Studying in the U.S. as an international student is an amazing experience and can lead to great opportunities, but often comes at a steep cost. International students studying at a public school usually pay between $20,000-35,000 in tuition fees on average, while those studying at a private institution typically pay between $35,000-50,000. There are also accommodations to consider; campus dorms can be between $5,000-8,000 per year, while a single bedroom apartment may range from $7,000-15,000. On top of that, living expenses like groceries, clothes, shopping, travel costs are required as well. All in all, international students studying at a graduate program in the U.S. can pay an overall cost of $35,000-75,000 per year depending on the institution and location.
Some institutions provide financial aid to their students to help cover tuition or room and board costs. Unfortunately, most schools only allocate a minor amount of financial aid to international students. Therefore, it is worthwhile to consider other sources to help cover the costs of studying in the U.S.
International graduate students have three main sources of funding to consider when looking to study in the U.S.
- Institutional aid: Financial aid is usually given in small amounts to international students, but it is still worthwhile to see what your school may be able to cover. While it is likely too late for students to obtain aid for this school year, students should still check with their institution for details, eligibility requirements, and deadlines.
- Grants and scholarships: Scholarships can be a great and free way to pay for school. There are hundreds of scholarships for international students, and each one is usually focused on a specific area of study, hobby, cultural background, or other factor. To successfully get a scholarship, you must go through an application process with the organization or institution that offers it. Besides scholarships, grants are another great way to pay for school. While many of them are very competitive to obtain, such as the Fulbright scholarship, they can sometimes cover nearly all expenses of studying in the U.S.
- Loans: Private international student loans are usually available; however, international students typically need a U.S. citizen to serve as a cosigner on the loan. A cosigner could be a relative, friend, or spouse, and they take on financial responsibility to pay back the loan should the student fail to do so. Most people seek to cover their school costs through institutional aid, scholarships, and personal savings, but private loans can help cover the remaining costs in the event that other sources are not enough.
Scholarship Search Tips
When looking for scholarships, there are several things students can do to help their search.
- Leverage international databases: There are international databases of loans that are specifically geared towards international students. International students may want to look at the International Student Scholarship Source and IFFA Scholarship & Loan Search for resources.
- Read the fine print: International students should make sure to carefully read scholarship requirements before applying, to ensure they meet eligibility requirements and that the scholarship is genuine. Additionally, students should stay on top of scholarship deadlines to make sure they apply in time.
- Stay organized with a scholarship spreadsheet: When applying to many scholarships, it can be easy to mix up their deadlines and application requirements. By using a spreadsheet, students can organize the scholarships and keep track of which ones they have applied to.
Major Scholarships You Can Apply for Right Now
There are several prominent scholarships that international graduate students can still apply for right now:
- The AAUW International Fellowship for Female Graduate Students covers between $20,000-50,000 of funding, and is for female students who intend to return to their home country to pursue a professional career.
- The Fulbright Foreign Student Program for Graduate Students is a major scholarship that is awarded to 4,000 students each year.
- The International Fulbright Science and Technology Award is a STEM-specific scholarship for international graduate students.
- The P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship awards amounts up to $12,500 to international women students pursuing graduate studies in the U.S. or Canada.
- The Asian Cultural Council Graduate Scholarship provides a stipend to students from Asia pursuing graduate degrees in the U.S., with priority given to students who do not have comparable programs at home and those studying in fields that are underrepresented in their native country.
- The American-Scandinavian Foundation offers over $500,000 in funding to Scandinavians to undertake study or research programs, usually at the graduate level, in the U.S. for up to one year.
Besides these featured scholarships and grants, there are many others listed on the Interstride web application, under student services. Login to Interstride to access the complete list of scholarships.
Despite the cost of studying in the U.S., international graduate students may be able to mitigate some of the costs through aid, scholarships, grants, and loans. Students can also leverage their on-campus work, Curricular Practical Training, and internships to help save money for school. While it can be costly to be an international student, there are some effective ways to help reduce the costs of studying in the U.S.