a year ago
Admissions Advice

As an international student what are my financial aid options?

As an international student, financial aid is the only reason that will hold me back from going to university in the US after being accepted. (The exchange rate for USD is too high) What can I do about this? Is there a guarantee that the university will provide me with all the financial aid I need when I apply? I can't seem to find any outside scholarships for international students.

I'm in my junior year.

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Accepted Answer
a year ago

Unless you are an exceptional high school student with excellent grades, course rigor, ECs, test scores, recommendations, essays, and evidence of intellectual vitality, it will be difficult to get a full ride into an American university or college.

In the US, we have 2 basic groups of colleges, Public and Private. The public ones are chartered and mandated to accommodate the most highly qualified students that live in the state of the college. So in the case of UC schools in California, their first priority is filling seats with Californians, 2nd is out-of-state students from places like Oregon, Washington, Texas, and NY. And their third priority is Int'l students. Therefore, it's harder to get in these days if you are out-of-state or an Int'l student and you have to pay top $$$ premium fees compared to CA residents. I think the fee premium is $31-32,000 US at a UC school if you are not a resident. So that's like $125,000 over 4 years.

The 2nd kind of college is Private. It costs about $50,000 more in financial aid for a college to fund an Int'l student because they do not qualify for Federal Pell Grants, State Grants, and other types of aid such as Health Insurance. So a poor kid from CA applying to UPenn or Cornell will be preferred over a poor Int'l kid because it costs the school about $50,000 over 4 years. So unless the college is rich with billions of dollars in endowment fees and special programs to accommodate Int'l students, 99% of colleges do not make Int'l students a priority. Therefore, only the very best private college that happens to be wealthy gives full rides and meets 100% of the financial needs of an Int'l student.

Just because a college meets 100% of the admitted applicants' financial needs doesn't mean the money is free. Often a financial aid package includes both grants which you don't have to repay back and loans, either private or institutional, which you do have to repay back. So it's important to understand that if you do apply to a good school, maybe not the best ones like the University of Miami, Syracuse University, Tulane, NorthEastern, and USC, you are most likely going to get a financial aid package which meets close to 100% of your need but is packaged up with loans you have to repay.

So the only schools I know of that offer great financial aid to Int'l students like a full ride or 80-90% of a full ride if you are smart and poor are the following:

Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Barnard, Dartmouth, Amherst, Williams, Skidmore, Swarthmore, Stanford, Cal-Tech, MIT, Washington & Lee, Bowdoin, Vassar, Duke, Haverford, Wellesley (women's college), University of Richmond, Colgate, Davidson, SOKA, Wesleyan, Pomona, Vanderbilt, Middlebury, and Trinity College.

Brown will be need-blind by 2025 (class of 2029) and Cornell and UPenn are not need-blind but need-aware so your parent's ability to fund your education is factored into the admissions process. Nevertheless, expect Brown, Cornell, and UPenn to have 80-90% financial aid if you qualify.

Good luck.

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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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