Choices of financial aid for international students in US universities are more for graduate students than for the undergraduates. Students seeking financial aid from the university must be enrolled as full-time students.
Generally, international students do not qualify for State or Federal funds as provided to US nationals. Only, six universities across the country accept application for financial aid when the student is making the application to join the institution. Otherwise, every college would require international students to apply for specific jobs, departments and loans after joining them.
The financial aid for international students in US universities comes in the form of on campus jobs, grants, scholarships and loans.
These are funds awarded as gift assistance and do not require payback. Based on the need of the student and his/her merit the scholarships are awarded. Merit based funding is the most common form of financial aid for international students in US universities under scholarship schemes.
Students who are willing to work on campus in various departments can seek hourly employment that mostly pays minimum wage. Off-campus jobs are not open for international students. The maximum number of hours an international student can work on campus is limited to 20 hours a week. The money is for the work done and it need not be paid back.
Private loans are made available by the US universities to the international students to help them meet their educational expenses. These are like usual loans and need to be repaid. Based on the credit history of the applicant and the lender’s discretion the decision to lend, the loan amount, interest rate, and loan period are determined.
Federal or state grants are not directly made available to the international students. However, graduate international students can seek teaching and graduate assistantship with university departments that have such funding. This is not made available to the undergraduate students. The graduate student will be awarded the assistantship based on availability of funds, vacancy, student’s merits, and experience.
Generally, the student availing this opportunity has to work for the department (maximum of 20 hours a week). The department will take care of the student’s educational expenses and pay a stipend to meet part of the living expenses. The graduate or teaching assistantship is usually awarded for a period of two years (usual time it takes to complete a graduate course). The student has to maintain a particular GPA level in order to sustain the financial aid during those two years. At any time the student scores below that GPA level, the assistantship will be cancelled.
This is the most sought after financial aid for international students in US universities as it covers educational and living expenses. Moreover, the job is a good addition to the graduate’s resume.