What can international students do to enhance their chances of getting financial aid?
Most institutions, unfortunately, have little or no need-based financial aid for international students. This does differ from school to school, however, so it is important that you investigate the financial aid procedures at each of the schools you will be considering. Although, international students do not qualify for financial aid from the U.S. government, either, it may be that you can access financial aid from your own government for studying in the U.S.
Many colleges/universities have generous merit-based financial aid awards, however, which are available to both domestic and international students. Merit-based aid is awarded with consideration given to a student's high school grades, standardized test scores, demonstrated leadership skills, or other specified criteria. That means that the best way of enhancing his/her chances to access this financial aid is for a student to maintain outstanding performance in high school, make every effort to achieve outstanding standardized test scores (if they are required by the schools to which the student will be applying), and, if it is appropriate to the individual, become involved in leadership positions while in high school.
Some schools have the financial resources to guarantee that they will cover the full financial need of all admitted students, both domestic and international. In many cases, these schools are "need-blind", meaning that they accept students without considering whether those students will ultimately need financial aid or not. For obvious reasons, admission to these schools is highly competitive. It is important to keep in mind that your family's idea of your "full financial need" may differ considerably from the determination made by the institution.
International students with outstanding skills in sports, music, dance, art, or other specialized areas may qualify for financial assistance from the relevant departments within a university. Students who feel that they fit in this category should investigate the scholarship offerings of the schools at which they are looking to determine what application processes are required,
There are several public institutions, which, because they want to attract and develop their international student populations, offer international students the same tuition rate as in-state students. This rate is considerably less than the tuition required of domestic out-of-state students. International students taking advantage of this significant discount are usually asked to become involved with community out-reaches in which they familiarize others with the cultures of their home countries.