Home Student & Career Tips How to Afford a U.S. College as an International Student – 2020

How to Afford a U.S. College as an International Student – 2020


This article contains information on how to afford a U.S college as an international student in the year 2020.


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College isn’t cheap for anyone these days – it can be hard to find the money to attend no matter where you’re from. When you’re an international student hoping to attend a U.S. college, coming up with funding is even harder.

Many student loan lenders won’t issue student loans to students from other countries. With more than one million international students in the U.S., it’s a problem many students are trying to get around. Even though affording college can be tough for international students, they still have some options.

The Difficulties of Securing Financial Aid as an International Student

When U.S. citizens want to attend college, they’re encouraged to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. This form can line them up with grants and other money that can make college more financially feasible to them. International students aren’t eligible to receive money from this source.

Also, many international students don’t allow enough time to secure money for college. Ideally, you should begin searching for financial aid for up to two years before you plan to attend college.

To land financial aid, international students should look for scholarships at their university, through private companies, or non-profit organizations. Students should search online for any other scholarships they aren’t aware of. It’s also possible to get a private student loan, especially if the student has a co-signer who lives in the U.S. But it is more difficult to find companies willing to lend money to international students.


Students can also ask their university about work-study opportunities, or they can consider going to a community college for two years before transferring to a four-year college. That can save thousands of dollars.

Top 5 Colleges Offering Financial Aid to International Students

While it can be difficult to find colleges that give financial assistance to international students, there are some clear-cut winners in that department. Here are the top five.

1. Georgetown University
  • Location: DC
  • The average amount of aid: $69,406
  • Number of students awarded aid: 29
2.  Skidmore College
  • Location: NY
  • The average amount of aid: $67,085
  • Number of students awarded aid: 86
3.  Duke University
  • Location: NC
  • The average amount of aid: $66,754
  • Number of students awarded aid: 213
4.  Amherst College
  • Location: MA
  • The average amount of aid: $66,093
  • Number of students awarded aid: 135
5.  Williams College
  • Location: MA
  • The average amount of aid: $66,066
  • Number of students awarded aid: 94

Alternative Financing Options

If you are unable to find enough grants to make college affordable, you shouldn’t give up there, although the odds may seem stacked against you.

Student Loans

As mentioned earlier, many private U.S. lenders won’t loan to international students. But there are a few who do, including:

  • Citizens Bank: With a minimum APR of 2.90 percent and a maximum loan of 150,000, you’ll need a co-signer for this loan. Your co-signer needs to have a good credit history and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Discover: This loan can amount to 100 percent of your school-certified costs and has a variable APR of 2.80 percent. Once again, you must have a U.S. co-signer who has good credit.
  • Prodigy Finance: You’ll pay a little more for this loan – it has a minimum APR of 5 percent. You won’t need a co-signer with this option, and they don’t list a maximum loan amount. Prodigy will determine whether you’re acceptable after you fill out some information that allows them to determine your risk.


If you’re an international student hoping to land some scholarship money, here are three options.

  • Joint Japan World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program: This scholarship is open to students from developing countries who are seeking a graduate-level degree in the U.S. Scholarship amounts vary.
  • American Association of University Women International Fellowships for Women: These scholarships for women are open to international students in full-time study or research programs in the U.S. The amounts range from $18,000 to $20,000.
  • The Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Program: This scholarship helps international students with living expenses and tuition at an accredited U.S. college. Applications are solely accepted from eligible nationals who live in a country where Aga Khan offices are established. The scholarships are based on academics and financial need.

Bottom Line

International students who want to pursue their education in the U.S. do have options for finding financial resources. It’s important they do their research and work ahead of time so they can find the best solutions based on their situation.

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