George Lucas Educational Foundation
Education Trends

The Financial Aid Application Process For International Students

October 18, 2012
Photo credit: bopuc via flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

There are many international students who desire to study in U.S. colleges, and therefore, many are exploring the different avenues to fund their college expenses. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources for funding. This blog presents a guide to finding these resources that will hopefully make those students' transitions easier.

While American students are eligible for need-based federal financial aid, international students usually come on merit-based scholarships, although some also gain access to grants, student loans and part-time jobs to fund their studies. The major sources of funding for international students are:

  1. International scholarships
  2. Grants, loans and part-time jobs arranged and/or offered by the college

Minimum Eligibility Requirements for U.S. College Funding

To be eligible for financial aid as an international student seeking to study in the U.S., the minimum requirements would be:

  • Students from countries where English is not the official language must successfully complete the TOEFL Exam.
  • Some colleges also require the successful completion of the SAT and ACT tests.
  • You also must have a valid student visa such as the F1 for full-time students, the J1 for exchange students, etc.

Funding Sources for International Students

The best and most popular source of funding for international students is through scholarships. At the same time, there are many colleges across the country that play an active role in facilitating in-college or around-the-college part-time jobs for international students. These colleges also help students apply for grants, part-time jobs arranged by the college, and sometimes low-interest loans.

Every international student who comes to the U.S. to pursue higher education needs to have a valid student visa to be eligible for any type of financial aid. In most cases when scholarships are awarded, the visas are facilitated by the respective embassies in the country where the student lives.

Some Popular Scholarships

There are many scholarships. Educate yourself on all the available scholarships offered by the college or colleges you prefer to attend.

  1. AWS International Scholarship Program – Students need to apply here by April 1 at the latest every year.
  2. American Association of University Women International Fellowship - Students need to apply here by December 1 at the latest every year.
  3. NSCD Academy Abroad Scholarships - Students need to apply here by April 16 at the latest every year.
  4. SIT Study Abroad HBCU Scholarships - Students should contact SIT for application deadlines, because there are many.
  5. Fulbright Program - Students need to apply here by August 31 at the latest every year.
  6. Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship - Students need to apply here by February 6 at the latest every year.
  7. Google Lime Scholarship Program - Students need to apply here by February 5 at the latest every year.
  8. Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship - Students need to apply here by February 3 at the latest every year.
  9. PEO International Peace Scholarships - Students need to apply here by December 15 at the latest every year.
  10. Organization of American States - Department of Human Resources Development by Leo. S. Rowe Pan American Fund - There is no deadline to apply for a loan; candidates may apply at any time during the year once they have been accepted into a university in the United States.

Other Important Sources of Information and Funding

  1. Students will find some of the best resources for information from the website of the International Student Exchange & Study Abroad Resource Center. Here, they'll find plenty of information about international student loans and schools that offer international students financial aid. They can also conduct a search for all types of international scholarships.
  2. At the International Education Financial Aid website (, students can find a long and very comprehensive list with links, advice and all the information they'll need. Check it out. The same website also offers in-depth information about how to obtain study loans for international students. The catch here is that, in order to get the loan, the person who applies should have a qualified co-signer ready to sign along with him or her.
  3. For loans and private funding, there are organizations that offer student loans to non-U.S. citizens for studies. The Sallie Mae scholarships are:

To ensure that you find adequate funding, you should carefully research all possible avenues. Students may prefer to contact their country's American Embassy and talk to the education advisor for further information and help. Also, it's helpful to get in contact with the colleges you find suitable and request assistance as well. As mentioned earlier, many colleges will have their own scholarship funds. They can also put students in touch with lending institutions for low-interest loans, and may be willing to discuss part-time work programs.

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  • Financial Literacy
  • 9-12 High School

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