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Scholarships for International Students to Study in the US: Financial Aid for Foreign Students in USA

Study in the US: Guide for International Students in USA

Scholarships for International Students to Study in US Scholarships for Foreign Students Financial Aid

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Financing a US college degree is a significant hurdle, even for most Americans. However, as a foreign student / international student, you must prove in advance that you can pay for your college studies before you can obtain a student visa to study in the United States. More than likely, you will need to pursue some form of financial aid, including scholarships.

The cost of tuition varies dramatically at US colleges and universities from as little as $7000 a year at some schools to $40,000 a year and beyond at others. You may notice that State supported colleges and universities (separate from private colleges and universities) typically offer lower tuition fees to residents of their own State. For example, at the University of Virginia, the college tuition cost in 2010-2011 for a student (full-time undergraduate) who qualified as a resident of Virginia was $10,836 a year (in-state tuition), while the college tuition cost for a non-resident of the State (even for a US citizen) was $33,782 a year. Being a resident (in-state), obviously, can make college costs much less expensive, but as a foreign student / international student, you cannot initially take advantage of these lower college tuition fees. In addition to college tuition, you will also have costs for room, board (meals), and books.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Help from Colleges and Universities

You certainly should make inquiries about financial aid and scholarships for international students / foreign students with the US colleges and universities to which you are applying. While many US colleges offer little aid to foreign undergraduate students (unless you happen to be an extraordinary athlete), some schools do offer scholarships for international students, or have special programs to help foreign students / international students find financial aid and scholarships. For example, Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, says it seeks a student population which is culturally, economically, socially and geographically diverse, and the institution works to support students who would not otherwise have the resources to enroll. During the 2008-2009 academic year, Lewis & Clark awarded over a million dollars in college financial aid to international students, 60 percent of whom received financial aid. Approximately 45 financial aid awards are made to new international students in the college each fall. The average financial aid award at the college in the 2009-2010 academic year was approximately $20,000.

A list of direct links to financial aid offices for various US colleges and universities is listed here at Yahoo. Individual schools are more likely to offer grants and scholarships for international students / foreign students who prove themselves superior in their fields of study.

Graduate students should have more luck finding financial aid, as graduate and teaching assistantships and fellowships are offered to students with proven academic records, regardless of whether they are foreign students / international students or US citizens. Even if you are applying for graduate studies, however, some schools will not consider you for a fellowship or assistantship until your second year of study.

Finding Scholarships for International Students / Foreign Students in the US

While there are many scholarships for study in the USA, they often require US citizenship or at least US residency. If you find a college scholarship that interests you, the first thing you should do is to look at the scholarship requirements and determine if you must be a US citizen. There is financial aid available for international students / foreign students to study in the US, but it takes initiative and determination to find. Some places that have specific information on scholarships for international students / foreign students studying in the US include:

Government Financial Aid: Grants & Loans

You may see, and schools may send you, information about state and federal (national) government financial aid. Before you take the time to apply, be sure to determine whether the government financial aid is available to international students / foreign students. Unfortunately, federal and state government grants and loans generally do not apply to foreign students / international students studying in the United States. For more information about federal financial aid, see US Federal Government Financial Aid for Foreign Students. For more information about state financial aid, contact the appropriate state (click here for a list of state education agencies).

Other Sources of Financial Aid and Scholarships for International Students

It does not hurt to be creative in your search for financial aid or scholarships to study in the USA. You may have luck researching grants or loans in your own country for study abroad. Also, some international agencies such as the United Nations and the World Council of Churches offer financial aid for international students who wish to study in the United States, but competition is tough for student financial aid from large agencies such as these.

What interests you? What clubs, churches, or civic groups are you a member of? It is certainly worth your time to research groups in your own country that may offer college scholarships to individuals with your interests, your ideals, or your ethnic background. You may be surprised what you find, and you will certainly increase your chances of getting a scholarship since you will be applying for scholarships for which you are uniquely qualified.

Be sure to see US Educational Advising Centers in Your Country: Study in USA for resources and organizations in your own country that can provide guidance with financial aid and scholarships.

More Websites to Help Find Scholarships for International Students to Study in the US

Here are more places on the web that can help you search for financial aid and scholarships for international students to study in US:

  • FastWEB Use FastWeb's free scholarship search to find information on more than 600,000 scholarships. Asks you questions to determine your background, including hobbies and interests, and then searches for appropriate financial aid for you. It will even email you information about financial aid that may suit your needs, as it becomes available.
  • eduPASS is a site providing comprehensive information to foreign students / international students wishing to study in the United States.
  • Mach 25 allows you to search for scholarships based upon your age, nationality, interest and club memberships, as well as other characteristics.

For even more resources, see Additional Sources of Information for International Students: Scholarships, Financial Aid, and More. You might also want to ask your U.S. Educational Advising Center if it has the book Funding for United States Study: A Guide for Citizens of Other Nations from the Institute of International Education, 809 UN Plaza, New York, NY, 10017-3580.

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