What financial aid is available for international students?
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?
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.]