4 months ago
Admissions Advice

Is taking a loan for college fees viable?

I am an international student and does that reduce my chances of getting funding in the form of a scholarship?

Generally, is it wise to take a loan for funding your higher education just after graduating from high school?

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Accepted Answer
4 months ago[edited]

The truth about financial aid for International Students is that US colleges are less inclined to fund them and there is far less money in the grant pool to fund them. Just as the best financial aid packages are available for the very best students who apply from the US, the same is true to a lesser degree for Int'l students. For example, if you are low income and qualify to get into an Ivy college or Elite college, these schools meet 100% of your need for Americans, but some of these schools become "Need Aware" or do not have any aid available for Int'l Students. Cornell and UPenn are need-aware for Int'l Students and Carnegie Mellon does not give financial aid to international students.

As you apply to less competitive schools the divide between Americans getting aid vs. Int'l students widens. At some less competitive schools, the aid available to Int'l Students might only cover a fraction of the total annual costs, say 10%-15% of the bill and you have to come up with the rest.

Getting a full-ride scholarship is a wonderful thing but the truth of the matter is that only a very low number say less than 5% of Int'l students get such a financial aid package. Most packages include a repayable loan component. Sometimes the loan component is from the University itself, other times it is from other sources. And sometimes, the college will require you to get the loans with your family in your own country.

Is it wise to get a loan? For some, it is a necessity because without a loan they would have no other option of attending college. For others, it might be a difficult choice they have to make in order to attend one school versus another school. So let's say you get into a T40 school but it will cost you $40,000 in loans per year and you get into a TOP 100 school and it will cost you $25,000 per year. Only you and your family can decide if it is worth going into debt another $60,000 to attend the higher ranked school or not.

My advice is unorthodox so take it with a grain of salt. If you are an International Student and not at the top of your game say your GPA is less than 3.5 and your test scores are not impressive and you haven't done much with ECs and your writing skills are lacking, I would recommend taking a Gap Year and repeating all the coursework that is holding down your GPA and using that time to improve your test scores and writing ability. Then the binary question becomes would you rather apply to college with a higher probability of getting a scholarship or better financial aid package vs. settling for a less college and a lesser financial aid package.

If you permit yourself to the time to "do-over" what you didn't excel that and get to where you want to be, isn't that better than just following the crowds and getting denied and having to deal with the consequences of perhaps not being able to attend college without some great costs? Only you can make that decision.

Good luck.


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