There is very little financial aid for foreign nationals, with the
possible exception of citizens of Canada and Mexico. Most grants,
Scholarships and loans from public and private sources are
restricted to US citizens.
Some countries provide financial aid for their citizens to study in
the US, and there may be some aid available from the US government
for students from specific countries. US government student loans,
however, are not available to international students. Your best bet
for finding out if there is any financial aid for students from your
country is to contact your embassy, the US Department of State, and
the US Information Agency. You should also write to the Agency for
International Development, Office of International Training,
Washington, DC 20523.
Your own government may have financial aid available. Usually this
support requires that you return home after your education is
complete.There may also be private organizations in your home country
that provide support for study in the US.
Some US schools have direct exchange programs with their counterparts
in foreign countries. Such exchange programs often include financial
aid for the international student. To find out about these programs,
ask your local university.
Fulbright scholarships are awarded to approximately 4,700 students
worldwide each year. For information about the Fulbright Program,
contact the US embassy or consulate in your country.
International students who are already enrolled in a US university
should visit the
+ International Student Advisor
+ Financial Aid Office
+ Career Planning & Placement Office
for information about financial aid for foreign students. The campus
library may also have some relevant books.
Foreign graduate students have significantly more opportunities for
financial aid than foreign undergraduate students. The amount of
financial aid for foreign graduate students is nevertheless quite
International students who intend to enroll in a graduate program
at a US university should contact the schools that interest them.
Ask both the relevant department(s) and the university’s Financial
Aid Office about financial aid for international students. Most
support for graduate study in the US by international students is
provided by the schools themselves in the form of teaching
assistantships and research assistantships. These assistantships
are based on academic merit, not financial need. There is very
little financial aid for international students available from
Another suggestion is to read some of the ethnic newspapers that
are published in the US. Some sources of financial aid are
publicized only in such foreign language newspapers. If there
isn’t anything listed,
try calling the editor of the newspaper to see if they know of any
possibilities, such as a member of the community who might be willing
to sponsor your education.
Scholarship search services offer to search a database of scholarships
for awards that match your profile. Unfortunately, the vast majority
of awards in these databases are restricted to US citizens and
permanent residents. Don’t waste your money on these services.
According to NAFSA (Association of International Educators),
two-thirds of international students in the US finance their education
using their own resources and the resources of their family.
Of the few private scholarships for international students, most require
that you apply from your home country. If you are already in the US
you might not be eligible. So you should search for financial aid
before you arrive in the US.
You may find some of the following publications helpful. Before you
order a copy, check whether your library has a copy. The US
Embassy in your country may have copies in their library.
1. IIE, Funding for US Study – A Guide for Foreign Nationals. This
publication lists more than 600 sources of funding for
international students (mostly for graduate and postdoctoral
programs). It is published by the Institute for International
Education, 809 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017-3580.
Their telephone numbers are 1-212-883-8200 and 1-212-984-5412,
their fax number is 1-212-984-5452, and their email address is
2. Octameron Associates publishes a book entitled Scholarships for
International Students; the most recent edition I’ve seen has a
copyright date of 1988, which is quite out-of-date. There may be
more recent versions.
3. College Board, College Handbook: Foreign Student Supplement. This
book provides information about college-specific financial aid for
international students, among other topics. You can order the book
for $16 plus $8.31 for overseas shipping from College Board
Publications, Box 886, New York, NY 10101-0886, USA. If you are in
the US, you can call 1-800-323-7155 to place an order.
4. Marguerite J. Dennis, Complete College Financing Guide, 3rd
Edition, Barron’s Educational Series, 1994. ISBN 0-81-201-635-1.
One chapter is devoted to funding for international students
wishing to study in the US. You can order the book for $17.50 plus
$15.69 for overseas shipping from Barron’s Educational Series,
Inc., 250 Wireless Boulevard, Hauppauge, NY 11788. (The shipping
charge is $2.32 for destinations in the US.)
5. Gregory A. Barnes, The International Student’s Guide to the
American University, National Textbook Company, Lincolnwood, IL,
1993. $12.95. 208 pages. Includes a chapter on financial aid.
6. Sidonia Dalby, Sally Rubenstone, and Emily H. Weir, The
International Student’s Guide to Going to College in America,
Macmillan, New York, 1996. ISBN 0-02-860-587-0.
7. A Selected List of Fellowship Opportunities and Aids to Advanced
Education for U.S. Citizens and Foreign Nationals, National
Science Foundation, Washington, DC, 1994.
8. Carlotta R. Mills, Foundation Grants to Individuals, 9th edition,
1994. (Updated annually.) This book is published by the Foundation
Center, and includes some scholarships and fellowships available
to international students. You can order the book for $55 plus $11
for overseas shipping from Foundation Center, 79 5th Avenue, 8th
Floor, New York, NY 10003. (The shipping charge is $4.50 for
destinations in the US.)
9. W. Wickremasinghe, Scholarships and Grants for Study or Research
in the USA, 2nd edition, American Collegiate Service, Houston,
TX, 1989, 151 pages, ISBN 0-940937-01-8. This book contains a
compilation of financial aid opportunities available from
colleges, US foundations, and international organizations. You can
order the book for $21.95 from American Collegiate Service, PO Box
442008, Houston, TX 77244. Call 1-714-493-9863 for more
10. Alan Wernick, The International Student Handbook, American
Immigration Law Foundation, Washington, DC, 1992, ISBN
1-878677-42-X, $10.95. This book does not provide any information
about financial aid, but does provide a lot of information that
international students may find helpful. Copies may be ordered
from the American Immigration Law Foundation, 1400 Eye Street, NW,
Suite 1200, Washingotn, DC 20005.
An organization that may be able to provide some information is NAFSA,
the Association of International Educators, located in Washington, DC.
Call 1-202-462-4811 and ask for the “Recording on Financial Aid”.
This recording provides information for foreign students interested on
studying in the US and US students who are interested in studying
abroad. NAFSA does not provide any grants to foreign students, with
the exception of a small grant program for students from East Central
Europe (1-202-462-4811 x3081), the Baltic States (1-202-462-4811
x3081), or the former states of the Soviet Union (1-202-462-4811
x3077). Your school’s international student advisor should have
information about these programs.
The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International provides grants to
university students and teachers to act as “goodwill ambassadors”
around the world. The Rotary Foundation also sponsors international
exchanges of business and professional people, and provides provides
grants to improve the quality of life around the world. An example of
this is their Ambassadorial Scholarship Program. For more information
about their programs, write to Rotary Foundation, 1560 Sherman Avenue,
Evanston, IL 60201.
The AAUW Education Foundation provides graduate fellowships to women
with the equivalent of a Bachelors degree who are not citizens or
permanent residents of the United States. International Fellowships
support graduate students writing doctoral dissertations and
postdoctoral scholars conducting research in the United States. Upon
completion of studies, fellowship recipients must return to their home
countries to pursue a professional career; preference will be given to
applicants who can verify that they have a definite position awaiting
them. Applications become available from August 1 through November 15.
The deadline is December 2 (Airmail), and the 1996 fellowship stipend
is $15,065. For more information write to AAUW Educational Foundation,
Department 60, 2201 N. Dodge St, Iowa City, IA 52243-4030, call
1-319-337-1716, or fax 1-319-337-1204, or write to American
Association of University Women, 1111 Sixteenth Street N.W.,
Washington, DC 20036-4873 or call 1-202-728-7603.
Two organizations that may have some information are:
* Institute of International Education. The IIE administers the US
Fulbright program and manages more than 250 international
education programs. For more information, write to Institute for
International Education, 809 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY
10017-3580, call 1-212-883-8200 or 1-212-984-5412, fax
1-212-984-5452, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE), 205 E 42nd
Street, New York, NY 10017.
A few US banks will offer student loans to international students if
the loan is co-signed by a creditworthy US citizen or permanent
resident. There may also be restrictions on the type of visa (F1 or
J1). These include:
* The Education Resources Institute (TERI) (1-800-255-8374 x210 or
1-617-426-0681). The TERI Professional Education Plan (PEP) loan
is available for graduate and professional study. Their lenders
include Citibank (1-800-692-8200 x480), Bank of Boston (PO Box
312, Boston, MA 02117-0312), Baybank (1-800-332-8374 or
1-617-320-2422; PO Box 510, Dedham, MA 02026), and Nellie Mae
(1-800-634-9308; 50 Braintree Hill Park, Braintree, MA 02184).
* USA Funds (1-800-LOAN-USA). These loans include US residents with
a green card, but do not include international students. For more
information write to Option 4 Loan Program, USA Funds MC M372, PO
Box 6180, Indianapolis, IN 46209-9303.
* Norwest Bank (1-703-749-0131 or the financial aid department at
1-800-366-6227). These MBA loans are for graduate business and
medical students who are international students. For more
information write to Norwest Bank/HEMAR Insurance Corp., GMAC,
2400 Broadway Suite 320, Santa Monica, CA 90404-3064.
International students should note that in addition to tuition, fees, room
and board, and living expenses, they will have to pay for health
insurance. US law requires universities to verify that foreign
students have health insurance before allowing them to enroll.
The I-20 form requires proof that you have enough funding for your
first year of study. Do not count on being able to scrape up the
funding after you arrive in the US. Getting a job is usually not an
effective means of financing an education in the US. There are
numerous restrictions on employment by foreign nationals, and some
types of Visas prohibit it entirely. You should know where your money
is coming from before you jump on a plane. Several schools require
proof that you have enough money for the entire course of study,
because too many international students are forced to return home
after only a year of study.
The bottom line is that there is very little financial aid available,
and many foreign students do not study in the US because they cannot
afford the expense.
For a more in-depth treatment of these issues, as well as taxes,
visas, the FAFSA form, and financial aid for Canadian students, please
see the International Students area of the Financial Aid Information Page.
Copyright (c) 1995-96 by Mark Kantrowitz. All rights reserved.
This FAQ may be freely redistributed in its entirety without
modification provided that this copyright notice is not removed. It
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