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Financing U.S. Education

Moving onto financial aspects – one big question is “how can I afford studying in the US?”

Education in the United States may appear expensive, but it offers excellent value for the money invested. It is important to start financial planning at least 12 months before you plan on starting college in the US.

Assessing Personal Funds

The first step is figuring out how much your family can afford to support you.
Try to raise as much money as possible from family sources, since most scholarships, if available, only pay for part of the educational costs.

Identifying Financial Assistance

All types of financial assistance for international students are highly competitive.

Funding from colleges

  • Don’t assume all colleges offer financial assistance to international students.
  • In fact, less than half of colleges offer “need-based” financial aid for international students. “Need-based” aid means assistance based on a family’s ability to pay. So doing research helps!
  • Financial aid is more rare at state, or public colleges and colleges that offer professional training (like engineering, etc.) Private liberal arts colleges – some of which are among the best schools in the country, but which many people outside of the U.S. haven’t heard of – tend to offer more aid to international students.
  • Some colleges offer talented athletes aid as a means of paying for their education.
  • In some cases, you may be eligible to take out loans to help pay for school.
  • Employment – international students may work up to twenty hours per week to  earn money for pizza, trips, etc.

Reducing Educational Costs

  • Best buys – Look for colleges that offer you the highest quality education at the lowest cost. Remember to factor in how much financial aid a school gives to international students!
  • Accelerated Programs – In some cases, you may be able to get a 4-year degree in 3 years by taking extra courses or transferring IB (International Baccalaureate) credits.
  • Tuition waivers – based on first year grades, some schools offer partial tuition waivers. Doing well academically could really pay off.
  • Living expenses – “Resident Assistants” – RAs live in dormitories and serve as a go-between for the administration and students living in the dorms. Usually get housing paid for, or receive a stipend.

Can you afford a U.S. education?

International students get financial aid at many colleges.