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?


Top 5 Ways International Students Fund Their US Education
December 3rd, 2015 by Lette Berhe

On November 16th, the Institute of International Education published its 2015 Open Doors Report. The Open Doors Report is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and provides an in-depth look into the changing trends of international students who study in the U.S. and of American students who study abroad. This year’s report showed that in the 2014/2015 academic year, the number of international students attending U.S. universities reached a record high of 974,926- nearly 1 million students. This is a 10% increase, which is the highest growth rate in 35 years. The top 3 countries of origin, in order, were China, India, and South Korea. Students from these three countries made up more than 50% of all international students in the U.S. In addition to the above mentioned, there was significant growth in the number of international students coming from Brazil, Kuwait, and Nigeria. With all these growing numbers the real question is, how exactly do they fund their U.S. programs? Below are the top 5 ways internationals students funded their international education in the U.S.

  1. Personal and Family
    The Open Doors Report shows that in the 2014/2015 academic year personal and family finances were the primary source of funding for about 65% of international students. What does this mean exactly? This includes any personal savings you or your parents may have that are then used towards your higher education. Personal loans could also fall under this category, being that once you have received the loan it is part of your personal finances. It is always best to plan ahead and save as much money as you can, so that if you need to take out a loan it is the lowest amount possible. For more information on how to go about budgeting and saving click here!
  2. U.S. College and University
    The second most utilized source of funding came from U.S. colleges and universities. This year’s report shows that the following eight institutions were hosts to more than 10,000 international students: New York University, University of Southern California, Columbia University, Arizona State University, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, Northeastern University, Purdue University – West Lafayette, and University of California – Los Angeles. With such high numbers of incoming students, it is not a coincidence. There are many universities that promote the influx of international students and offer financial aid through scholarships or grants. Once you decide to study abroad it is important to do your research about what the different universities can offer you.
  3. Foreign Government and University
    It is no coincidence that countries such as Kuwait and Brazil have had an incredible increase in the number of students in the U.S. The government of these two countries have been working hard to provide opportunities for their citizens to have access to an international education. In Kuwait the Ministry of Higher Education sponsors undergraduate and graduate students who wish to pursue programs abroad and in Brazil the government offers the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program for students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. With each new year more and more government programs are being created to promote international education.
  4. Current Employment
    Although it is possible to find and receive financial aid, sometimes it is not enough and a part-time job can help with any unexpected costs that may arise during your time abroad. Many international students are under the impression that they will not be able to work during their time in the U.S., but this is false. It is true, that your employment options may be limited, but it is possible. Take a look at our section on working in the U.S. for more information.
  5. Foreign Private Sponsor
    Before more and more government agencies were placing international education at the forefront, there were private businesses or organizations offering a bit of help to those interested in going abroad. Although a smaller percentage of students, one percent, made use of such sponsorships it is always good to be aware of your options to not miss out on any good opportunities.

Think you might need an international student loan? Check out our loan information page to see what we can offer you!


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