Hi!! Should I apply early? As an international student I cannot afford college, but some universities offer financial aid. I wanna know too if I don't get any scholarship or grant, do I have to go to that university?
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My first word of advice if you need a lot of financial aid to attend US colleges (let's say over 50,000 out of the Estimated 80,000 per year cost), is to do your research ahead of time and make sure that the school has a documented track record of giving out enough financial aid to admits. There are not many choices of the 3200 4 year colleges that do, about 25-50 tops. You can look up what the avg. financial aid package is on each colleges Common Data Set. Just google the college name and CDS and you'll get a link on the search results.
Secondly, if the college you are applying to doesn't give 100% full ride tuition room and board grants, don't assume you are going to get one because facts are facts. So if you apply to UPittsburgh, you might only get 50% and that's a good financial aid package for UPittsburgh. Unfortunately 90% of the best colleges that give financial aid are also extremely hard to get into like Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford. (Cornell and UPenn are Need Aware for Int'l students so you are not going to get a full ride there most likely)
I would only opt in for an ED early decision or SCREA, if I know the school gives out good financial aid. Otherwise, if you get into a ED school like NotreDame or NYU, then you are obligated to attend. And since you already know you might not be able to afford much, you will have to negotiate with the school to relieve you of the obligation by citing your inability to pay the difference. That process takes time and effort and truly not necessary to complicate the already stressful time of applying to colleges. They won't like it and you won't like it. Remember, college is a sellers market. They don't care if you attend or not because there are another 500 waiting in line on a waiting list to take your place if you don't pay up. After you get in ED somewhere, if there is a 10 or 20 thousand dollar gap per year in attending, colleges have no obligation to give you more financial aid to accommodate you. Just keep that in mind.
Therefore, in conclusion, do your research and only apply to colleges that have a known track record of giving international students enough aid to attend the college without the burden of having to take out a bunch of loans from your country.
I believe you should apply as soon as you can!
Applying early can be beneficial, but you have to be careful when applying early as some unis have restrictions like if you get into that uni through early admissions, you HAVE to attend that university. Scolarships and grants are not the only way to get financial backing for unioversity there are a lot of other ways and a lot of other prople other than universities who offer scholarships and grants, just keep your eyes open for any oppurtunity that might arise for securing financial aid for collage. As a whole getting or not getting scholarships from the uni shouldnt ne a big matter as there are lot of other ways to secure financial aid.
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