some foreign schools have exchange programs with schools in the US. These exchange programs often include financial aid for the students. If you are already studying at a university in your home country and would like to find out about this type of exchange program the office for international student services at your home university would be the best place to contact.
Once you have established the financial aid that you can access through your chosen university or college, it is time to start looking further afield for other, alternative sources, too.
Such resources might include:
Yourself and Your Family
According to the Association of International Educators, more than two-thirds of international students in the US receive help from their families, in addition to their own resources, to fund their study in the US. Whatever outside help and financial aid you receive, you will also need to use your own funds and probably rely on support from family and friends to pursue your dream of an education in the USA.
Organizations in your home country
One of the best sources of financial aid for international students comes from organizations in their home country that want to invest in and develop the education of talented students, recognizing the benefits that an international education can provide.
Your own government may provide financial aid (often on the condition that the recipient of the aid returns to their home country on completion of their studies). We suggest you make contact with your country’s ministry of education and or ministry of culture.
Private organizations such as businesses, religious groups, and charitable foundations may also offer support in the form of financial aid for international students – often this is linked to the background of the student or the chosen field of study. We advise you to search online for these opportunities, and speak to local educational institutions who may be able to refer you to these programs.
You can use scholarship databases such as International Education Financial Aid and International Scholarships. These databases are free to use and contain information on the scholarships, grants, and awards that are available for international students.
Some of the organizations that offer funding for international students studying in the United States are:
- The United Nations
- the Organization of American States (OAS)
- The International Maritime Organization
- The International Telecommunications Union
- The League of Red Cross Societies
- The Soros Foundation
- The World Health Organization
- The World Council of Churches.
These awards are extremely competitive and are mostly for graduate students rather than undergraduates.
You usually have to apply for this type of funding from your home country, so if you have already embarked on your educational journey in the US you may not be eligible. It is therefore important for you to research these opportunities well before you travel.
The Fulbright Program works two ways: U.S. citizens may receive funding to go to a foreign country and non-U.S. citizens may come to the U.S. (Foreign Student Program, Visiting Scholar Program, Teacher Exchange Program, etc.).
In order to be considered for Fulbright programs, foreign candidates must demonstrate exceptional academic achievement, leadership potential, flexibility and the ability to interact successfully in the USA.
The Fulbright Foreign Student Program enables graduate students, young professionals, and artists from abroad to conduct research and study in the United States
Fulbright grants are offered in many academic disciplines, but not in clinical medical research (research involving patient contact). Fields of study cover mathematics and sciences, the fine arts, humanities, and social sciences.
Applicants are required to take the TOEFL and GRE or GMAT exams. Professional education, such as medical schools, is not eligible. Fulbright students are required to be on J-1 visas for the entire duration of their sponsorship.
You should contact your nearest US embassy or consulate, the Fulbright Commission office, or educational advising center for information about applying to the Fulbright Program in your country.
Of course, we couldn’t write a post on our own site about international financial aid and not mention international student loans. International student loans are available to help students cover the cost of their education so they can attend the US college or university of their choice.
With international student loans, students can borrow up to the total cost of their education minus any financial aid received. Our loans work for all nationalities, and students can apply from anywhere in the world including from their host country.
You can check what is available to you by using our international student loan comparison tool.
Interested in finding out about some common myths regarding international student loans?
Do you remember our post about the InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest? As you may remember, students from around the world submitted a short video sharing a proposed study abroad trip or for those already studying abroad, a trip they would like to take. The deadline was on October 13th and today we are ready to announce the the Viewers’ Choice winner along with the 14 finalist!
We are excited to announce this year’s Viewers’ Choice Award video: Making the US my new home where Sebastian Bayona. As an international student from Peru currently studying at Oklahoma State University, he shares his experience about what it means to move abroad and leave your friends, family, and home behind. He talks about how important it is to overcome homesickness, and how he’s really enjoyed the experience of making the US his new home.
Be sure to check out this great video, along with the other finalist videos. Every year, the contest gets bigger and bigger, and this year we had even more entries than last year! This year is not going to be an easy decision for our InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest judges as it’s now in their hands to choose who is going to be the winner of the 2018 Travel Video Contest. Stay tuned during International Education Week to find out who will be awarded $4,000 to help their travels abroad.
If you’re interested in entering this Travel Video Contest next year make sure you sign up to receive the latest alerts from InternationalStudent.com.
Out of Your Comfort Zone
Maybe you’ve already decided to break out of your comfort zone by applying to study abroad in the USA. But what if you could benefit even further from this opportunity? 100,000 Strong in the Americas, and other similar programs, provide great opportunities to students studying across the Americas to participate in field work abroad. This blog will give you all the information you need to know to find the right grant for you and take part in a life-changing experience.
What is 100,000 Strong?
100,000 Strong in the Americas is an Innovation Fund that encourages students to think of new ideas and make them happen. 100,000 Strong is funded by the U.S. government, the private sector, non-profits, and foundations, including Santander and Coca Cola. These organizations have participated in this collaborative program to provide students with the opportunity to apply for grants and make their dream a reality. Students can join the community and view all grant opportunities available in countries across the Americas. If your degree focus, passion or work relates to the grants available, you can apply for the grant and could have to opportunity to join other students in field work abroad.
Why is this a good opportunity?
Just because you’ve made it to the USA to study doesn’t mean you should neglect all the other great opportunities around you. Not only can you study at a great home institution but you can apply for grants and scholarships to participate in exchanges. Applying for a grant could give you the opportunity to travel and learn more from field research. By participating in field work in a different country, you can gain valuable experience that you cannot always achieve from behind a desk. Traveling to a new country helps you to experience a new culture and way of life. Beyond this, focusing in depth on a project related to your degree can help you learn better. You will have the experience to work with other passionate students in a professional manner. Moreover, breaking out of your comfort zone can show innovation and make you a good candidate in your future professional career.
Not only will you be expanding your horizons and pushing your boundaries by participating in an exchange program, but you could be helping others. Most of the programs focus on humanitarian action such as creating innovative ways to help the environment or to support local communities. So if you think you’re the right candidate for the this type of program, you can check out the grants available on their website.
You can register free with 100,000 Strong’s Innovation Network, and are required to register to apply for any grant opportunities. By registering, all new grants will be available for you to view and apply to.
Ever dreamed of studying abroad, but find that you don’t have the money? InternationalStudent.com’s 2017 Travel Video Contest is now open, and accepting your video submissions now through October 13th. One lucky winner will go home with $4,000 USD to help them pursue their dream of studying abroad or to take a special trip during their time studying abroad.
Here’s how! To enter, submit your video of less than 4 minutes about where you want to study and why. This video contest is open to any international student, study abroad student, or student interested in studying overseas. If you are currently studying abroad, then we want to hear about the trip you want to take, and how this money will help you get there.
A video? That’s right, we want to hear your story, and trip you want to go on, in less than 4 minutes. It can be sad, silly, funny, or inspiring! Whether you are showing off your story skills, singing skills, graphic design, or animation skills, we want to hear your story. Your video should be high quality, interesting, creative and explain why you want to study abroad.
Prizes! This year’s grand prize is $4,000, and there will be other prizes as well! Second place will get $500 and third place will be awarded $250. There will also be a Viewer’s Choice Award of $1,000 – so make sure you tell your friends (voting is open from 10/18/2017-11/3/2017)!
Who is InternationalStudent.com? InternationalStudent.com has been hosting the Travel Video Contest since 2006, helping students to finance their international education. Before you get that video camera out, be sure to read the rules and regulations and meet this year’s panel of judges. You can even see previous winners to get those creative juices going!
Enter the Contest Here>>
We are proud to announce this year’s InternationalStudent.com Travel Video Contest Winners for 2016. With 159 entries, it was a difficult decision for the judges. The caliber of the videos this year were exceptional, and reflected the talent and creativity from students around the world. After much deliberation, we are excited to announce:
$4,000 Grand Prize Winner: Mariana Osorio with “This Magic World”
Second Place Winner: Siti Fatimah with “Dream, Believe, and Make it Happen”
Third Place Winner: Michael de Beer with “The Urban Archi”
Congratulate our new winners as they take home their prizes and be sure to also check out the Viewer’s Choice Award winner, Marifer & Carlos, on their video, “A Couple of MBA’s.”
Follow this year’s winner, Mariana, as she writes about her experience as an international student in New York. She will be blogging this year on her very own Study in the USA blog, so be sure to take a look and connect with her.
InternationalStudent.com just announced both the finalist and Viewers’ Choice Award winner for the 2016 Travel Video Contest. With 159 entries from students all around the world, it was no easy decision to narrow it down to just 14 finalists.
The Viewer’s Choice Award winner is Carlos Roberto Gonzalez Meyer’s A Couple of MBA’s who tells the story about him and his girlfriend’s dream to study in Canada. Cute, funny, and inspiring, you won’t want to miss this couple’s upcoming adventure. Watch their video if you haven’t already, and congratulate them on winning $1,000 to help make their dreams come true!
Not only will they get passed to the finalist round, but they’ll join 13 other finalist for their chance to win the grand prize of $4,000. Stay tuned for International Education Week where on November 18th, InternationalStudent.com will announce the judges’ winner – and if you haven’t already, watch the finalist videos and let us know which one you like best.
Now that you have chosen what university will be your home for the next 4 years, you can start the student loan application process. It may seem intimidating, but here’s a guide to help you get an idea of what you have to do and how to do it.
- Financial Aid & Cost of Attendance
This is the first step once you have decided what university you will be attending. If you have received any scholarships or financial aid, make sure to get in contact with the financial aid office to get an updated version of your personal cost of attendance. When applying for a student loan, the maximum amount you are eligible for is equal to your cost of attendance. This will help you calculate the amount you are going to be asking for in loans. In addition, make sure that if you are going to need a co-signer you have that person informed about when you will be submitting the application, being that they will be filling out the application form as well.
- Choosing a Loan
Finding a loan can seem like the hardest part, but that’s where we come in. With our International Student Loan Comparison Tool, you can save time trying to find the right loan. There are some important factors to consider when choosing a loan such as the repayment period or interest rate. It may sound complicated, but we have some tips to help you navigate this process.
- Filling out the Application
Nowadays, loan applications can be submitted via the internet making the process a lot easier. You will need to complete the online application with your co-signer or they may be required to submit a separate online application. If this is the case, be sure to provide them with a correct reference number or application number to avoid any mistakes with the paperwork. In order to make the application process as easy as possible, collect all the following documents and information beforehand:
- School information, including school name, major, grade, and school term for which you need the loan
- Social Security number (as an international student, this may not be applicable)
- Telephone numbers
- Current addresses (home and school)
- Personal reference information and phone number
- Gross income information
- Residence information, including whether you own or rent, and the monthly housing payment
- Requested loan amount
- Contact from Lender
During the application process, you will receive paperwork that may be completely foreign to you. The most important piece of paper is the Promissory Note, which is just a special name for the contract. The Promissory Note is the contract you sign stating to the lender that you will pay back the loan in full and under what specific conditions, in other words the fine print. Want to be up to speed on loan jargon? Check out this great video explaining the loan terms you’ll be coming across!
After all the research, paperwork, and possible headaches this is the moment you have been waiting for. Disbursement is what lenders call the process of giving you the loan money. Student loans are typically sent directly to your school which then uses the money to pay for what is charged to your student account for that semester. Although the process should be automatic, you should keep on top of the dates because your school will have a final payment date and if your loan is not received by that date, it could cause you problems.
Just like with the college application process, dates are important! Check out our financial aid timeline for some helpful tips.
A few months ago, we published a blog discussing how Nigerian international students were being affected by low oil prices. The drop in world prices has caused the Nigerian government to cut back on international education sponsorships. Unfortunately, it seems that the Saudi Arabian government is going down the same path and being forced to cut spending for international education. Read the rest of this entry »
Recently, many people around the world have been celebrating and appreciating the drop in oil prices. For many, their day-to-day consists of filling a car full of gasoline, which until recently was proving to be quite expensive. Although lower gas prices benefit the general public, it is having some very negative consequences on the Nigerian state and its international students around the world.
Like many countries, Nigeria’s government and private industry have made it one of their priorities to foster their citizens’ access to international education. About 40% of Nigerian students who are abroad receive some type of funding from a public or private entity in their home country. How is this related to Nigeria, you ask?
Nigeria is one of the world’s oil-rich countries, with about 70 to 80% of its wealth coming from the oil and gas industry. So falling prices is taking a big hit on the economic stability of the country. Nigerian students who are abroad are also feeling the repercussions. Most students who receive either public or private funding are promised a living stipend which can include money to cover the cost of housing, food, transportation, etc. However, since the latter part of 2015 there have been accounts of Nigerian students currently studying abroad who have not received any of the promised aid for tuition and living expenses. In Canada, a report came out stating that about 240 Nigerian students in 14 different universities had been left without aid from the RSSDA Scholarship Program for more than 11 months and were accumulating debt. The RSSDA is a an organization run and owned by the Rivers State in Nigeria, who later admitted to owing Canadian universities a total of about $2.5 million.
With this debt growing by the minute, Nigerian students who have found themselves in a very difficult situation. Many of them were promised aid and their families can not support the cost of their education abroad. Due to this, many students are being asked by the Nigerian industries to return to complete their education in Nigerian universities.
Tax season has already begun and many international students are not aware that they must file a US tax return as well – even if they’ve never earned any money in the US. All students must file their US taxes on or before April 18, 2016. For most international students, this process will be easy and straightforward. Read on to see what you need to submit, as well as helpful resources in case you need assistance
Does Everyone Need to File?
As part of your visa requirements all international students are required to file taxes. The forms you will need to submit are dependent on whether you have made any income or not.
Regardless of whether you’ve earned income or not, all international students and their dependents must file Form 8843. If you are in the US with dependents, this form must be filed by your dependents independently (which includes a separate envelope!).
What is Eligible for Taxation?
If, as an international student, you have been receiving an income in the US, then you will need to pay taxes on it. Below are 3 common sources of income for international students:
- Wages from a job in the United States (on-campus, off-campus, OPT job)
- A scholarship from an American organization
- Interest made from an American bank account
For a complete list of what could be considered a potential income source be sure to check the IRS website. If you have received income in the last calendar year, you will also need to file Form 1040NR-EZ.
For more in-depth information regarding how to file your taxes and what forms you’ll need to submit, be sure to read the Student Tax Return page from InternationalStudent.com.