Proof of Funds to Get Your I-20: Everything to Know

October 8th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

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.

What is an I-20 Form?

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.

Financial security is important for students – especially because the cost of living and studying in the US is higher than any other country. This is, however, justifiable knowing that American education is supported by state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, as well as academically-excelling professors from long-standing universities.

What about scholarships?

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.

Being a student is not easy because most likely, you still don’t have a steady source of income as you’re still working your way to get a degree. This is why scholarships are becoming increasingly popular, especially with international students coming from developing nations.

The mere expense of studying in the US is usually too high for the average joe coming from a developing nation to take on. Fortunately, there are now many scholarships that are geared toward international students.

Take for example the Global Citizen Scholarship from MPOWER. There is also the Women in STEM Scholarship that’s specifically designed for female international students wishing to study in the US.

Take note, though, that these scholarships have requirements that applicants should all have in order to be eligible.

Sponsor’s 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 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.

Importance of Accurate Funding

It is also important that your sponsors do not exaggerate how much money they are able to cover when providing the university with 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.

Cost of High Living Standards

The reason that you are required to show 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.

The US, being one of the best countries when it comes to education, also comes at a cost. Knowing that it is a first-world country that has a high standard of living, it’s easy to drain all your savings from your bank account especially if you don’t have a consistent sponsor or source of income.

This is one of the many reasons why getting a student visa and actually studying in the U.S. is a bit harder when compared to studying in other countries.

What’s next after getting an I-20 Form?

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 where you’ll again go through a number of processes and steps. Nonetheless, all these will allow you to legally stay in the country and study in a US university full time!

*Visa application photo thanks to Shutterstock


  1. philip ohene-abrefa says:

    I have apply northwestern college and I have send bank statement of 34,000 us dollars before i can 1-20from to go for visa. i am pastor and God work there is no monthly pay. we depend upon people. 2tim 2.15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. thank you for your help

    • Bryanna Lindblom says:

      Hi Philip,

      Thank you for your comment. Some students are able to use loan approval as proof of funds, but it’s not easy and it’s up to the school and consular officer if they’ll accept a loan approval as proper funds. You would need to apply for the loan now, list the school you plan to attend, get initially approved based on the credit of your co-signer, then use that initial approval to complete your acceptance to the school. You can find out more about loans here.

      Good luck!

  2. george anamanya says:

    sorry how do i start the necessary application. and what do i need to have or know about studying there

    • Bryanna Lindblom says:

      Hi George,

      Thank you for your inquiry. If you are interested in studying at a school in the US it is best to contact the school directly regarding their application process. They will be able to provide you with information on how to begin and the other necessary steps involved.

      Good luck!

  3. R.Sailaja says:

    Can I be provided this I-20 form, even from La Trobe University, Australia

  4. CY says:

    How do I know the amount of funds required for an I-20? Is this the amount required for tuition and living for a year as a minimum amount, or is it a balance statement of all funds available to pay tuition etc?


    • Bryanna Lindblom says:

      Hi Cy,

      You may find the following link on the F1 student visa helpful. Your school of interest in the US should also be able to help you with your questions regarding your I-20 and funding requirements.

      Good luck!

  5. Janine says:

    I am applying to work on my doctorate in America.
    I’m hoping to get funding from the schools that I’m applying to. Would this notice be enough to proof my funds for the Visa form or would I need additional proof?
    Thanks in advance for your answer!

    • Bryanna Lindblom says:

      Hi Janine,

      Thank you for visiting. Some students are able to use loan approval as proof of funds, but its not easy and its up to the school and consular officer if they’ll accept a loan approval as proper funds. You would need to apply for the loan now, list the school you plan to attend, get initially approved based on the credit of your co-signer, then use that initial approval to complete your acceptance to the school.

      Good luck!

  6. Haider says:

    How can i get I-20, I mean what is the legal process for I-20 and you tell me that how much money spent on I-20

    • Bryanna Davis says:

      Hi Haider,

      Thanks for visiting. Unfortunately, we can only assist you with financial aid questions. I apologize for any problems this might cause, however, if you have any questions regarding aid please let us know.

  7. philippos says:

    can you explain me what is the financial proof and how i will ask it from the bank? thank you

    • Bryanna Davis says:

      Hi Philippos,

      Financial proof is documentation showing that you have these funds available. For example a bank statement showing you have the amount needed in your bank. You can usually ask for documentation from your bank either in the bank or online.

  8. Agnes says:

    Grade A stuff. I’m unaqnstioeubly in your debt.

  9. jueli patel says:

    thank you for sharing this information i will ask it from the bank? i found one site MSMBAinUSA on that some information is available..

    • Bryanna Davis says:

      Hi Jueli,

      Are you looking for a loan or a document from your bank that shows proof of funds? If you’re searching for a loan you can get more information here:

      If you simply need a document from your bank that shows you have funds available you should be able to obtain this by contacting your bank directly.

      Good luck.

  10. Rana says:

    What if my parents (who will be paying for my education) do not have the total required amount of money?

    • Bryanna Davis says:

      Hi Rana,

      If you are unable to show proof of funds for the required amount then your I-20 will not be issued to you. To help supplement your funding check out both scholarships and loans.

  11. Jui says:

    If I20 form indicates the uni covers whole fund ..will it be required to show additionl personal fund

    • Hi Jui, thanks for your question. We recommend contacting the school who issued you the I20 to see what you’ll need to provide as it will depend on the institution. Thank you!

  12. Patrina S Richards says:

    If I show even a business financial statement with sufficient funds will that also help to get approved of the I-20?

  13. Andy says:

    Hi. My wife earns a monthly salary and would like to sponsor my PhD. Does she need to have all the money sitting in her bank account or proof that she gets enough money throughout the year to help sponsor me

  14. Victor says:

    Hi, can the financial documentation be in our local currency, or is it mandatory
    to be in dollars ?

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