The View From Campus: Financing a U.S. Degree

 

Authored this month by Marty Bennett, an award-winning international educator with a career spanning 25+ years, in the UK and the United States, where he directed international student admissions efforts at five different institutions.

 

How do students fund their studies in the USA?

When applying to colleges and universities in the United States, one of first experiences most students have is sticker shock.  For example, the annual cost for a bachelor’s degree program at an elite institution, when combining tuition and fees, living expenses, books and supplies, health insurance, etc., can exceed $75,000 US. While there are institutions where the annual expenses may be under $20,000, the majority are in the middle, out of reach for many aspiring students. Yet, for the fourth year in a row, there are more than one million international students studying in the United States. How do they fund their studies? The Institute of International Education’s (IIE) annual Open Doors Report shares that for 65% of students, personal and family sources are the primary source of funding, followed by U.S. colleges or universities at 21%.

 

Financial support sources

According to data from a 2018 NAFSA report international students received over $10 billion in financial support from U.S. sources in the form of scholarships, grants, tuition waivers, assistantships, etc. Which schools gave that aid? There are over 4500 accredited U.S. colleges and universities, but, unfortunately, there is not a master list of which institutions offer financial support.

In general, more aid is available to students seeking graduate (master’s or doctoral degrees) in the United States, in the form of graduate teaching or research assistantships that provide tuition waivers, and stipends for work done for specific departments on campus. For prospective undergraduate students, EducationUSA advisers, part of the U.S. Department of State’s network of advising centers in over 170 countries, have access to an annually updated list of scholarships/aid, including 100+ colleges that offer full financial aid to qualified international students. Students should contact their local EducationUSA office for information on what is currently available.

The best resources available to find current scholarships for international students are IIE’s Funding U.S. Study and EducationUSA.  EducationUSA’s Your 5 Steps to U.S. Study is considered the best one-stop resource for students hoping to study in the United States, and provides many tips to find financial support, including a searchable database of financial aid.

Keep an open mind and be sure to ask university representatives what financial support is available to international students. Good luck!

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