What can international students do to enhance their chances of getting financial aid?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

What can international students do to enhance their chances of getting financial aid?

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

What can international students do to enhance their chances of getting financial aid?

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: http://www.edupass.org/finaid/. 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

Have a dynamic application.

Students who would like to increase their chances of getting institutional financial aid need to present a wonderful application and show a demonstrated interest in the school that they wish to receive aid from. The best way to have a dynamic application is by following the advice of an American college counselor or by reading college counseling books published for American high school students. The best way to show a demonstrated interest in a school is by visiting campus. Colleges have a record of students who visit campus verses just sending in an application. When students visit campus they should schedule an appointment with the admissions counselor who is in charge of international recruitment and will be the person reading their applications. Skype is an excellent way to schedule and off campus meeting. Skype is cost effective.

David Allen
Managing Director Global College Counselors Ltd

Apply

Simply put, apply using the correct forms, make sure everything is honest and accurate and then submit your forms as early as is prudent.

Mark Gathercole
University Advisor Independent University Advising

What can international students do to enhance their chances of getting financial aid?

They should do the same things that will help their chances of admission - take challenging courses in high school (if they have a choice of courses) and do as well as possible in them. Also, choose one or two activities (in or outside of school) that they are passionate about, and participate with quality in those activities over time. Make yourself as attractive to a college as possible.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Financial Aid Very Limited For International Students

International students who will be enrolling on an F1 or J1 visa will not be eligible for federal financial aid programs. Most private or institutional aid is also limited to US citizens and permanent residents. Students who live abroad but will not seek a visa for study will be eligible for aid and should apply. To offset costs, International students should seek institutions that use merit scholarships to actively recruit students from abroad.

Patricia Krahnke
President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

What can international students do to enhance their chances of getting financial aid?

Short Answer: If the college does not offer you a scholarship, and you really want to attend that institution, ask them if they can offer you some money to attend. (NOTE: Most colleges generate their scholarship award via the admissions office, which means any notice of scholarships will come via your letter of acceptance or in the spring as a separate notice. Financial aid is not offered to international students through the U.S. federal government; however, many colleges and universities give “scholarships” in the form of tuition discounting to international students to encourage them to attend (NOTE: These scholarships may only be for the first year.) This means they simply reduce the cost of attendance by making your tuition lower than an American student who is asked to pay full tuition. Often this discounting will be called an "academic scholarship." But, hey, it's money, right? Detailed Answer: If the college does not offer you a scholarship, and you really want to attend that institution, ask them if they can offer you some money to attend. (NOTE: Most colleges generate their scholarship award via the admissions office, which means any notice of scholarships will come via your letter of acceptance or in the spring as a separate notice. U.S. colleges are increasing their competition to get you to attend their college or university. They will say it’s because they welcome the diversity that you might bring, and certainly that's a wonderful contribution you can make to our colleges. But the bottom line is that all almost all American colleges and universities are in financial crisis, and they believe you can pay for the education without much financial assistance from them. They know that many of their competitors are offering prospective international students substantial tuition discounts (which they are calling “scholarships.”) So if the institution you are interested in does not offer you a “scholarship,” you can either 1) agree to pay the full amount of tuition, 2) pressure them for money, or 3) you can tell them you will attend another college that is offering you a “scholarship.” Then see if the college you really want to go to will decide to offer you money. If you do receive a scholarship, make sure it is renewable over the four years of your undergraduate degree. Many, many colleges use scholarships (or tuition discounting) as bait to get students to attend the college the first year. They hope that the student will become emotionally and socially integrated to the point that they will do anything to pay the full amount to continue attending, even without a scholarship. This can place undo hardship on the international student’s family (it certainly makes it very difficult for American students.) To see which colleges (by state) in the U.S. offer scholarships to international students, visit http://www.internationalstudent.com/schools_awarding_aid/ [Keep in mind that the list of institutions mentioned on this page specifically are EXTREMELY difficult to get into, even for top students. But many, many other colleges and universities in the U.S. offer outstanding, prestigious degree programs.]

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

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.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

What can international students do to enhance their chances of getting financial aid?

They can't file a FAFSA, but a personal meeting with the director of financial aid is highly recommended, and many colleges have special financial aid forms as well.

Kristina Dooley
Independent Educational Consultant Estrela Consulting

What can international students do to enhance their chances of getting financial aid?

Unfortunately, most colleges do not offer need-based financial aid to international students. However, an international student can enhance their chances or getting merit-based aid by displaying excellent academic progress in school while staying involved in extracurricular activities. It's important to meet all application deadlines as many schools require international students, or at least those applying for merit-based scholarships, to submit all of their application materials earlier than some regular decision deadlines.

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

What can international students do to enhance their chances of getting financial aid?

The first step is to be sure the colleges you are applying to offer FA to international students. The next step is to visit the websites of the colleges you are interested in and read about their individual requirements for awarding FA to internationals: CSS Profile and Certification of Finances. Once you have narrowed down your lists, it is worth contacting the admissions officer who covers your area to ask questions about the amounts available and the level of competition. Start the process early as some colleges have early application and FA deadlines!