Financing your Education

Financing your Education



Financing your Undergraduate Education in the United States

When applying to study in the United States and you might wonder how to finance your studies.  Colleges and universities offer financial support through the following types of scholarships:

MERIT-BASED SCHOLARSHIPS – awarded for high academic achievements, regardless of a student’s financial situation

NEED-BASED SCHOLARSHIPS – awarded for academic achievements and financial situation

ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS – awarded for outstanding athletic ability, for students to participate on the college or university sports team

The competition for these scholarships is very steep, as is admission to the colleges and universities offering them.  Consider the steps below to improve your chances of obtaining financial aid and scholarships to finance your undergraduate education in the United States. For more information on Athletic Scholarship please go to:·        

How much can you and your family afford to pay for your education, per year for each year you’re in school? Keep in mind that you cannot select suitable universities or qualify for need-based aid unless you know the answer to this question. Financial aid calculations are based on bridging the gap between the cost of attending the college or university and what you and your family can afford to pay. Start the application process early. Calculate your financial need at the beginning of the research process. And remember, to keep your application competitive, don’t ask for more than you genuinely need.

In the United States, a few colleges and universities offer admission irrespective of the applicant’s financial situation and ability to pay for their studies.  This is referred to as “need-blind admission.”  Once the student is admitted, the college then determines what they are able to offer the student for financial support.  In most cases, this means that the institution will be able to meet the fully demonstrated financial need of the student, offering "full-need" financial aid.

As you can imagine, the colleges and universities offering need-blind admissions are very competitive. Here are examples of such universities:

1.      Amherst College

2.      Harvard University

3.      Yale University

4.      Princeton University

5.      Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

6.      Stanford University

What about schools that don’t have need-blind admission?

In order to be accepted and obtain financial aid, you’ll need to submit a very competitive application for admission.  Start by researching your options and carefully selecting of 10 - 20 schools that match your needs and potential.  Each school has its own budget and policy for admission and financial aid.  After extensive online research, contact your top schools directly about financial assistance.

Distinguish yourself from other highly competitive applicants by:

o   carefully selecting schools where you have a realistic opportunity for admission with financial aid

o   demonstrating a distinguished academic record and excellent admission test scores (if required)

o   demonstration leadership skills, extra-curricular interests, and community involvement

o   writing great essays

o   preparing a neat and complete application.



10 Tips to Applying to Graduate School

Are you thinking of studying in a graduate program in the United States?  Did you know that application deadlines for admission to most graduate schools fall between early December and mid-January? Now is a great time to begin preparing your application to start your graduate program in September 2012.  To help you get ready, we recommend the following ten tips for applying to graduate school:

1. Research your options and find the right match. Research the graduate programs available at U.S. colleges and universities in your chosen field of study.  Check out the department’s website and review the faculty and their research and publications, the descriptions of the courses available, the admission requirements, and financial aid options.  Then, evaluate your academic achievements and financial contribution in relation to what each school requires.  Make a list of the names of the universities you’ll be applying to, required documents, and the admission deadline.

2. Improve your chances for admission to a graduate program.  Universities receive many applications and often cannot accommodate all qualified applicants.  Plan to submit applications to 3 - 5 universities to increase your chances.  You may decide which institution to attend after you receive your acceptance letter, I-20 and financial award from several universities.

3. Submit your test scores to the appropriate departments. At the graduate level, all U.S. universities will require TOEFL or IELTS scores.  In some fields, GRE scores (general and subject tests) or GMAT scores may also be required.  Some institutions require that you submit your test scores to more than one office at the university.  Make sure you know where you want your test scores to be sent before you take the test.

4. Carefully select who will write your letters of recommendation.Most colleges and universities require two to three letters of recommendation for graduate admission. These letters are a way for the admission office to gain personal insight into how others view your intellectual capacity, achievements, work ethic, and social skills. Personal references are an opportunity for someone else to reveal things about you that you cannot reveal about yourself—a supportive letter written by a credible source is not seen as pretentious, but rather as a compelling reason to admit you. Select a professor who can elaborate on your scholarly achievements, an employer who can vouch for your work ethic, and a personal reference who can discuss your personal attributes. 

5. Prepare outstanding essays.  At the graduate level, most universities require a personal statement or statement of purpose in the application for admission. These essays represent the best opportunities for an applicant to distinguish him/herself from other applicants. While there will be many other applicants with the same standardized test scores and grades, there will be no one else with your essay, which lets the admissions officers get to know you and your educational goals. Your essays should reflect how the institution is a good match for your academic interests and how your experience will contribute to the program. Plan ahead: producing a good essay takes time and patience. While an outstanding essay may not negate very low test scores or grades, a very good essay can certainly boost your chances of being accepted by a graduate program.

6. Highlight your experience.If you take part in an internship, volunteer work, or other long-term activities as part of your career exploration, be sure to add this information to your applications. Many business and management programs require that you submit resume or curriculum vitae (CV).  Highlighting your work experience can improve your chances of admission.

7. Prepare your complete application.Each university has its own admission requirements. Make a check list of the documents, forms and test scores required for each institution where you are applying. Typically, most of the required application materials can be submitted online, including the application for financial aid. If you are uncertain about the methods of submission accepted by the university or academic department, don’t hesitate to email the international student admission office and request support. Complete the admission application form, have all your academic documents translated/stamped by the appropriate ministries, and have your required test scores sent directly to the university, following all of the directions at the TOEFL/IELTS/GRE websites.

8. Submit your application on time. Each university has its own admission procedures and deadlines.  Deadlines are strictly enforced and universities will not accept students who apply after the deadline, regardless of their qualifications.  We recommend that you apply at least two weeks to one month before the deadline so that the university can inform you of any further documentation they may need. If you miss the deadline or send an incomplete application, you will most likely not be considered for admission, therefore try to submit all of your documents as early as you can to increase your chances for admission.

9. Request financial aid.There are many financial aid opportunities for graduate education available directly from the universities. The availability of financial aid from universities depends on the field of study and type of institution; it is also highly competitive. Many international students finance their U.S. graduate education through fellowships or assistantships offered by the university. The admission office can answer questions related to the admission fees and financial assistance available to international students. In order to be considered for financial aid, be sure to send your financial aid application along with the admission application and all other required documents. Some university’s ‘Financial Aid Form’ is separate from the application form for admission. 

10. Identify all financial aid opportunities.Applicants that are receiving external grants may seem more attractive to universities. Plan ahead, research all possible funding sources, apply for as many funding opportunities as possible for which you qualify, and budget carefully to ensure you will have enough funding to complete your degree program.   Even if you are applying for financial aid from the university, improve your chances of admission by demonstrating that you are looking for all possible sources for financial assistance. Proof of financial support is an important part of your application for admission process.


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