Financial Aid Options for International Students

Financial aid for international students is very limited and availability varies from school to school. There are a small number of universities that are able to offer scholarships to all admitted international applicants, others that do not offer any form of aid, and many that provide a range of financial options. If you are an international student seeking financial aid, it is important to familiarize yourself with the different options and resources available.

There are several different types of financial assistance to explore and consider:

  • Merit-based scholarships are highly competitive awards based on your academic performance during high school.
  • Need-based aid grants are rare but may be awarded after a review of your family’s economic situation.
  • Athletic scholarships are offered at NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II and NAIA institutions.
  • Talent-based grants or scholarships may be awarded for exceptionally gifted students in music, theater, dance, etc.
  • There are very few universities that offer loans to international students, however many can assist you with obtaining a private bank loan. You are required to have a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in order to obtain a loan.
  • Outside scholarships such as Fulbright grants, Organization of American States scholarships, or funding through your Ministry of Higher Education often provide full or partial support for studies in the U.S. You may learn more about outside sources of funding by visiting your local EducationUSA Advising Center (

Each university has their own policy regarding financial assistance for international students as well as their own financial aid/scholarship application process. Be sure to read the application instructions carefully, make yourself aware of the deadlines, and explore all of your options. While financial aid is limited there are a number of resources out there to help you finance your education.


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