The value of a US education is immense, and found both inside and outside the classroom. After all, when you are not in class and learning from your professors, you will be in a new country learning about its people and culture.
A big part of the value of a US education comes from the thousands of accredited schools for international students to choose from. These schools are some of the best in the world, and with so many to choose from you will be able to find the one that best suits your needs.
After your classes are out for the day, you can choose from one of the many extracurricular activities offered by your college. There are all sorts of athletic programs offered, like football, American football, basketball, baseball, and tennis. There are also academic programs available to join like student government and various arts programs. For the international student who is interested helping others, there are also many volunteer programs available which will allow you help the local community. Example volunteer activities include passing out food to the hungry as well as cleaning up parks and roadways.
When you are finished with your extracurricular activities, your learning still doesn’t end! Simply being in a foreign country is a learning experience in and of itself. You will be eating new and different types of food, meeting new people with very different backgrounds from your own, and seeing new places every day!
As you can see, the value of a US education is nearly limitless. If you really apply yourself and make the most of what is offered, you can make this trip into something that will change your life forever. Your time in the US will make you prepared for whatever life throws at you, and help you get the career you’ve always wanted.
* Volunteer photograph courtesy of Shutterstock
Applying to study in the US can be pretty confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are all kinds of forms and applications which need to be filled out, and a specific order that they all need to be filled out in. Before you are able to get your student visa, for example, you have to first get what is called an I-20 form. And to get your I-20 form, you have to prove that you can finance your time studying in the US. This is because it is required by US law that you prove that you can afford to study in the US, the proof of funds to get your I-20 is how the US determines that you are financially secure enough.
Because of the high cost of living and tuition, many international students rely on at least one sponsor who will help out financially. You are allowed to have as many sponsors as you want, and each one that plans on being a sponsor will need to fill out an affidavit of annual cash support stating that they promise to send you a certain amount of money, as well as a proof of income. The proof of income can be a letter from your sponsor’s employer, income tax returns, an income estimate by a bank, or a bank statement showing that there is enough money to cover the promised amount. If you have sponsors who plan on providing you with a free room and board, they will also need to show a proof of income as well as copies of their lease, deed, rent receipts and/or any other documentation that the university can use to verify ownership of the property.
It is also important that your sponsors do not exaggerate how much money they are able to cover when providing the university with a proof of funds to get your I-20. While your sponsors may think they are helping you by exaggerating, they are actually putting you in danger of having your I-20 form rejected. The reason that you are required to show a proof of funds to get your I-20 is because it is far too risky to move to the US without a guaranteed source of income. If a sponsor backs out and you don’t have enough money to continue living in the US, you would have to move home and stop pursuing your education.
Once you have your I-20 form, you have completed one of the first steps to studying in the US. You will then be eligible to get your F-1 student visa, which will allow you to legally stay in the country and study in a US university full time!
*Visa application photo thanks to Shutterstock
One of the best things about studying in a foreign country is that everything around you is new and exciting, making every day seem like a mini-vacation. To make the most of their time abroad, many international students decide to travel during their time off from school. If you are one of those students, then you might be wondering how to budget so that you can travel for winter break.
Set Incremental Goals
One of the single best tips on how to budget so that you can travel for winter break is to set incremental savings goals. This way you can make sure you are on track to saving the amount you need by winter. These goals should be set up as weekly or monthly dollar amounts that, if met, will result in you having enough money when winter break comes.
See What Your Bank Can Do to Help
Most banks have savings programs to help you save money, so if you’re trying to decide how to budget so that you can travel for winter break, you should check online or ask in person at your bank to see what is offered. For example, some banks will transfer whatever change is left over from a debit card transaction and automatically put it into your savings. If you use your debit card a lot, the occasional 25 and 50 cents being put into to your savings account can really add up in the long run. Other banks have a way to automatically move a set amount from your savings to your checking every month. This method is a great way to make sure you are keeping up with your monthly goals!
Remember What You Are Saving For
Sometimes, after saving for a while, it can be tempting to dip into your money and buy something expensive for yourself. You might tell yourself that you’ll make up for it by saving more in the future or that you deserve to cheat a little. This is because people are good at tricking themselves into spending money, and you should definitely avoid this pitfall if you plan on traveling over the winter. Whenever your temptation to spend some of your savings rises, visualize how amazing your winter trip is going to be and let that image keep you in line and on budget.
There are many other methods on how to budget so that you can travel for winter break, and in the end some will work for you more than others. The best thing to do is to try out several savings methods and seeing what works for you the best!
* Picture of male hand putting a coin into piggy bank courtesy of Shutterstock
College is expensive. Between paying for books, classes, and rent it can sometimes feel like the only thing you’re really learning is how to live on a shoestring budget. Luckily, there are some simple things international students can do to save money while studying in the US. To help you out, here are 5 ways to save money while studying in the US:
1. Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Universities offer a lot of fun (and often free) activities for their students. Some universities have a theater that plays free movies, others have free music concerts throughout the year, and many local businesses offer student discounts simply for showing your student ID. Make sure you ask around and look through your school pamphlet for what deals are available to you.
2. Buy Your School Books Online
Books can be very expensive if they are purchased from your university bookstore. If you do not need your book right away, do some searches for books online. Many popular shopping websites offer the books you need for half the price of the University.
3. Eat At Home
It can be easy to give in to the temptation of eating out all the time. It is faster, you don’t have to own cooking supplies (or even know how to cook), and there are usually restaurants all over campus. Not only is eating out all the time unhealthy, it’s also expensive. With just a few pots and pans and a little know-how you can cook all sorts of cheap and healthy foods. The internet is full of websites that cater to people with little time to cook, so if you’re ever in a rush remember that there are countless quick recipes at your fingertips. If you are looking for more help, check out our 10 Tips to Keep Food Costs Low blog.
4. Make a Budget
Between midterms, papers, and extracurricular activities, keeping track of how much you are spending is likely at the lower end of your priority list. However, keeping track of how much you spend is a great way to keep yourself from spending too much. $1 sodas and $3 coffees might not seem expensive by themselves, but they can really add up over time. If you budget your money and keep track of your spending, you can find out where most of your extra funds are going and what places you need to pay more attention to.
5. Meet Local Students
Being in a new country can be scary for international students. You might be tempted to keep to yourself, but every city has hidden secrets that can’t be found unless you make friends someone who has lived there their entire lives. Local students can help you find cheap and free things to do all over the city that you might have never known about otherwise.
That’s right, if you are currently studying outside your home country – or if you want to study abroad, you have the chance to win $4,000! The 2012 Travel Video Content hosted by InternationalStudent.com has just opened allowing you to submit your video with the opportunity to add $4,000 to your travel budget.
As the 7th annual Travel Video Contest, this could be your year to win! To enter, submit a video of less than 5 minutes explaining why you want to study or travel abroad! If you are currently abroad, then talk about a trip you’d like to take and why.
Check out previous winners to get those ideas flowing, and submit your video before the deadline, October 31st. The winner of the Travel Video Contest will be announced on the InternationalStudent.com website the week of November 12-16, International Education Week.
In addition to the grand prize of $4,000, the winner will get their very own blog on International Student to document their trip and share their experience with viewers. This blog will start immediately after the winner is announced, and will continue through the trip until return to school. For more information, check out the Travel Video Contest for rules and regulations, to see previous videos, and learn how to submit your video.
Good luck to you all!
* Professional Video Camera picture thanks to Shutterstock
Studying in the United States can add up, but there are many tips to budget properly and keep costs low. Food can add up weekly, especially if you are not planning appropriately. Going to dinner can easily add up to $20 for one meal. By taking the time steps to save money on food, this can mean more opportunities – and more adventures for you!
Here are 10 tips to keep food costs low:
1. Eat at Home
With a restaurant on every corner, many students think convenience! Pizza in 10 minutes? Hamburger in 2 minutes? Or, splurge at a fancy restaurant? While this might be a treat once in a while, try to find easy and quick recipes you can make at home. Not only are these typically healthier options, but it will save you money in the long run!
2. Buy Local
Buying fresh fruits and vegetables at a grocery store can be expensive. Mangos can be $1 each – on sale! Go to your local farmers market though and you’ll pay much lower prices. Some people show up early – others show up late – to get even greater discounts on their produce.
3. Buy on Sale
Sales can be so much fun – great deals and good food is the way to go. If it’s food that doesn’t go bad, then you can buy more and save it for later. If it’s meat, then you can freeze it for later also. Don’t splurge on food you may not normally purchase, but buying your everyday food on sale allows you to save even more money!
4. Freeze Left Overs
Ever try to cook something and make more than you can stomach? Or, have you had left overs but couldn’t fit it into your weekly schedule? Don’t forget that freezing food can be a great way to conserve and make the most of your budget.
5. Plan Your Meals to Reduce Wasted Food
There are so many times that we’ll go to the grocery store and buy everything in sight. There are also many times where you may be swayed to indulge, but not actually incorporate it into your eating regiment – and therefore goes to waste. Don’t let this happen to you. Plan your meals, reduce wasted food, and watch your money go even farther.
6. Buy Store Brand
Many times “white label” food is just as good as the brand name. Try buying your grocery store brand – not only will you save money but you will in many cases end up with the same quality!
7. Clip Coupons
If you are one of those people who read the newspaper – or go searching for coupons online – then take the time to see if there are any coupons for your normal purchases. One dollar off or buy one get one free can certainly help lower your costs on regular shopping days.
8. Compare price on per unit cost – not total price!
If you’ve ever taken the time to notice, many packages will tell you the weight of the food you are buying. Just because the total price is lower, it may be that you are buying less. Don’t be fooled by marketers, compare prices based on the equivalent weight to make sure you get the best deal!
9. Buy in Bulk
Many times if you buy in bulk, you will end up with the best price. While you may end up buying more than you need, consider sharing with friends or roommates to make sure that you get the lowest price for the maximum quantity.
10. Grocery Store Membership
Many stores now have memberships which offer you discounts or money back. If you are not already a member, sign up and see the savings come back to you!
Do you want to study in the US but are afraid that you can’t afford it? Here are five tips to keep costs low while studying abroad in the US and ensure that your trip doesn’t empty your bank account.
- Research cost-efficient cities. Not all cities are created equal when it comes to what you’ll spend. One month’s rent in New York City can cost around four times as much as a room in a college town. Still want to go to the Big Apple? Consider studying in a place that is affordable but has easy access to major points of interest.
- Say goodbye to Starbucks. A triple-shot mocha latte with whipped cream might seem like a good idea at the time, but you’ll be out of money faster than you can order your next drink. Invest in a coffee-maker and get your jolt at home. Or, if you find yourself at Starbucks, if you get a regular coffee you’ll spend a little over $1 – instead of a $4 specialty coffee. A few dollars a day can add up to quite a lot over time!
- Get a part-time job. You may not be authorized to work in the US, but you may be able to do some work for your college or university. Not only does that get you involved on campus, it may be just the way to earn some additional cash to help cover some miscellaneous costs.
- Consider staying with a family. Living with a family instead of on your own in a dorm or apartment could do wonders to keep costs low while studying in the US. Just being present is a surefire way to be invited to family dinners, and they might even want to take you to see something new. In addition to saving you money, you will learn more about the culture and traditions, and have the opportunity to improve your language skills much faster!
- Check out the free events. Most cities and college towns host numerous free events such as fairs, markets, outdoor concerts, and festivals. You’ll get a taste of the local culture while keeping costs low. Check out local magazines, newspapers, and even online event calendars for the latest in your area!
These are just five tips to keep costs low while studying in the US – do you have any additional ideas? If so, let us know and share your tips on how you’ve saved money!
Last Friday, Florida’s State University System – approved by the Board of Governors – agreed to increase the state tuition among public universities. Among the 11 schools that will be affected by this ruling, tuition increases will run between 9% – 15% higher for this year’s tuition. Not to fear, however, even with these increases Florida will still remains one of the most affordable, ranked 45th in tuition and fees (out of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia).
There were four Florida universities that had a full 15% tuition increase. Out of these four, the highest undergraduate tuition will now be Florida International University at $4,669 per year assuming a normal load of 30 credits – which equates to an annual increase of $609.
The lowest tuition is at $4,154 at the University of South Florida branch of both St. Petersburg and Sarasota. While they had an increase as well, they only went up $446 – an 11% increase over last year.
This rate increase is controversial as many supporters state that it will help avoid closing programs and laying off faculty. Those against the ruling state that many people cannot afford to pay more. In either case, here are this year’s new annual tuition beginning this Fall 2012:
- Florida International University: 15% tuition increase (or $609), $4,669 new annual tuition
- Florida State University: 13% tuition increase (or $528), $4,588 new annual tuition
- University of South Florida (Tampa): 11% tuition increase (or $446), $4,506 new annual tuition
- University of Central Florida: 15% tuition increase (or $577), $4,425 new annual tuition
- Florida Atlantic University: 15% tuition increase (or $561), $4,303 new annual tuition
- New College: 15% tuition increase (or $561), $4,303 new annual tuition
- University of West Florida: 14% tuition increase (or $524), $4,266 new annual tuition
- University of North Florida: 13% tuition increase (or $486), $4,228 new annual tuition
- Florida Gulf Coast College: 12% tuition increase (or $449), $4,191 new annual tuition
- Florida A&M: 12% tuition increase (or $449), $4,191 new annual tuition
- University of Florida: 9% tuition increase (or $365), $4,425 new annual tuition
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?
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.