2012 College Admissions Data for International Students

June 18th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

It’s that time of year again, international students from around the world have applied to colleges and universities, and are preparing themselves to both live and study in the US. This year, the 2012 college admissions data for international students is in, and we would like to share some of the findings.

According to the New York Time’s report, we have preliminary data of the admissions yield which reflects the number of students who have accepted admissions and who have also paid their tuition deposit – and therefore are planning to enroll in their college or university the new school year.

While this is subject to change as we approach the new academic term, the new data reflects that the Ivy League schools – the dream of any international student wanted to study in the US – were even more selective this year.

Harvard University, for example, one of the most recognized US school for higher education shows that international students will make up 11.3% of the total student body this year. With over 34,000 applicants, the New York Times reported that only 5.9% were accepted – an even higher standard over last year’s 6.2% acceptance rate.

Brown University, located in Rhode Island, will also have a relatively large student body population where they accepted 348 international students – 191 of which said “yes” and are planning to attend this semester. International students are expected to make up 12% of the total student body for the class of 2016.

Dartmouth College is planning to have 1,080 students for the Class of 2016 – 10% of which are expected to be made up of international students.

You can view more from this New York Times article and check out other school profiles and 2012 college admissions data for international students. There is no doubt that schools are looking to gain an international edge by creating a diverse environment with an international student body.

If you are an international student planning to study in the US, what criteria do you look at when you apply to a college or university?

STAR Act Proposed to Help Foreign Students with Work Visas

June 4th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

United States Senator, John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas introduced the STAR Act which aims to help international students with graduate degrees live and work in the US post graduation. The bill is an attempt to give more H-1B visas to students who graduate with high level degrees in needed fields in the United States. Currently, there is a cap of 85,000 visas issued annually – far lower than the demand, and arguably need, that currently exists.

The Securing the Talent America Requires for the 21st Century Act, or STAR Act, aims to allocate 55,000 work visas for those students with a job offer who have obtained a master’s or doctorate degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics from a US institution.

According to the Senator, “The U.S. attracts the best and the brightest, but because of our cap on the number of visas, we usually send these people home. Then they turn around and compete with us by creating jobs in their native countries.”

Taking this merit-based approach, many companies and other government officials are praising the bill, saying that it is a way to retain and attract some of the best and brightest people from around the world to stay in the United States.

Read more about this in the Bellingham Herald.

Financial Aid Definitions

May 29th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

Are you confused about the financial aid jargon? If you are a student looking to get additional financing to support your education overseas, you may need help understanding the lingo. Here’s a list of financial aid definitions that commonly appear throughout the world of loans, scholarships and grants.

  • Award package - This is typically given by your college or university that details the type and amount of financial aid you’ll be offered.
  • Capitalization - Interest rates are deferred and added to the principal of the loan.
  • Cost of education - Many financial aid packages will want to know your cost of education. This includes tuition, fees, books, transportation, room and board, etc.
  • Deferment - When international students take out a loan, the deferment period is when payments of principal (the amount you borrow) are not required.
  • Departmental scholarship - Did you apply to a specific department at a college or university? This is typically an award given to a distinguished student.
  • Disbursement - Students will see this phrase commonly in international financial aid. This is the process by which funds are given to students to meet their educational and living expenses. In terms of loans, this is when the amount you want to borrow is given to the you – this is typically dispersed for an academic period.
  • Financial aid - of course we need to define this! – financial aid is the money given to student based on both need and merit in the form of scholarships, grants, employment (which is limited and restricted for international students) and loans.
  • Foreign student - When it comes to financial aid, this is a student who has their allegiance to another country other than the country they are studying in. For example, foreign students are typically on a student or exchange visa and are ineligible for federal financial assistance.
  • Need based aid - An award granted to a student based on the financial need of the student. These awards are limited for international students.
  • Tuition waivers - A handful of U.S. states are now offering tuition waivers to international students in state institutions if students contribute to the local community – this means that students don’t pay for their tuition. Keep in mind, though, that this is generally awarded to graduate students.

Is there another phrase that you’ve come across and don’t understand? Our financial aid definitions are common phrases that you’ll run across in scholarships, grants and loans - but there are many others. We have our experts ready to help you navigate the complicated world of financial aid as you study overseas.

What is a Grant?

May 14th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

If you are an international student looking for additional financial aid to support your education overseas, it is important to first maximize the funding that does not require repayment. Most students in this situation look to not only scholarships, but also grants.

You may be asking yourself, what is a grant?

A grant is a type of financial assistance that is given to a students without the need to pay it back. With loans, for example, you are required to not only pay back the amount you borrowed but also pay an additional fee called interest. While this can be an important resource for many students, you will want to use this to cover any secondary expenses that you cannot fund personally – or through a grant or scholarship.

Grants are typically given to undergraduate students which considers the financial need, cost of attendance, and enrollment status. While many US students get this funding from the US federal government, many colleges also give grants to both US and international students alike. While most US Foundation grants are given to US students, there are some opportunities for international students as well!

Programs like Fulbright and select colleges and universities provide grants to international students. If you are interested, be sure to contact them directly and find out about their requirements and deadlines. Many colleges and universities looking to attract international students to their campus also offer financial aid packages available to international students.

Before you begin applying for grants, be sure to also check eligibility and make sure that they do award funds to international students. If you are ready to see what grants you are eligible for, check out the Scholarship and Grant Search which has been designed specifically for foreign students.

When to apply for an international student loan?

May 1st, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

It’s May, and that means that many of you have received your acceptance letters from colleges and universities. Once you’ve narrowed down your schools and confirmed your attendance, it’s time to start thinking about your student visa and financial aid.

Many students ask us, when is a good time to apply for a loan?

If you are going to be an international student in the US, you are not eligible for US Federal Stafford loans. Instead, many students choose to apply for private student loans. The best time to apply for a loan is once you’ve received your acceptance letter from the school you plan to attend. If you are currently enrolled at a college or university, you can apply for a loan at any time.

Before you begin your application, as an international student, you will need to make sure that you have a US cosigner. To be eligible, your cosigner must be a US citizen or US permanent resident who has lived in the US for the past two years with good credit. Most cosigners are family members or close friends as they are stating that they are responsible to pay any debts that you may be unable to afford.

You can apply each academic term for student loans. The time it takes for the approval will ultimately depend on how long it takes both the borrower and cosigner complete their documents and also on how quickly the school certifies the loan. Once your loan has been approved, the funds will be disbursed to the school and your school will then disperse the funds at the beginning of your term.

To get started, click here to compare international student lenders available at your college or university. Once you’ve found your student loan, you can apply right online.

Proof of Funds for your F-1 Visa

April 30th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

It’s that time of year when students have received acceptance letters from their colleges and universities. Once they’ve narrowed down their schools and confirmed admissions, the next step is to apply for a F-1 international student visa to get government authorization to study in the US.

If you are one of these students, then it is important to know about the proof of funds requirement that you’ll be asked when you visit your local US embassy. All prospective foreign students are required to demonstrate that they have the financial capability to support him or herself while studying in the US. This includes covering tuition and fees, living expenses, and any dependents – without working during your studies.

To meet the Proof of Funds requirement for your F-1 visa, you will either need to present proof of funds for yourself, or do so through a sponsorship (such as a relative financially backing your education). It is important that you check directly with the consulate as this may vary by country and agency, but here are some general considerations and documents you should bring during your visit.

Proof of liquid assets. The consulate will want to see that you are able to cover your education and living expenses. While there are generally no specific documents that prove this, there are some commonly used documents that help support proof of funds including:

  • Original tax returns from the last three years (Form 16)
  • Three years of bank records and/or fixed deposit statements of your sponsor (which can also be your parent)
  • Pay slips, employment letters
  • Chartered accountant statements
  • Scholarships (which should be indicated on your I-20)
  • Property documents

The US government is concerned more with liquid assets such as savings accounts and checking accounts since they want to ensure that you have easy access to these funds. Investments with fluctuating values and property deeds are not generally recommended as proof of funds. The embassy is looking to see that you have immediate funds to cover the first year costs of your education, and that you’ll have access to funds for the following years needed to complete your degree.

Additionally, it is important that all of your documents are original, in English (or an official translation attached), and official. Your bank documents should be on bank letterhead with the name of the account holder, account number, and the total amount of funds indicated on the forms.

Sponsorship. If you are planning to study in the US but do not have sufficient funds, you can have a sponsor support you instead. Many international students have a sponsor, such as a family member, to help cover their educational expenses. Sponsors can be located inside or outside the US:

  • If the student is sponsored by a US citizen, they would need to complete the I-134 Affidavit of Support Form that requires the sponsor to cover any expenses that the student cannot afford.
  • If the student is sponsored with funds outside the US, then the embassy would check to see if there are any fund transfer restrictions from the specified country. If there are any restrictions, the student must be equipped with evidence that the student will be able to access these funds during the period of study.

The final determination of sufficient proof of funds is determined by the consulate or embassy. Even if you provide these documents they can still deny the student visa. Be sure to check with your school and consulate to make sure you have all the proper forms necessary when arriving for your F-1 student visa interview.


Top Majors That Are Likely to Get You Hired

April 2nd, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

In one of our most recent blogs, Top Paying Undergraduate Majors, we looked at which undergraduate majors yielded the highest income long-term and for new hires. In the current employment environment, however, it has been difficult for many students to find a job post graduation. You may have heard on the news in the US – or around the world – that youth unemployment is particularly high. In Spain, for example, 49% of young people under 25 were unemployed at the end of 2011. In Italy, that number was 49% and in the United States that number was approximately 20%.

According to the most recent hiring statistics, the hardest hit demographic to find a job after graduating is international students who have visa restrictions on employment. Degree-seeking international students typically come to the US under a F-1 international student visa which allow students to work under “Optional Practical Training” status up to one year.

If a company wants to hire an international student long-term, the employer will need to apply for a H1B work visa which allows individuals to work for three years and they can renew the visa for another three years. Because students must be working in a field related to their studies, there are top majors that are likely to get you hired compared to others. This sponsorship process requires students to be highly competitive in their industry with skills that standout among other applicants. Furthermore, this process can be quite expensive for employers so typically larger companies, such as banks and consulting firms, are able to hire and support international students.

With visa restrictions and high unemployment, there is recent data that ties your major to your ability to get hired. According to the Wall Street Journal’s Best College Major to Career, your major has a direct impact on your employability. Here are the top 10 lowest unemployment rates based on major:

Undergraduate Major Unemployment Percent
Actuarial Science 0.0%
Pharmacology 0.0%
Educational Administration and Supervision 0.0%
School Student Counseling 0.0%
Geological and Geophysical Engineering 0.0%
Astronomy and Astrophysics 0.0%
Teacher Education 1.1%
Agricultural Economics 1.3%
Medical Technologies Technicians 1.4%
Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology 1.6%

We have also took the majors with the highest income in our previous blog and ranked them according to the lowest unemployment rates:

Undergraduate Major Unemployment Percentage
Environmental Engineering 2.2%
Aerospace Engineering 3.6%
Chemical Engineering 3.8%
Mechanical Engineering (ME) 3.8%
Applied Mathematics 4.1%
Nuclear Engineering 4.1%
Management Information Systems (MIS) 4.2%
Petroleum Engineering 4.4%
Physics 4.5%
Civil Engineering (CE) 4.9%
Electrical Engineering (EE) 5.0%
Mathematics 5.0%
Computer Science (CS) 5.6%
Industrial Engineering (IE) 5.6%
Biomedical Engineering (BME) 5.9%
Economics 6.3%
Statistics 6.9%
Computer Engineering (CE) 7.0%
Materials Science & Engineering 7.7%

While there are top majors that are likely to get you hired, there are other factors that can influence your employment as an international student. Being at the right place at the right time as well as networking and your relationships can make it easier for you to find a job upon graduation.

Many colleges and universities offer resources, like a Career Center, that can give you the right tools and exposure to secure a job in the United States. While this process can be difficult, it is important to think long-term and consider your major, involvement, networking, and internship decisions if you are considering job prospects in the US.


Top Paying Undergraduate Majors

March 26th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

As we previously reported, the cost of education has been on the rise for some time now. Especially as US state budgets are cut, colleges and universities are shifting their expenses to the student. Many students – be it US citizens or international students – are looking for ways to finance their education from scholarships to grants to loans. But you may wonder if your education is worth the cost.

While this question has to be individually evaluated and answered, a good starting point is to look at the expected income based on your major (which is your specialization in college or at a university). The path you select will train you in a specific field, which will ultimately determine your job prospects, and thus, your salary.

Not surprisingly, 13 out of the top 20 highest paying positions – whether looking at starting pay or mid-career pay – is engineering. Below is a graph outlining the top paying undergraduate majors in the US:

Looking at these results, it is no wonder why the second most popular field for international students is engineering followed by math and computer science (which ranked third) and then physical and life sciences (which ranked fourth). In fact, it is clear from the data that top paying undergraduate majors that prove more technical in nature are compensated accordingly. Below is a table that reflect the true figures from the graph above:

Starting Median Pay* Mid-Career Median Pay*
Petroleum Engineering $97,900 $155,000
Chemical Engineering $64,500 $109,000
Electrical Engineering (EE) $61,300 $103,000
Materials Science & Engineering $60,400 $103,000
Aerospace Engineering $60,700 $102,000
Computer Engineering (CE) $61,800 $101,000
Physics $49,800 $101,000
Applied Mathematics $52,600 $98,600
Computer Science (CS) $56,600 $97,900
Nuclear Engineering $65,100 $97,800
Biomedical Engineering (BME) $53,800 $97,800
Economics $47,300 $94,700
Mechanical Engineering (ME) $58,400 $94,500
Statistics $49,000 $93,800
Industrial Engineering (IE) $57,400 $93,100
Civil Engineering (CE) $53,100 $90,200
Mathematics $47,000 $89,900
Environmental Engineering $51,700 $88,600
Management Information Systems (MIS) $51,000 $88,200
Software Engineering $54,900 $87,800

*All data was collected from PayScale Salary Survey for full-time employees in the United States who possess a Bachelor’s degree (and no further degree) in order to determine which were the top paying undergraduate majors.

Tuition and Inflation

March 12th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

College costs are on the rise and are showing no signs of wavering. Economists predict that by 2015 state college costs may be as high as $120,000. US and international students are feeling the effects more so than ever as tuition is increasing at a faster rate than inflation. Since 1986, inflation has increased 115.06% whereas tuition has increased 498.31%.

So, what does this mean for you?

First, to understand, let’s discuss inflation. Inflation is the rate in which the price for goods/services rise but the purchasing power falls. For example, the price for a hamburger cost 15 cents back in 1955, but now the cost is $3.22 for that same burger. You are still getting a burger, but your money is worth less now. So, to put it in context, the higher inflation, the less your money buys.

Currently, tuition is increasing at twice the rate of inflation – meaning that you will need more money to get the same education – and the trend shows no indication of changing. Below is a graph that shows the increase in tuition and fees since 1986 (data collected from College Board):

You will notice that the rate has been steadily on the rise, with the largest increase coming from private nonprofit four-year colleges and universities. These rising costs can be attributed to a number of factors, including a decrease in state funding, increased costs to attract professors, and investment in facilities to create a competitive educational environment.

According to the latest data published by Bloomberg, tuition jumped 8.3% over last year doubling inflation. The increase in tuition is causing a new problem – student debt. Last year, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the average student graduated with $27,000 in debt – quite an increase from just $5,000 back in 1982. If you adjust for inflation, then the debt amount would be $12,000 in real terms (less than half the current student debt amount!)

As tuition continues to increase, students will now need to think about their earning potential upon graduation, as well as alternative methods to help fund your education. Maximizing scholarships and grants is the first step in reducing your debt. By thinking smart, consider your career path and earning potential, look for ways to keep your finances low, and seek alternative methods to get additional funding to support your education.

Top Colleges Offering Financial Aid to International Students

February 27th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

Are you planning to study in the US? If so, you’ll find the latest study by the U.S. News & World Report to be of particular interest. This report evaluated the financial assistance packages that US colleges provided their international undergraduate students. After reviewing the 776 US colleges that provide financial aid to international students, the top 10 colleges were narrowed down and ranked.

Interestingly, the top 10 colleges offering financial aid to international students averaged $47,469. While it is important to note that this is not the norm, as many of the 776 schools offered a few hundred dollars to its students coming from overseas, this information can be helpful for students budgeting and planning to study in the US.

For many international students, the financial aid packages may just be the final determination of whether the student will go abroad for their undergraduate degree. Especially as tuition continually increases and the economic downfall has widespread consequences, students are more than ever depending on help from their college or university.

Below is the final report of the top colleges offering financial aid to international students along with the average award package given in 2010-2011:

1. Yale University, Connecticut – $51,044

2. Wesleyan University, Connecticut  – $50,743

3. Skidmore College, New York – $50,000

4. Amherst College, Massachusetts – $49,010

5. Trinity College, Connecticut – $48,999

6. Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania – $48,908

7. University of Chicago, Illinois – $48,436

8. Williams College, Massachusetts – $47,713

9. Vassar College, New York – $47,623