Navigating the financial aid application process can be difficult. Navigating a financial aid application process in a country that’s foreign to you can seem next to impossible. That’s why we’ve come up with some basic information for international students to get you started on researching your college funding opportunities.
Your best chance to gain access to funding opportunities to attend college in the United States is to start doing your research while still in your home country. The awards that you may be specifically eligible for as an international student will most likely no longer are available to you once you arrive at your American institution, and as a student without U.S. citizenship, you won’t be eligible for a large number of U.S.-based awards. That could leave you with few options once you’re already at your new college, so start looking for funding well before you arrive, or even before you apply, to American programs.
Consider looking at schools that have a history of generous funding for international students, or locations where you’ll have more of a chance to find local sources of funding while you’re attending your American institution. The Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling offers a list of American schools that provide aid to international students. You may need to look harder for funding than a U.S. citizen, but you do have options
The federally-funded financial aid programs most American students rely on to cover a large portion of their college costs – Federal Pell Grants, the Federal Work-Study Program, and the low-interest Federal Stafford and PLUS Loans – are not available to international students. International students from specific countries or with the intent to become U.S. citizens, refugees, those granted asylum and several other categories as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, however, may be eligible for the above-mentioned federal aid as "eligible non-citizens".
Look into nonprofits and outside organizations that may either have international ties or goals to promote ideas like improved international relations, cultural understanding, world peace, or a global consciousness for sources of financial aid. U.S.-based professional associations and organizations may also have funds set up to bring talented international students to the United States to study or conduct research. Competition for funding from both local and international organizations that award funding to international students will be fierce, but if you meet those awards’ criteria, you follow the applications’ directions to the letter, and you apply early enough from your home country, you’ll have a better chance to land funding.
Scholarship opportunities may seem few and far between if you’re an international student, but there are awards out there that you may be eligible for regardless of your citizenship status. Below are ideas for finding funding while you’re away from your home country. Also be sure to check out our International Student Scholarships page for examples of specific awards, and try conducting a free scholarship search, as some awards won’t require that applicants are U.S. citizens, even if they don’t specifically target international students.
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