There is over $143 billion in financial aid available for study in the US, and approximately two thirds of full-time undergraduate students receive some type of grant aid. Additionally, one third of international undergraduate students report a scholarship as their PRIMARY source of funding.
US universities award funding on the basis of financial need (often called grants) and/or merit (scholarships), as well as sports scholarships. Most funding will be renewable from year-to-year, based on maintaining specified academic standards or grades. Every year over 900 US universities offer international students scholarships of $10,000 or more. Of these 900 universities, 195 offer scholarships of $20,000-$30,000 per year, 80 offer scholarships between $30,000-$40,000 per year, 105 offer scholarships greater than $40,000 per year and 183 offer a ‘full ride'.
If college affordability is a key consideration for your university selections, you may wish to choose universities that offer scholarships for UK / international students. You can find this information on the universities' admissions or financial aid web pages.
We encourage you to also use search engines such as those below which allow you to search for universities, based on whether they offer funding to international students:
Merit is usually evaluated on the basis of strong academic performance (as demonstrated by your admissions test scores and results from Year 10 - 13 as reported in your transcript). However, merit can include talent in performing arts (for students majoring in these fields), as well as other admissions criteria such as community service participation or extracurricular involvement.
You will want to make sure you apply to universities where you have well above the average admissions test results and marks of admitted students, as funding is often reserved for top students. These average figures should be readily available on university websites and their financial aid pages or using search engines.
Some scholarships are also awarded based on specific personal qualities outlined by the university or an individual donor or sponsor. These qualities often correlate to the mission of the organization or interests of the donor and could include country of origin, ethnicity, religious faith, interest in a particular field, gender, interests, talents, etc.
US universities offer aid based upon (significant) financial need. Financial need is often assessed based upon information about you and your family's financial standing on the College Board's Profile form or FAFSA form
External funding bodies may include a wide range of professional, charitable or government organizations that have a vested interest in educating members of society. Often, scholarships from external funding bodies can be thought of as niche scholarships, as they may be based on very specific personal qualities outlined by the funding body in addition to academic merit or financial need. These qualities often correlate to the mission of the organization and could include country of origin, ethnicity, religious faith, interest in a particular field, gender, interests, talents, etc.
There are thousands of funding bodies. If you are unique in any way (and by simply being an international student, you will be!), there is likely a funding body with scholarships out there for you.
These scholarships search engines are a great place to start your search for external funding bodies:
Institute for International Education - Funding for US Study
EducationUSA Scholarship Search for International Students
International Education Financial Aid
Study Abroad Funding
International Student Organization
When considering a loan to finance education, be sure to examine carefully all of the terms and conditions of the loan. Explore repayment options, as the conditions of each loan scheme will vary. Interest rates may also add to the total cost of the loan, particularly if it is accrued while you are studying. Although you might find all of the general information about costs and interest rates when enquiring about a particular loan scheme, it is important to read the fine print before signing any agreement.
Unfortunately, you will not be able to use your UK student loan from the UK government to fund your studies in the US. However, you may apply for a personal loan from a UK bank. We recommend students and parents first contact their current bank and then shop around at other high street banks and lenders.
Please note a loan from a UK bank will likely be a personal loan rather than a student loan. This means you will need to begin making payments during your studies and that the interest rate will likely be higher than a student loan.
The availability of US-based loans for international students is limited. The two exceptions are American or dual citizens (see below) and international students who have a creditworthy US citizen or permanent resident who can co-sign on the loan with them. These students should contact the university's financial aid office for a list of local banks and lenders commonly used by students. Though these loans will have a higher interest rate than US federal loans (below), they will be student loans, meaning you can defer payment until the end of your studies.
Please note, if you (the student) are an American or dual US-UK citizen, you can apply for US federal loans through the FAFSA website. US federal loans generally offer the lowest interest rates and are student loans, meaning you can defer payment until the end of your studies. The financial aid office should have information on how to complete these forms.
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