Student Resources

Financing Your U.S. Study

Plan ahead

While it is expensive to study in the United States, please remember that

  • The value of your U.S. degree is worth the investment
  • There is no correlation between the level of tuition and the quality of an institution
  • Costs vary widely from university to university and place to place
  • Planning for financing your study should be done before you submit your applications to the university
  • Pay attention to deadlines for admission as well as university-sponsored scholarships.

Calculating expenses

  • Tuition – the cost of instruction is generally charged as a single amount for the term (semester/quarter). Some universities, and many graduate programs, based their fees on the number of credits students take
  • Fees
    • health insurance
    • student activity fee that gives students access to the library, health center and campus activities
    • out-of-state fees charged by public universities to ALL students who cannot prove they are residents of that particular State.
  • Living Costs
    • room and board
    • transportation
    • books and supplies

Sources of funding

FACT: 80% of international undergraduate students and 40% of graduate students rely on personal funds for their U.S. study.

  • Personal and family funds. Talk with your family about how much money they can give you for your study in the United States.
  • Home country government. Check with your Ministry of Education to determine if they have scholarships and if you would qualify
  • Private sponsors. In most cases, you will have to have a connection with the sponsoring organization (local company, Rotary Club, religious group) for them to sponsor your studies
  • The U.S government. U.S. government funding for non-U.S. students is VERY limited and is always country or project-specific. Check with your advising center for detailed information.
  • U.S. colleges and universities. A growing number of U.S. universities are offering some assistance. See below.
  • Loans. Loans come from college-controlled funds or banks. A U.S. guarantor may be required,. Interest rates are low and repayment begins after graduation. Check with the educational adviser and the universities that interest you.
  • Employment. Current immigration regulations permit non-U.S. citizens to work part-time (less than 20 hours a week) on campus. These jobs (in the cafeteria, bookstore, library, etc.) will give you some spending money, but the income earned cannot be considered as income for official financial purposes, nor will it cover your regular room and board expenses. At this time, permission to work off campus MAY be granted after your first year of study, but there is no guarantee. THE BEST ADVICE IS NOT TO COUNT ON EMPLOYMENT IN THE U.S. TO FUND YOUR EDUCATION.

Financial Assistance from U.S. Colleges and Universities

  • While the terms "scholarships" and "financial aid" are often used interchangeably, there is a technical difference.
  • A scholarship is a financial award based on merit, special talent and/or leadership qualities.
  • Financial aid is based on financial need that must be documented. In most instances, colleges and universities only offer scholarships to students. Only a handful of wealthy colleges are able to meet the financial needs of international students
  • Out-of-state tuition waivers offer in-state tuition to public universities in certain states to students from selected regions of the world. Undergraduate Awards
  • Only the most prestigious, competitive and wealthy U.S. universities are able to offer full or significant funding.
  • Most awards will be partial (half-tuition is most common) and given on the basis of merit or a specific talent.
  • Most public universities do not offer scholarships to international students.
    You must submit all documents (application, test scores, etc.) BEFORE the deadline.

Talent Scholarships

  • These scholarships are given to students with outstanding talent in athletics, music, art & design
  • They can be partial or full scholarships
  • Applicants will need to submit portfolios or videotapes showing their talent, newspaper articles (if appropriate) and letters from coaches or teachers.
  • The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has strict requirements for athletic scholarships. Please see

Graduate Awards

Graduate awards come directly from the departments rather than the university and they fall into three categories:

  • Merit Awards - for students with exceptional academic ability
  • Research Assistantships – for students who will conduct research during their stay
  • Teaching Assistantships – for students who will teach sections of undergraduate courses. For these awards, the ability to speak and teach American students in English is essential.

Students are encouraged to request information about scholarships and aid directly from the departments and/or to check out their websites.

Reduce Your Educational Costs

  • Look for "best buys"; i.e., colleges and universities that offer a quality education at a reasonable cost.
  • Begin your undergraduate education at a two-year community college.
  • Consider public universities
  • Earn transfer credit locally and shorten your stay in the U.S.
  • Get good marks on AP, IB or A level examinations and receive university credit
  • Live with a friend and/or relative to cut living costs
  • Study in the Midwest and/or in a rural part of the country where the living costs are significantly lower than urban areas and the east and west coast.

Useful web sites: