The financial aid system in the United States can be a very confusing system to navigate through if you are not living in the United States, but we want to give you some tips that can make it much easier for you in the long run. The two main sources of your financial aid will be from the United States Government (which is rare unless you are a candidate for citizenship) or from the university which you are attending.
Government aid is hard to find for international students, unless you are in the process of becoming an American citizen. If you are going to try and obtain financial aid from the federal government, please check out the Student Aid International Students FAQ page at http://studentaid.ed.gov/eligibility/non-us-citizens. There is more information there about the aid that you may or may not be able to obtain as an international student. In short, it is highly dependent on your immigration status, which visa that you are holding
Financial aid from your university is actually where a majority of your college funding is going to come from if you are an international student, which is likely why many universities are generous with funding for students from other countries. Scholarships, grants, and even loans can be made available from the university that you are seeking to attend.
What are some of the requirements that can affect your university-based financial aid? Here are some of the most common factors:
- Your home country. Some universities offer certain scholarships for students from certain countries.
- Your financial need. How much money will you need to attend school?
- Your level of education. Some universities will offer assistantships and internships to international students at the graduate level (your eligibility will vary depending on your visa). Some scholarships and grants are only available to undergraduate students, as well.
- Activities you were involved with during your secondary schooling. Were you involved in athletics or other “extracurricular” activities? You may be able to get funding because of your involvement.
- The degree that you are pursuing. Certain universities will have funding for students that are pursuing particular degrees.
- Grades from previous education. Your secondary or undergraduate education grades can help you with eligibility for funding from your university.
When you apply to your university as an international student, you will hear from your financial aid office shortly after. They will help you get started with any of the paperwork and documentation necessary to apply for funding.
If you need assistance with anything in regards to finances for your education as an international student, contact the financial aid office and/or the international studies office at the university that you are attending. They will have more information available for you and can help you navigate the ins and outs of the paperwork and the system.