Because sources of financial aid to study in the US are scarce, you will have to be resourceful and explore all possibilities. In addition to the sources listed below, we recommend searching the FastWeb database, because it is free and has good coverage of the awards available for international students.
Help from Your Home Country
One of the best sources of financial aid to study in the US is organizations in your own country. The nearest educational advising center may have information about local sources of support. Your own government may have financial aid available. (Usually this support requires that you return home after your education is complete.) Contact the cultural section of your embassy or your ministry of education for more information, since there are many awards which require you to be nominated by your government. There may also be private organizations in your home country that provide support for study in the US.
Aid from International Organizations
Of the few private scholarships for international students, most require that you apply from your home country. If you are already in the US you might not be eligible. So you should search for financial aid prior to arriving in the US. Some international organizations offer funding for graduate students to study in the US. These include the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), AMIDEAST, the International Maritime Organization, the International Telecommunications Union, the League of Red Cross Societies, the Soros Foundation, the World Health Organization, and the World Council of Churches. These awards are very competitive. Ful bright scholarships are awarded to about 4,700 graduate students worldwide each year. Applicants are required to take the TOEFL and GRE or GMAT exams. Professional education, such as medical studies, is not eligible. Fulbright students are required to be on J-1 visas for the duration of their sponsorship. For information about applying to the Fulbright Program in your country, contact the nearest US embassy or consulate, Fulbright Commission office, or educational advising center . The US Information Agency maintains information about studying in the US, the Fulbright program, and the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, in the Educational and Cultural Exchange section of their web site, including Fulbright Commission contact information for most countries. For more information, call 1-202-619-4355, fax 1-202-619-6988, write to United States Information Agency, Office of Public Liaison, 301 4th Street, SW, Room 602, Washington, DC 20547, or contact Globizz Education or send email to or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aid from the US Government
Please note that the US government student assistance programs, including the Pell Grant, Stafford and PLUS loans, and work-study programs, are not available to international students. However aid may be available from the US government for students from specific countries. Your best bet for finding out if there is any financial aid from the US for students from your country is to contact your embassy, the US Department of State, and the US Information Agency. You should also write to the Agency for International Development, Office of International Training, Washington, DC 20523 or contact Globizz Education.
Aid from US Educational Institutions
Financial aid for international undergraduate students is extremely rare. Foreign graduate students have significantly more opportunities for financial aid than foreign undergraduate students. The amount of financial aid for foreign graduate students is very limited. For more information, please see the list of schools with financial aid for international undergraduate students. Some US schools have direct exchange programs with their counterparts in foreign countries. Such exchange programs often include financial aid for the international student. To find out about these programs, ask your local university. International students who intend to enroll in a graduate or postdoctoral program at a US University should contact the schools that interest them. Ask the relevant departments and the university's Financial Aid Office about financial aid for international students. Most support for graduate study in the US by international students is provided by the schools themselves in the form of teaching and research assistantships. These assistantships are based on academic merit, not financial need. The school will probably require you to pass the Test of Spoken English (TSE) to qualify for a teaching assistantship. Financial aid is not available for English as a Second Language courses, so you should have a TOEFL (iBT - Internet Based Test) score of at least 100 to qualify for financial aid. If all else is equal, the student with the better English skills will get the financial aid.
Aid from Private US Organizations and Sponsors
There is very little financial aid for international students available from private sources, such as foundations and individual sponsors.
Assistance from Your Family
You may most likely have to rely on your own assets, your parent's money, and contributions from relatives.
Schools with Financial Aid for International Undergraduate Students
Some US schools are more likely than others to offer financial aid for international undergraduate students. The lists below indicate which schools offer aid (including grants, loans, and jobs) to the largest numbers of international students. The lists are based on a list compiled by Douglas C. Thompson, Associate Vice President for Enrollment, The Culinary Institute of America. For inclusion, the schools must have an average award that is greater than 1/5 of the cost of attendance. The financial aid may include grants, loans, and jobs, and often includes both merit and need-based awards. Within each group, schools are listed alphabetically. If a school is not listed here, it probably does not have much financial aid for international students.