Step 1: Determine the Student's Visa Status & Residency
Why it matters:
Most non-US Citizens or Permanent Residents (green card holders) are not eligible for state/federal financial aid and aren't eligible for in-state residency for tuition purposes. However, there are exceptions that may change the situation.
StudentAid.gov guidelines for aid:
U.S citizens, permanent residents (Green Card), and some special visa categories are eligible for state & federal financial aid. Typical international students on F, M, or J Visas are not eligible.
All US Visa types: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-typeall.asp
CUNY Non-Citizen Eligibility: http://www2.cuny.edu/financial-aid/student-eligibility/non-citizen-eligibility/
The most common student visas for international students are the F, J, & M visas.
J Visas are for student exchange programs-- usually either short term university exchange programs, or programs like Fulbright. J Visa students usually have a 2-year requirement to return to their home country, and have limitations on staying & working in the U.S. after their studies.
F Visas are the typical student visas that most international students study on.
M Visas are for students studying less than bachelor-degree technical programs such as Assoc. of Applied Science (AAS) degrees at community colleges.
Typical Situations for International Students
International students in College Point generally fall into a couple of categories:
- Attending a public or private high school in the U.S., but parents who live in their home country.
- Visa type: Typically F or J
2. Parents work or study in the U.S. and student studies at U.S. high school.
- Visa type: Depending on whether the parents work or study and who their employer is, it can vary!
3. One or both parents live in U.S., but student attends high school in a foreign country.
- Visa type: Usually student is a US citizen, but it's not clear if they will qualify for in-state tuition at their public university based on residency.
Typical State Rules for Establishing Residency precludes international students from establishing residency even if they attend high school for multiple years.
However, in Texas and maybe?? Minnesota, if international students meet certain criteria, them may gain in-state tuition to certain universities.
UT Austin: https://admissions.utexas.edu/residency
Step 2: Understand the Financial Landscape for International Bachelors Students in the U.S.
What they are going to get?
International students on non-immigrant visas such as (F or J student visas) are not eligible for state or federal financial aid. Basically they are just eligible for institutional aid, outside scholarships, and private loans. In addition, international students pay out-of-state tuition at public schools. Thus, affordable colleges for international students are limited, especially for families who can't contribute anything at all financially.
Financially Affordable Options
1. Look through the private universities that provide aid to international students
Private universities are typically the best options for international students. Most of the more financially generous colleges also provide substantial institutional financial aid for international students. However, some schools like Carnegie Mellon, U Mich, UNC, UVA, that provide aid for American students, don't provide aid for international students.
2. Public Exceptions
A. International students living in Texas can get in-state tuition if they meet certain criteria including attending & graduating from a TX high school for three years.
UT Austin: https://admissions.utexas.edu/residency
B. Other Public Schools providing in-state tuition or other benefits to international students
However, keep in mind that just because a university offers in-state tuition, doesn't mean that the international student qualifies for any need-based financial aid.
Texas State University- Any intl student who qualifies for an Assured Scholarship
UT Dallas- Any intl student who qualifies for a competitive scholarship
Eastern Michigan University (MI)- National Scholars Program
St. Cloud State (MN)
Minnesota State University, Mankato (MN)
Minnesota State University Moorhead
New Mexico State University-- offer “waiver scholarships” to some international students to pay for the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition.
Southern Arkansas State University-- offer “waiver scholarships” to some international students to pay for the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition.
University of Montevallo in Alabama-- grants in-state tuition to any applicant making a 23C ACT or better.
Truman State University (MO)- low out of state tuition of under $15K.
Step 3: Research Colleges that may be financially affordable
Most generous-- these are colleges who give most of their international applicants financial aid awards for full tuition or more.
Next Options- these are colleges that give generous financial aid to international students, but only to some of their students.
For Intl students who can pay $10-20K- Intl students who can pay $10-20K per year have a lot of options in the U.S. These colleges give less generous financial aid offers, but they still may be affordable for some international students.
Step 4: Advise the student through the Admissions and Financial Aid Process
Generally, admissions for international students is the same as for domestic students. Most universities, who may be need-blind for domestic students, are not need-blind when it comes to international students, but in general, admissions criteria are the same and include test scores, transcripts & grades, essays, recommendations, and extracurricular activities.
How to Apply for Financial Aid
International students don't fill out the FAFSA, so institutions use one of 3 ways to get financial information from international students:
1. An institutional financial aid form (available on the website of each school)
2. The College Board International Student Financial Aid Application (ISFAA) form
3. The CSS Profile (see which universities use the CSS Profile for international students).
The Visa & The Certification of Finances Process
While international students apply and are admitted in a very similar process compared to domestic students, the enrollment process is different.
1. Student applies for admission & financial aid and receives admission letters.
2. Student receives financial aid award letter
3. Student submits certification of finances to the college they decide on.
4. University provides student with I-20 form.
5. Student applies for student visa at local U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country using the I-20 form issued by university.
6. Student passes visa interview, arrives in the U.S. (no more than 30 days before the start of their program) and begins classes.
Step 5: Make students aware of their work & post-graduation options
Working while studying
International students are limited in how much & where they can work. Limitations also depend on wether thy come on a J or F visa. Students on both visas can work part-time on-campus employment is allowed during periods of full study. The difference between the two arises during periods of recess. During periods of recess, students holding F1 status may work full time. Students holding J1 status may also work full time however, they will require the permission of their Alternate Responsible Officer (OISS advisor).
Job restrictions and options after graduation
International students studying on F, J, or M visas face serious restrictions in their ability to stay in the U.S. post-graduation.
The two three main ways that students can remain in the U.S. are:
1. OPT (temporary job for 1 year or 3 years for STEM graduates)
2. Permanent Job (H1B visa)
3.Continue their studies