Financial Aid for International Students in USA: Where to Start?

Financial Aid for International Students

A considerable number of international students choose to further their education in the United States. This is not surprising, as this country is a major educational center with world-renowned colleges and universities. However, studying abroad has a number of important problems that require a meaningful solution, not the least of which being the monetary aspect. In this article, we will examine different ways to obtain financial aid for international students in USA, outline the criteria for eligibility, and give useful advice on what to bear in mind when looking for funding support as a foreign student.

Further in the article:

Determining Eligibility: Who Can Receive Financial Aid?

All financial aid options have one aspect in common: students from other countries must meet clearly defined requirements. Most often, these relate to the student’s:

  • Status of enrollment

The majority of financial assistance opportunities, particularly those offered by universities and foreign organizations, are designed for full-time students. Due to the nature of the aid and its goal of supporting comprehensive education, these options are often not available for part-time students.

  • Visa type: F-1, J-1, or other applicable visas

Foreign educands in the USA often hold F-1 or J-1 visas. These visa types are generally eligible for different types of funding assistance. To increase your chances of obtaining money, it is critical to investigate the particular options that correspond with your visa status.

  • Academic merit and achievements

It’s a common practice for educational institutions and various associations to offer scholarships and grants based on learners’ academic achievements. High standardized test scores, outstanding academic records, and notable achievements can significantly enhance your eligibility for merit-based funding assistance.

  • Financial situation

Financial necessity is a frequent criterion for accessing financial aid for international students. Universities and organizations often evaluate a student’s financial situation through documents like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS Profile), and International Student Financial Aid Application (ISFAA). These forms assist in determining how much monetary assistance a student needs to meet their learning costs.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a mandatory form that eligible individuals seeking government support for their higher education expenses must fill out. This form gathers data regarding the financial circumstances of students and their families. The submission of FAFSA typically occurs each year, with the application period commencing on October 1st for the subsequent academic year.

The College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS Profile) is utilized only by particular educational institutions and scholarship programs. Its major objective is to gather more detailed financial information beyond what the FAFSA covers. It considers a larger variety of financial aspects, such as property equity, healthcare costs, etc. The CSS Profile is often required by private institutions that offer institutional financial aid for international student. The form submission comes with a fee.

The International Student Financial Aid Application (ISFAA) is specifically designed for overseas learners who are seeking funding assistance to study in the United States. Since these students might not be eligible for federal aid, the ISFAA assists colleges and universities to confine their funding requirements. Similar to FAFSA and CSS Profile, the ISFAA collects information about the student’s financial situation. This form is used to determine the amount of aid a student with another country of origin might obtain from the institution.

When applying for monetary support, it’s important to be accurate and honest when filling out these forms. Any discrepancies or misinformation can affect the amount of funding you receive. Additionally, deadlines for submitting these forms vary, so it’s crucial to stay informed about the specific deadlines for the institutions you’re applying to.

The process and requirements can change over time, so it’s recommended to refer to the official websites of FAFSA, CSS Profile, the ISFAA, and any relevant institutions for the most up-to-date information and guidance.

Financial Aid Options for Overseas Learners

In the United States, monetary assistance for foreign learners is available from a variety of sources. These can assist students with reducing the financial pressure of studying abroad and provide them with the opportunity to thrive academically.

Financial support from the home country

Some states provide scholarships and grants to their residents who want to pursue higher learning in America. Inquire with your homeland’s education bureau or relevant institutions to explore relevant sources of financial aid. A few honorable mentions include:

The Brazil Scientific Mobility Undergraduate Program (BSMP) is a grant-funded initiative for Brazilian students interested in studying Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in the USA. The program is designed to enhance the academic and research capabilities of Brazilian students in these critical disciplines.

East-West Center Scholarships and Fellowships are financial opportunities for studying at certain U.S. schools. These options are designed for students from the Asia-Pacific area to encourage the sharing of cultures and learning on a global level.

Scholarships and grants

These sources of financial aid are among the most popular and sought-after. Many colleges, commercial groups, and government agencies offer scholarships. Eligibility for them is determined by academic merit, specific fields of study, or other criteria. Portals like Fastweb,, and College Board’s Scholarship Search can help you identify relevant scholarship opportunities.

Funding aid from US universities

US universities themselves are a significant source of international financial aid. This assistance can come in a variety of ways:

  • Influenced-by-necessity and influenced-by-achievements financial aid. The first one is determined by a student’s financial circumstances, assessed through FAFSA or their CSS Profile. Achievement-based aid, on the other hand, recognizes students’ academic accomplishments and skills.
  • Funding help via the college admissions office. During the admissions process, multiple schools automatically assess applications for scholarship opportunities based on achievements. Be sure to explore each institution’s website for information on available aid and application procedures.
  • Athletic scholarships. If you excel in sports, you might be eligible for athletic scholarships. These scholarships are often offered to exceptional athletes who can contribute to the university’s sports teams.
  • Academic department scholarships. Certain academic divisions within universities provide scholarships to students who are pursuing particular areas of study.
  • Tuition waivers. Also known as schooling remission, they reduce the amount of tuition you need to pay. They can be tailored to needs or determined by merit, and are usually offered by universities to offset educational costs.
  • Funding for a graduate degree. Students pursuing master’s degrees often have access to assistantships and fellowships. These possibilities may include research or teaching duties in return for tuition reimbursement and a grant.

financial assistance for foreign students

International organization scholarships

Several international organizations are dedicated to fostering global education by providing financial aid options, such as scholarships to international students. Associations like Fulbright, the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program, and United World Colleges offer scholarships for students from distinct regions or pursuing particular specializations. Thoroughly analyze the qualifying requirements and application procedures for these stipends.

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the United States Department of State, is one of the most distinguished global educational programs. It offers international financial aid to students, scholars, and professionals from various countries to learn, teach, or research in the USA. The program provides funding for master’s and doctoral degrees at American universities. The program covers schooling and living costs and provides a variety of support services. Each participating country has its own application process and timeline.

Financial aid_Fulbright

International student loans

Loans for overseas learners are financial resources the importance of which can’t be overestimated. These credits are offered by a variety of private lenders and many of them require an American co-signer to reduce risk. The co-signer, a US citizen or permanent resident, often a close relative of the prospective student, vouches for the borrower’s solvency.

The financial stability of the guarantor serves as a warranty that the international student loan will be returned. This, in turn, allows foreign students to get loans with reduced rates of interest, more flexible repayment periods, and bigger loan amounts.

There are private lenders who offer loan options without a co-signer. Such international private student loans may have bigger monthly payments, reflecting the increased risk for the lender. It is worth considering these loans if you do not have a guarantor, as they still provide an opportunity to finance your education and can be refinanced later to secure better terms.

best international student private loans 2023

Source – Forbes Advisor

On-campus employment and work programs

Another way to alleviate monetary burdens is through financial aid options such as employment within the campus facilities and work programs.

  • On-campus jobs. Many colleges and universities encourage overseas learners to seek jobs on-site, within the campus premises. These positions include roles in libraries, student centers, and administrative offices.
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT). This authorizes scholars with F-1 visas to work outside the school’s campus. An important condition for this employment permit is that the student must work exclusively in a position that will help them develop experience related to their major.
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT). This permits F-1 visa holders to work in their area of study for up to one year after graduation. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) grads may qualify for a two-year prolongation.

10 Tips on How to Proceed with Financial Aid for International Students

  1. Begin beforehand. Start looking into financial assistance opportunities as soon as you decide to apply to colleges.
  2. Explore multiple sources. Don’t rely on a single source of financial support. Cast a wide net to increase your chances.
  3. Examine the qualifying requirements thoroughly. Before applying for any monetary assistance option, be sure you satisfy all qualifying conditions.
  4. Use online resources. Websites like scholarship databases and university financial aid pages can provide a wealth of information.
  5. Prepare impressive applications. Craft compelling essays and applications for scholarships, showcasing your achievements and aspirations.
  6. Check deadlines. Missing application deadlines can result in missed opportunities. Stay organized and meet all submission dates.
  7. Seek guidance. Reach out to your university’s funding support office or your country’s education department for guidance.
  8. Build relationships. Network with professors, mentors, and advisors who can provide insights into available opportunities.
  9. Consider CPT and OPT. The jobs within and outside the campus facilities can provide both financial support and valuable work experience.
  10. Stay persistent. Rejection is a possibility, but persistence can lead you to the right financial aid options.

To summarize, studying in the United States as an overseas scholar is an exciting venture that comes with its own set of financial obstacles. However, with a comprehensive understanding of eligibility criteria, a grasp of the types of international financial aid, and diligent research, you will be able to find your way through the complex monetary assistance options and make your dreams of studying in the United States a reality.

5.00 avg. rating (1 vote)
Published by
Alice Dartnell
View all posts
Alice is a life and success coach who empowers people to create a “life by design.” She specializes in bringing together time management, well-being, and productivity in crafting the life you want. She also works with organizations to maximize the output and mental wellness of the staff.