Scholarships, sometimes called grants or awards, may be merit-based or need-based. US universities and academic departments, nonprofit organizations, private companies, and foreign governments or universities are all potential scholarship sources. If you are accepted into one of the United States’ more elite schools, they will likely be able to provide more scholarships and grants thanks to large financial endowments. At most universities, however, scholarships are highly competitive and typically reserved for top applicants.
That said, it is always worth trying to get free money. It’s work to obtain scholarships, says Dorsett. If you want to get free money, it doesn’t come free. You have to work for it.
You can learn about scholarship opportunities on your university’s website. But you should still call both the financial aid office and future academic department at your intended universities to make sure you’re aware of all financial aid opportunities available to you.
Sometimes there are scholarships that are not posted on the website, says Ziporyn. Also, the person at the aid office might be the one making decisions about how to allocate resources. Showing interest and asking questions may increase your odds of receiving aid.
Several free, searchable databases are available online (like right here!). One of the best scholarship search tools specifically for international students is offered through IIE at . Its database can help students pinpoint scholarship opportunities from Paintsville lend payday loans both universities and other sources, like foreign governments.
These opportunities can vary from year to year and are often unique to particular countries or areas of study. For example, in recent years there was a special scholarship for engineers from Brazil, which the IIE helped administer to 27,000 students who came to the United States.
One last important detail: as you research scholarships, especially on lesser-known websites, be cautious of potential scams. Never send money, bank account numbers, or credit card numbers to any organization that promises a scholarship in return.
While US citizens and permanent residents can apply for federal loans, only private loans are available for international students. Typically, these loans require a creditworthy cosigner who is a US citizen.
In my experience, it can be very difficult for students to find a loan, says Hoskey. But that’s not to say they don’t exist.
If you are able to secure a loan, carefully review its terms, especially interest rates, which can vary widely (and a difference of a couple percentage points can translate into thousands of dollars in additional debt).
Other ways to offset university costs
Most students, international and domestic, end up paying for school through a combination of different types of financial aid and other cost-saving methods. You just need to get a little creative…
Although international students are not eligible for federal work-study from the US government, many universities offer their own work-study or other part-time jobs that can help offset living expenses.
Work-study primarily helps supplement living expenses or provides pocket money, says Dorsett. But a lot of international students do work, and it can contribute significantly-especially if they can work in the summer, like with a paid internship.
International students will need to review the regulations for their specific visa to determine whether they can work, what kind of work they can do, and how many hours a week they can do it. Typically, international students are limited to 20 hours a week during school.
Start at a community college
It’s becoming increasingly popular for international students to attend a community college for the first two years of university, where classes are less expensive, and then transfer into a four-year institution.