If you missed all or part of our recent Securing Financial Aid for International Students webinar, then this recap post is for you! Continue reading for a summary of the key points and tips our panelists shared during the webinar, as well as answers to some of the frequently asked financial aid questions.
What financial aid is available to international students?
Financial aid at U.S. higher education institutions is not solely available to U.S. citizens. International students can obtain several forms of financial aid, including:
- Private loans
- Graduate assistantships (work/study programs)
- Research assistantships and fellowships
Where should international students look for financial aid?
Our webinar panelists, Sara Varela-Acevedo, Colin Wiggins, and Daniel Kristo, emphasized that financial aid is institution-specific, meaning each school will have different scholarship, assistantship, and funding options. Some schools may offer scholarships for students from a particular region of the world whereas others may offer scholarships for certain areas of study, such as science, math, or technology.
A good place to start your search is the school’s website, where you will be able to see if they have an online scholarship database or a financial aid resources page.
Also, do not hesitate to reach out to the school’s admissions office or financial aid office so you can establish relations with those offices. Plus, the admissions and financial aid counselors are happy to help or at least point you to the right resource.
In an effort to diversify their student populations, many colleges offer scholarship packages or financial aid programs specifically targeted at international students, so be sure to ask the admissions or financial aid counselors if such programs exist at the school you want to attend.
An invaluable financial aid resource for international students is EducationUSA, a division of the U.S. State Department.
EducationUSA has offices in cities all over the world, and on their website, you can find your local EducationUSA advising center. If you are unable to find an EducationUSA advising center in your city, you can set up an email or Skype consultation with an advisor, who can help you find funding resources and answer any visa questions. EducationUSA is a free resource, so take advantage of all that they have to offer!
What are the best financial aid options for international students?
At most U.S. universities, the majority of financial aid comes in the form of scholarships and merit-based grants. Some schools offer need-based scholarships to international students, meaning they offer scholarships based upon your financial situation or need; however, other universities offer strictly merit-based scholarships to international students.
Merit-based scholarships and grants are based on academic achievement. To apply for these scholarships, you need a strong academic transcript with high grades and good TOEFL scores. Generally, a 3.2 is the minimum GPA for merit-based scholarships.
Scholarships, assistantships, fellowships, grants, and sponsorships are all great ways to partially or fully fund your education in the U.S. However, if you need immediate funding and cannot obtain other forms of financial aid, you may have to take out a loan. And if you pay for your education with a loan from a banking institution in the U.S., remember that upon completing your studies, you will be required to pay back the loan with interest.
Apply early for all financial aid, whether it comes in the form of a scholarship, a private loan, a sponsorship funded by your home country’s government, or a graduate assistantship. The earlier you apply, the better, because financial aid is a finite resource!
If you would like to learn more about the financial aid options available to international students and how to apply, sign up here to watch the full-on demand webinar.
We regularly host webinars on a variety of topics relevant to international students and immigrant professionals. Check out our future and past webinars on our Events page to stay informed and up-to-date on all WES events!