So you have to pay out-of-state tuition. I know, it sucks. Still, there is a lot you can do as an international student to help mitigate the costs of studying abroad.
Scholarships and international student loans are of course step one. The problem is scholarships for international students can be hypercompetitive. That’s because there are simply far fewer places to apply even though over a million international students come to the U.S annually.
Still, there are a lot of international students who can do to secure a scholarship prior to leaving for the U.S.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
Start Early, Apply Often
One key to applying for scholarships as an international student is to apply early and apply often. This is important because many times submitting your application before the priority deadline can help your chances of getting a scholarship by moving your application to the top of the stack.
Applying early and at as many places as possible can also help you avoid last-minute disasters/technical errors. The last thing you want to be doing as an international student is struggling to write your essay days before the scholarship deadline.
Finally, applying early can help reduce stress in one of the most stressful times in your life. College should be a time to focus on your studies and that means time management when it comes to the lengthy scholarship application process.
Use your Resources
The next step for international students seeking scholarships is to use all available resources. That means completing A LOT of forms and applications. The scholarship application process is long and difficult, but thinking of it as a job is a great way to overcome the struggle.
Remember, the reality is you are getting paid to fill out these scholarship applications. They can save you thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, so taking some extra time to make sure things are right is worth it.
There are a number of great resources out there for international students. The first place to look is always at your University. Many of the most common target schools for international students in the U.S, like Arizona State University who accepts around 12,000 international students annually, have programs designed to help students find scholarships. ASU’s Financial Aid Resources for Students Regardless of Immigration Status, for example, is a great resource.
There are also a number of websites that can help with your search for scholarships to apply to include: Cappex.com, InternationalStudent.com, International Education Financial Aid(IEFA) and studyusa.com
Find Scholarships Meant For You
Finding scholarships that are right for you can be a challenge even with the resources above. After you’ve looked into school-specific scholarships and browsed through some lists of common scholarships at the sites above. It pays to look into private scholarships and lesser ‘reward’ scholarships which may only pay a couple hundred or thousand dollars, but anything helps.
Some of these come from random private companies seeking to market their products, like Lasik’s(yes, the eye surgery company) reward scholarship for international students. These scholarships usually have less stringent requirements and in Lasik’s case, all that is required is a small application and 500-700 word essay.
Even better than scholarships from unrelated private companies, some private international student loan institutions offer great scholarships. For example, MPOWER Financing offers a number of impressive scholarships for international students and DACA (Dream Act) students.
Make Sure Your Application Is Flawless
Now that you’ve found where to apply, the final step in securing a scholarship as an international student is making sure your applications are flawless.
If you aren’t an English speaker this may mean asking for some help.
Of course, you have to write your own essay, but getting help from a fluent English speaker can make you feel a lot more secure about your application’s chances.
This is where preparing ahead of time can make things easier, you don’t want to be stuck last minute with five applications to complete. You also need to give time to your reviewer so they can fully read and review your essays.
If you can’t find an English speaker to help you correct your applications, you can at least utilize services like Grammarly or submit your essays to a free review site on the internet. Of course, you may be in a country that doesn’t allow US links, so don’t be afraid to use a VPN to get all the resources you need.
The fact is, over 1 million international students came to the U.S to study last year, according to the 2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. That means serious competition for international student loans and scholarships. Remember to apply early and often and use all your resources. Finding scholarships can be a challenge, but if you persevere you can end up saving thousands and it will all be worth it.