2 months ago
Admissions Advice

Good STEM safety schools with financial aid for international students

Hey everyone!

I am looking to expand my college list with some backups. The most important criteria is good financial aid for international students, because I can't pay for college in the US. My ideal safety school would have a strong maths program and a good student body. I am not really concerned with setting or sports teams, so besides financial aid, I am willing to compromise.

Thanks in advance! :)

🎉 First post
Let’s welcome @AlexB to the community! Remember to be kind, helpful, and supportive in your responses.

Earn karma by helping others:

1 karma for each ⬆️ upvote on your answer, and 20 karma if your answer is marked accepted.

1 answer

Accepted Answer
2 months ago[edited]

There is no such thing as a safety school that has good need-based financial aid for low-income international students. There are perhaps some MERIT aid opportunities for certifiable geniuses with 99%+scores. Often that requires a separate Merit Scholarship process.

Since all international students do not qualify for federal Pell grants, state grants, or federal work-study programs that means one is $15,000 +- less attractive an option each year to any college as an Intl student. Over 4 years, that's over $60,000 in additional funding a college has to shell out to admit each international student requiring financial assistance.

Even various community colleges in the US require that you are funded prior to gaining acceptance. Some set a minimum of $20,000 or $25,000 for International students meaning that you have to sign a financial aid declaration when you apply that your family will cover the first $20,000 or $25,000 per year because they have limited resources to fund international students.

It is a common misconception among international applicants that full rides are abundantly available. They are not. The only low-income international students that get fully funded are the extremely talented ones. So if you have near-perfect grades, test scores, course rigor, evidence of intellectual vitality, the best recommendations, the best essays, amazing awards, and honors, and have some unique spike activity, the chances are high you are going to end up at either fully funded at the best colleges in the US. Alternatively, there are US colleges that have a few spots available for those in the 99% th percentile of applicants under a merit scholarship award (and these schools' GPA/SAT/ACT/essays/recommendation to determine these) such as William&Mary, UVA, Washington&Lee, etc. 99% percentile test scores, in any case, are often part of the criteria.

Low-income international students have 2 major challenges.

1.) a lack of resources to pursue an expensive American undergraduate education.

2.) a lack of resources to put together a compelling college application with competitive grades, course rigor, ECs, recommendations, essays, awards, honors, etc.

Rich international students only have the latter problem. So when a pool of students applies from Mumbai or Seoul or Beijing, say to the University of Washington, since it's a state college, they only have a limited amount of money to support international students. In this case, it's easy to understand that they are going to accept a higher proportion of wealthy students who can afford to pay most of their attendance costs versus giving a break to someone who needs a full ride.

This is the same problem for Americans as well. If you live in Washington, then your cost to attend UofW is exponentially cheaper than if you apply from a neighboring State like Idaho or Oregon. UofW is not chartered to subsidize the higher education of other out-of-State students, so they are going to charge the out-of-state kids $60,000, not $30,000. So poor local kids will get decent financial aid if they qualify for a Pell grant, state grant, and work-study. UofW only has to make up $15,000 a year in institutional aid or loans. But the kid from Idaho who comes from the same financial background has only $15K out of $60K covered each year. So UofW will not be able to make up the 45K gap and welcome out-of-state poor kids with open arms. There is no interstate reciprocity so most low-income students end up going to CC or state schools within their own home state.

I'm sharing this with you because Int'l students are treated very much like out-of-state applicants when applying to large public research universities like Michigan, UVA, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UIUC, etc. They just do not have state funding to cover the gap created because they charge 3X the tuition for out-of-state applicants.


Community Guidelines

To keep this community safe and supportive:

  1. Be kind and respectful!
  2. Keep posts relevant to college admissions and high school.
  3. Don’t ask “chance-me” questions. Use CollegeVine’s chancing instead!

How karma works