How do I Afford a U.S. College or University?

If you are an international student looking to attend college in the United States you will need to find some way of paying for it. As the U.S. government only provides support to U.S. citizens through the FAFSA submission, what are some options for you to help realize your dream of attending college in the U.S.?

Understand how much a U.S. education may cost for you, and then get help paying for it!

Understand how much a U.S. education may cost for you, and then get help paying for it!

Understand the Cost

There are a lot of things that factor into what you will pay to attend college in the U.S. Obviously there is the price of college itself, but you will need to consider living arrangements, transportation costs, food, books and general living expenses.

When you look at colleges on you can see detailed prices on many of the school-related costs. For example, here is the detailed cost break down for attending the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.

Finding the Right School

When evaluating schools, you must keep several criteria in mind such as the quality of the school, the international student population, and finances. Some schools may be very friendly to international students and host a large population such as Columbia University in New York, the University of Southern California and Carnegie Mellon in Pennsylvania. However, these schools are also some of the most expensive.

If finding a quality school within a certain budget is your goal, take a look at these top affordable colleges for international students. These schools all rank highly while offering a much more affordable college experience. As a general rule, colleges on the east and west coast will be much more expensive than those in the central areas of the country.

Finding Aid

Once you’ve researched some schools and have an idea of what you are looking for, there are numerous resources you can use to help secure aid. This financial aid can come from certain schools themselves, or from programs in your home country.

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is used for U.S. citizens to apply for federal student aid. However, some colleges will require that international students use the same form to determine their financial need. It is best to talk to colleges you are interested in to determine if they require the use of the FAFSA and if so, how you should submit it. As the FAFSA requires a U.S. social security number it may be difficult to submit the FAFSA through the government processor. Some colleges may have you fill out the form and submit it directly to them for evaluation.

A fair number of colleges in the U.S. will support international students by offering financial aid. Many of these offers will be based on merit and can eliminate a large chunk of the cost of attending.

Scholarships and grants are another option but may be tied to many requirements of which you may or may not qualify. Some are based on your home country or the chosen major you will be studying. You can find several sites online which offer a listing of international scholarships such as

If the above tips don’t work, you may need to request the assistance of your friends or family to help pay. 

Being Smart

There is no doubt that a U.S. education is expensive, but it is also highly valued throughout the world. Most international students find that it is worth the expense and will find scholarships, grants and other financial help to make it affordable. 

To make sure you are getting the best return on your investment, choose a school that is highly ranked for your desired program, and produces high quality outcomes for the money spent.

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