Financing Your Studies
Financial aid for foreign students studying in the United States is extremely limited. 70% of all foreign students are supported by private funds. The remaining 30% are funded by home country governments and organizations, U.S. government agencies, and U.S. colleges and universities. Of that 30%, only 10% receive funds from U.S. colleges and universities.
Although competition is very keen, financial aid is available for graduate study and research. Aid may come from either public or private institutions or private foundations and organizations. There tends to be greater support available for students in the humanities, social sciences, and natural life sciences, and engineering.
In most cases, foreign students are in competition with U.S. students for financial aid funds. Foreign students should therefore explore all opportunities for funding in their own country before applying for U.S. based aid.
B. Who Should Apply?
Students will have a greater chance of obtaining financial assistance if they have:
* evidence of high level of academic achievement
* high standardized test scores (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, etc.)
* demonstrable financial need but private funding to cover some of the cost. Financial need is not as crucial for some awards at the graduate level
* a field of study or teaching experience in a subject offered at the undergraduate level (increased opportunities exist for teaching assistantships)
* a field of specialization or research interest which parallels those of the university’s department and faculty or the private funding source (increases opportunities for research assistantships and grants)
C. Types of Financial Aid
Sources of funds can come from U.S. universities, private foundations, U.S. government agencies, civic organizations, private companies, etc.
Based on academic merit. Generally require no repayment obligations. They usually cover full or partial tuition.
Based on academic merit and generally have no teaching or research obligations. Fellowships usually cover tuition plus cash stipend.
Generally based on financial need and merit with no work or research obligations.
4. Teaching Assistantship
Awards are based on academic qualifications. They usually require a student to work 15 to 20 hours per week in such areas as lecturing, grading papers, supervising laboratory classes, etc. Students are usually paid a salary or stipend. Additional tuition waivers are sometimes included. “T.A.’s” are offered preferably to advanced students.
5. Research Assistantship
Awards are based on academic qualifications and research interests. The student assists a faculty member in conducting research and is usually paid a salary or stipend. Many assistantships include tuition waivers. Such awards are rarely given to first year students.
6. Administrative Assistantship
Awards are based on need and academic qualifications. This usually requires 10 to 20 hours of work per week, generally in the administrative offices of the university. The work may provide a tuition waiver or a salary.
7. Miscellaneous aid from foundations, government agencies, private organizations, etc.
The amount or type of financial assistance varies with each grant. It may or may not require students to perform a service, do research, or to work on a certain study project.
8. Fulbright Grants
Fulbright Grants for Belgians and Luxembourgers for post-graduate study or post-doctoral research are available through the Commission for Educational Exchange. The grants are funded by various U.S., Belgian and Luxembourg sources.
Students have to prove academic excellence as well as a strong knowledge of English. A more detailed hand-out on the subject is available at the Commission.
A second year student can also earn some pocket money by working on campus. “Campus Jobs” are available in all fields: kitchen duties, laboratory assistant, library work … Part-time work is another means of gathering a few dollars.
D. Part-time Work
Foreign students may not rely on earning money to help towards their expenses after they get to the United States. A foreign student must study full-time and is only permitted to take employment directly connected with and supervised by the college with which he is affiliated. Foreign students are not usually permitted to work at all during their first year. Part-time employment on campus may be available, but the amount of money thus earned will only be enough for pocket money and will never allow you to pay for your studies or cover all of your living expenses.
Though rare, there are international student loans available to individuals who meet certain criteria. Many loans require a cosigner. A cosigner is someone who guarantees and is responsible for payment to the loaning institution if for any reason you are unable to pay back the loan. A variety of organizations and institutions provide private loans to international students. Many provide assistance that is targeted to students from specific regions or countries and who meet certain criteria.
The following is a link with international student loan options: www.internationalstudentloan.com
F. Web sites with multiple scholarship resources:
* Abroad Planet Scholarship Resources
Online community of international students studying in the United States.
* College Board
Free online financial aid source for scholarships, grants, and loans for all college-bound students, including permanent residents and international students wishing to study in the United States.
Free online scholarship search service.
* International Education Financial Aid
Free online scholarship search service designed for international students.
* International Scholarships
Free online scholarship database for international students wishing to study worldwide.
* Mobility International USA
Free online scholarship resource for non–U.S. citizens with disabilities.
* United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Free online searchable database for scholarships to international students.
* Institute of International Education
An extensive database of scholarships, fellowships, and grants