Before Applying for Financial Aid
Are you in the beginning stages of considering international study? If so, EducationUSA
, supported by the United States Department of State, outlines 5 steps that you should follow when considering international study:
- Research your options (find a college or university that fits your needs).
- Complete your application (you can find links to online applications for Indiana colleges and universities on their individual college profile).
- Finance your studies (see below for options).
- Apply for your student visa (this takes time, so be sure you prepare in advance).
- Prepare for your departure (get packed, learn about the community you are going to live in, etc.).
Applying for Financial Aid
What are the financial aid options for international students wanting to study in the United States? As you will see below, most of the financial aid available to international students comes either as private loans or scholarships, and most of those are only available to graduate students. However, don’t be discouraged. Check out all of the resources below to see what opportunities you might be able to take advantage of!
Your Home Government
Because international students do not qualify for U.S. federal financial aid programs (such as Direct or Perkins Loans), Work Study, or grants, it is important that you start your search for financial aid in your home country. Does your employer offer tuition remission programs? Are there governmental or private sources of financial aid? Be sure to check options in your home country in addition to checking out options in your host country.
In order to qualify for federal financial aid, a student must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
and be one of the following:
- United States citizen
- Permanent resident
o A U.S. resident who is the holder of a Permanent Resident (Green) Card (I-551).
- Eligible non-citizen
o Generally, you are an eligible noncitizen if you are (1) a permanent U.S. resident with a Permanent Resident Card (I-551); (2) a conditional permanent resident (I-551c); or (3) the holder of an Arrival-Departure Record (I-94) from the Department of Homeland Security showing any one of the following designations: "Refugee," "Asylum Granted," "Parolee" (I-94 confirms that you were paroled for a minimum of one year and status has not expired), "Victim of human trafficking," T-Visa holder (T-1, T-2, T-3, etc.) or "Cuban-Haitian Entrant."
If your visa status is F1 or F2 or J1 or J2, you are not eligible for the federal student financial aid or SSACI (State Student Assistance Commission of Indiana) programs. If you do not qualify as a permanent resident or an eligible non-citizen, you cannot file for federal assistance. However, many college and universities offer institutional financial assistance to international students. Check with the financial aid office or the school’s website to see what sort of assistance they offer.
Students who are permanent residents and/or eligible non-citizens (as outlined above) are eligible for participation in Indiana grant programs, such as the Indiana Frank O’Bannon Grant.
To qualify, students must:
- Be an Indiana resident by December 31st the year prior to applying (December 31, 2011 for the 2012-2013 school year);
- Be a U.S. Citizen or eligible noncitizen;
- Be a high school graduate or hold a GED;
- Attend, or plan to attend, an eligible college or university;
- Be enrolled, or plan to enroll, in a course of study leading to an associates or first bachelor’s degree;
- Be a full-time student, or plan to enroll as a full-time student (defined as at least 12 credit hours per term, or the equivalent); and
- Fill out the FAFSA - by March 10 of the academic year preceding the academic year the applicant plans to enroll.
Colleges and Universities
- Are you currently going to a college in your home country? Be sure to check out exchange programs that your school offers. They might have financial aid available to students taking part in an exchange program
- Also, many colleges in the U.S. have scholarships available to international students. Check with the college(s) you are interested in to see what types of scholarships you might qualify for.
Most international students must rely mostly or all on private and personal funds. Check the links below to see if you qualify for any of the scholarships/grants offered. Again, remember to check the college you are interested in to see if they have any grants or scholarships for international students.
Are you an Indiana resident who wants to study abroad?
- Many Indiana colleges and universities (and many across the United States) offer international exchange programs. If you want to be able to study in a different country for a few weeks, a semester, or more, check with the college you are interested in to see if they offer opportunities for international study.
- If you are, or will be, receiving financial aid, be sure you check to see if some or all of it applies toward the cost of studying abroad.
- If you are interested in obtaining your entire college education in a different country, follow the 5 steps that EducationUSA outlined in the section above. You can also apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program through the U.S. Department of State. For more information, go to their program’s website.
- Find study abroad programs, grants/scholarships, and additional resources through the Institute of International Education’s website