Should I apply for financial aid as an international student?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

Should I apply for financial aid as an international student?

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

If you need it, apply

That depends on your financial situation. Many US colleges are not able to give financial assistance to international students, but many are able to help. If your family cannot afford to pay for college it makes sense to apply for financial aid. It also helps to be willing to consider colleges you may not be as familiar with because they freqeuntly want to attract international students. As a result, they will often help fund all or part of your education.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

Should I apply for financial aid as an international student?

There is very little financial aid available for international students who want to pursue their undergraduate degrees in the U.S. While that should not stop you from applying for aid, you should be aware that chances are very slim that you will receive grants or scholarships. For more information on aid for international students, please check out this site: It is a part of FinAid -- which is one of the most reputable authorities on financial aid for college students in the U.S.

Tyler Burton
President Burton College Tours

The funds are limited.

You may apply for financial aid as an international student. International students may qualify for institutional aid but not federal aid. Many schools have a different subset of rules for international students who are applying for aid and this includes if a student may apply for early decision or regular decision.

Nicholas Umphrey

Should I apply for financial aid as an international student?

It really depends on what your need is. I know that it never hurts because the worst they can say is no.

Woodrow Dunn
Academic Counselor Freedom High School

Financial Aid

Most financial aid for international students is merit based, however I would always investigate what aid is available. All universities have different types of financial aid available, so check the financial aid websites carefully for each school.

Robin Farris

Financial aid and International students

I highly recommend my international students apply for merit based scholarships. A lot of colleges will award scholarships based on merit.

Don Tamminga

Should I apply for financial aid as an international student?

Of course! There is merit based finacial aid as well as need based financial aid and you never know what a school is willing to give you to attend.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

There are only scholarships available no grants

If the international student has the extra time then yes apply for aid. But the student must understand they are only eligible for scholarships specific to them (international student) and there is a very small percentage available.

Michael Maldonado


If you have need, then yes you should apply for financial aid. But be aware that US federal aid will only be available to US citizens and qualified permanent residents. So if you are a US citizen abroad you qualify for federal aid. Also, understand the amount of aid available for international students will be dependent on the schools to which you apply and how much that school caters to international students. Realize, as well, which schools are need blind for international students in their admission decisions. You also have the option of competing for merit based aid at the schools that you apply. In the end if you need aid, do your research and apply to schools that actually have aid for international students otherwise you will be wasting your time. Look into private and outside scholarships from your own country as well as the US. Look for schools that are actually trying to increase their international student population. You may not have heard about many of them but you may realize that they offer as good of an education as some well known schools.

Mark Gathercole
University Advisor Independent University Advising


Need-based aid for international students is available at a number of schools, but at all but 5-10 of them, the need for financial aid may affect your chances of admission. You have to decide whether your need for funds is worth the risk at these schools. Merit-based aid is available to international students at most universities in the U.S., and does not affect a student's chances of admission. Merit scholarships are given for a number of reasons by admissions offices, and international students have as good a chance of receiving it as anyone. The schools which are the most likely to award merit aid to an international student are those where the student falls in the top half of the applicant pool, and schools where there are not many other international students.