How can an international student finance their education in the USA?
April 25th, 2019 by Al C

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.

Private US Organizations and Sponsors

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.

International Organizations

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)
  • AMIDEAST
  • 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.

Fulbright Program

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.

Loans

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?


Find the Right Scholarship for You
August 17th, 2018 by Felicity Bradstock

If you need financial support to study abroad it’s important to find the right scholarship for you. There are several different scholarships to which you can apply, but as you search through the various options you’ll realize each has different requirements. Below are just a few categories that scholarships often put requirements and limitations around.

Subject-based Scholarships

Many institutions and organizations offer scholarships based on the course you’re studying. It is common for fields that require greater numbers of graduate workers to incentivize study in that subject area. For example, some states or institutions may be lacking in qualified specialist nurses or criminal justice and finance managers, therefore providing grant opportunities such as the Global Nursing Research Grant.

Scholarships in specialist fields encourage students to make their studies more tailored to their future career by alleviating financial pressure. Therefore, graduates studying more general subjects, such as literature or history, may have a better chance of finding a scholarship based on different criteria.

Institution Specific Scholarships

Each institution has its own scholarship(s). Many universities provide financial support to students based on family income or academic success and potential. The criteria for these types of scholarships is usually to show you are a candidate of distinction – to have great grades, experience in an internship or volunteering program, to have extra-curricular hobbies and to show the institution what you can bring to the department by studying there. As well as university-wide grants, some departments offer scholarships only available to students within that specific department, reducing the competition.

Check out the rankings to see which institutions offered the most financial aid to their students last year.

Talent-based Scholarships

If you have a specific talent or extra-curricular interest you can apply for a talent-based scholarship. Many universities and companies offer grants to students with extraordinary skills in sports, the arts, and other areas outside of major work. You will be expected to prove your talent and be part of the sports team or music department, as well as maintaining excellent grades, to be eligible for this type of scholarship.

Company-based Scholarships

Companies, particularly big multinationals and law firms, often offer scholarships for students who intend to work in the company after they graduate, or as an intern. This is particularly common for MBA students (Master of Business Administration).

Consider internships with big companies near the institution you are going to attend to get your foot in the door. Also reach out and contact the department you are interested in for your future career to see if they have any grant opportunities. The worst they can do is say no, at best they may offer you a grant, internship or part-time job.

International Student Scholarships

Maybe surprisingly, some grants are provided for international students to gain valuable life experience by studying abroad. That’s right, you could be paid simply for attending an institution in the US as a foreign student. Employers recognize that traveling out of your comfort zone, learning to study in more than one language, and engaging both academically and culturally, are great qualities in employees.

 

Visit the Study Abroad Scholarship search engine for a comprehensive list of scholarship opportunities for international students.


The Price of Oil on Nigerian Students
March 23rd, 2016 by Lette Berhe

nigeriaRecently, 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.


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