If you want to study in the U.S., it is important to think about how you will finance your studies. This often goes hand-in-hand with Step 1: Research Your Options. At the same time you are researching universities for best overall fit, you should also be considering potential funding and scholarship opportunities. University is a chance to invest in yourself and your future. Researching university prices, cost of living, and financial assistance can help make higher education affordable and a worthwhile investment.
The U.S. is a large and diverse country and the institutions offer a wide array of programs with a variety of tuition and fees. The cost of living varies across the U.S. and should be considered when evaluating the price of study. You should also consider what level of study you are pursuing (graduate school, undergraduate school, community college, etc.) because the price of education differs based on the level of degree.
Start financial planning early! Every year students from all around the world receive significant financial assistance, but competition can be high. When determining what you can invest in your education it is important to evaluate what you are willing to spend, what’s best for your education, and your career goals.
While it’s true that worldwide the number one source of student funding comes from personal and family resources, colleges and universities are a great place to look for financial support. Each institution has its own scholarship and financial aid opportunities and programs. Institutional awards and aid can range from small scholarships to full tuition and living expenses. It is important to take the time to research the special opportunities and financial aid options for international students.
Some institutions offer aggressive scholarship programs for international students, while others have very limited aid for internationals. Some offer merit aid to international students, which can be for academic work, leadership, arts, sport, etc. Others are need-based only. Financial assistance can vary widely from campus to campus, so check the financial aid and international student sections of college and university websites for specific information about each institution on your list.
You can find affordable ways to study in the U.S., such as scholarships, in-state tuition benefits, waived application fees and deadlines, and similar provisions.
Applications for financial assistance are typically due around the same time as applications for admission. Be sure to double check all scholarship opportunities and deadlines on the school’s website because each institution has different requirements.
Once you exhaust the award and/or aid resources from the institution, you can look at other types of funding like private scholarships and grants, employer funding, and work study opportunities.
Study is the U.S. can appear expensive, but if you research your options and put the time in to applying for financial assistance and scholarships you can find a school that fits your financial and academic needs.
- Cost of attendance: figure provided by universities that estimates total cost of attending school for a one-year period. This number usually includes tuition, housing, meal plan, books, and travel expenses.
- Expected family contribution (EFC): measures a family’s financial strength by taking into account taxed and untaxed income, assets, benefits, family size, and number of family members attending university in the same year. Calculated with a formula established by U.S. law and is calculated using information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The number does not reflect what a family will pay but is used to determine financial aid.
- Federal Student Aid: Federal student aid is aid from the US federal government to help pay for education expenses. Federal student aid includes grants, loans, and work-study programs. To be eligible you must demonstrate financial need, be a U.S. or eligible noncitizen, and be enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program.
- Scholarship: financial support awarded to a student based on academic achievement or other criteria for the purpose of schooling. Each U.S. universities has its own scholarship offerings and requirements.