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Is there any way I study abroad in the USA for free?
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Hello there,

I'm a grade 12 student from Ethiopia, and I'm applying to Berea College. I have outstanding academics and show demonstrated financial need. If you know more about the college, can you tell me some ideas on how to apply in a way to increase my admission chances? Anything you can say from tips to admission rates would be greatly appreciated. It needn't only be about Berea; I just want some idea on how to study in the US without an expense from my own.

Admission
international
financial-aid

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First answering your last question.

Unless someone can point to the contrary there are only 7 American colleges that are completely need-blind and meet 100% of the financial need for international students. And they are Harvard, MIT, Amherst, Yale, and Princeton, Curtis Institute of Music, and the Minerva Program at KGI (which is an online school through the Keck Graduate school at the 5Cs in Claremont where you live in 7 countries). And there are 2 outside the US programs that are super excellent but super hard to get into. They are New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and Yale-NUS College, Singapore which I think have an admission rate of 2%, something like that.

The next tier of colleges are excellent top 20 schools but they are need-aware but provide 100% of financial need meaning, they will only consider you if they have room in their class but give priority to other International students who have the means to pay. They are:

Williams College – Need aware. Meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for all admitted international students.

California Institute of Technology – Need aware. Meets 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for selected admitted international students

Swathmore College – Need aware. Meets 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students

Stanford University – Need aware. Has a limited amount of financial aid for international students.

Davidson College – Need aware. Meets 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students.

Colgate University – Need aware. Meets 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students.

Vassar College – Need aware. Meets 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students.

University of Richmond – Need aware. Meets 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students.

Duke University – Need aware. Meets 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for a limited number of admitted international students.

There are of course many outside scholarships that together in conjunction with institution aid packages can facilitate an international student going to college for free, however, that requires more diligent research and the time and effort to apply to those individual scholarship programs.

https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/a-guide-to-scholarships-for-international-students

https://www.affordablecolleges.com/resources/scholarships-for-international-students/

https://www.edupass.org/paying-for-college/scholarships/databases/

https://www.iefa.org/

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/advice/scholarships-available-us-international-students

There is a misconception that International students have hundreds of college choices to study in America for free. That is not the case. The other thing you have to consider is that we are in the midst of a pandemic that has 6 million COVID-19 cases and 187,000 deaths and by the time regular decision applications are due some estimate us having 10 million cases and 400,000 deaths. You have to consider your health and that the USA policies for travel and issues student VISAs are a moving target. One thing that many students do not realize is that the cost of getting the proper VISA and permissions has increased. I think the F1 Visa fee is over $500.00 now due to Chad Wolf, head of Homeland Security raise all fees. There are not that many economical flight options to go to and from Ethiopia as well.

Also ICE/CBP are putting out confusing policies, such as when they tried to deport international students who weren't doing in person classes.
Thanks for the answer. But what about Berea? Do they accept African students? And about those 20 schools listed; does that mean I need to work only on the admission part? (I'm assuming once I get admitted, all my financial need is met)
Berea is a very small college of 1665 student and 127 international students. Each year they accept about 30 Int'l students. Its tuition free for the 1st year, then you pay more each subsequent year and you have to pay your own travel and VISA etc. Since the middle SAT score is 1000-1200 for 25% to 75% it is not a competitive school, very average stats.
If you have a 3.8-4.0 unweighted GPA and can test like 1400-1500 on the SAT or 32-34 on the ACT, and score above 100 on the TOEFL, I would only apply there as a SAFETY SCHOOL. You will need these kinds of grades to apply to the other schools and they meet 100% of financial aid needs ONCE you get in. And as long as you keep your grades up and have the same family situation, you will get a similar financial aid package for the following 3 years after the 1st one. Try for the better colleges!
Last thing, don't worry about being an African Student. It's cool and good to be an African student. No one is going to deny your application because you are from Africa. Be brave, be proud and be determined. Everything will work out.
Yes, almost every college accepts students from Africa! The majority of colleges (with the exception of Liberty University) are very welcoming of people from a variety of backgrounds and are proud of their racial, geographic, ethnic, and gender diversity.
Thanks a lot, @CameronBameron, I greatly appreciate it! You too, @adri, thanks for your suggestions!