Brown University Increases Aid For International Students

March 9th, 2007 by IEFA

Although it hasn’t yet joined the ranks of need-blind admissions for international students, officials at Brown University recently approved a dramatic increase in the amount of financial aid available to international students. The new budget approved last week will add $1.3 million to the existing $3.1 million in financial aid for international students, according to a report today in the Brown Daily Herald.

Very few schools (about 35, out of thousands) are able to offer need-blind admissions even to US students. Under a need-blind admissions policy, a college or university will admit students regardless of their ability to pay, and for any students that cannot afford the pricetag, the university awards scholarships and other institutional aid to make up the difference. Only a handful offer need-blind admissions to international students (MIT, Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Williams College, Middlebury College, and Stanford University).

Obviously, any school with a need-blind admissions policy needs to have a very generous endowment (i.e. lots of money), as it costs the school dearly. Over the next few years, I expect more of the 35 schools that currently have need-blind admissions for US students to adopt need-blind admissions for international students as well. We’ll keep you posted as the list grows . . .

Here’s a list of US schools that offer aid to international students.

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You can read more about Brown’s recent action in this story in the Brown Daily Herald online.

New Study Abroad Blog and Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarships

February 2nd, 2007 by IEFA

This week launched a new Study Abroad Blog. For starters it will feature Matt Brattin, winner of the travel contest, as he prepares to go to Spain this summer to begin his MBA at Esade. Matt has a unique tone and outlook and his writing promises to be funny and insightful — check out his first post.

In his first post, Matt talks about the time he has spent preparing his application for a Jack Kent Cooke graduate scholarship. The application is a lot of work (eight essays!), and the process is very competitive — but awards from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation are very generous, and they come with an added dose of prestige. These scholarships are open to US students studying abroad, like Matt, but also to international students studying in the US.

Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship

The JKC Foundation Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship Program each year awards approximately 50 scholarships to students attending community colleges or two-year institutions in the US and planning to transfer to four-year institutions. These awards cover 2-3 years to finish the undergraduate degree, and cover tuition and living expenses up to $30,000.

The 2006 winners came from the US and eight other nations: Belarus, Vietnam, Ecuador, Jamaica, Palestine, Bhutan, Romania and China. To apply, you have to be nominated by your campus JKC Foundation representative. The 50 2006 winners were selected from 676 nominees from 438 community or two-year colleges throughout the US — obviously a very competitive process.

Graduate Scholarship

The JKC Foundation awards 30 graduate scholarships per year, and each award can cover tuition and living expenses up to $50,000 per year for up to six years!

The 2006 award winners came from the US and nine other countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Paraguay, Romania, Trinidad, and Togo.

Best of luck to Matt in his attempt to win one of these unbelievable awards. You can follow Matt through the process at the Study Abroad blog. And for more information on the awards themselves, visit the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation website.

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Internship programs in the US – earn while you learn!

January 11th, 2007 by IEFA

In the series of posts about international students working in the US, we explained generally how difficult it is to work while in the US. You can see those 5 posts here:

On-Campus, Severe Economic Hardship, OPT, CPT, International Institution

But there are exceptions to every rule, and this one is no different. There are a few well-structured internship programs in the US, that allow graduate international students to earn a significant amount of money while studying. Some students earn enough to pay their entire tuition plus living expenses!

Because the internship is integrated with the academic program, and a required part of the coursework, the internship qualifies as Curricular Practical Training (CPT), from the very beginning of the program, and the employment is permitted by USCIS. Two such internships programs, the HTIR program and Schiller International University’s program, are highlighted below. With both of these programs, students can work full-time from their first day on campus!

HTIR is a private organization that refers international students to United States colleges and universities that offer paid internship employment to qualified Master degree students in Business (MBA), Management and Information Technology.

With the HTIR program, either part time or full time employment is allowed. All of the internship positions are with off-campus US-based companies in the vicinity of the university. Wages are paid at the same rate as for domestic workers in similar employment and vary from minimum wage for entry level CPT applicants and higher wages for those with more skills and work experience. Classes are offered during daytime, evening and week-ends to accommodate the students’ employment schedules. All wages paid can be kept by the students and used for their tuition and fees, living and personal expenses.

Click here for more information or to pre-apply for the HTIR program.

Schiller International University, located in Largo, Florida offers a similar program for its international MBA candidates in one of the following concentrations: Hotel and Tourism Management, International Business or Information Technology.

All co-op applicants will be required to be employed in CPT working with an American company in the Clearwater-Tampa-St.Petersburg metropolitan area. Under the Schiller program, Internship jobs can be part-time (about 20 hours per week)or full-time (40 hours per week), as the student may choose. Classes are offered on week days, evenings and week-ends to accommodate the various work schedules of the students.

Both of these programs offer the international graduate student the unique ability to begin working and paying for their education immediately — flexibility and earning ability that is not easy to find for an international student in the US.

Click here for more information or to pre-apply for the Schiller program.

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Student Loans for International Students

January 2nd, 2007 by IEFA

Financing an education in the United States is difficult, even for a US student. For international students, paying for college in the US is even harder. Almost two-thirds of all students enrolled at private four-year US schools receive loans of some type. US students can receive loans guaranteed by the government (Stafford loans, among others), but these valuable loans are not available to international students. Luckily, private student loans are available to international students on the same terms received by US students.

Before applying for a loan, you should exhaust the following potential funding sources:

1. Apply for international student financial aid from your school. Here’s a searchable list of schools awarding financial aid to international students:

2. Research and apply for international student scholarships on your own:

3. Carefully evaluate how much money you or your family can provide towards your education. Every dollar you can pay directly is one less dollar you have to borrow.

Some international students can fund their US education simply using the sources above. However, like US students, most international students will need to fund at least a portion of their US education, if not the entire amount, with loans.

· US Co-Signer Required. International student loans require a US citizen or permanent resident (Green card holder) as a co-signer. The loans are credit-based, meaning the co-signer must have good credit history, good employment history (or other income history if the co-signer does not work), and must have lived in the US for the past two years. Although not everyone can find a family member, friend or other US citizen or permanent resident to co-sign for them, for those that do, they can access private student loans on the same basis as US students.

· Funds Paid Directly to You. Loan funds are paid to you, not to the school. This is a great feature in that you can use the funds for living expenses – but it also means that it is up to you to use the funds responsibly. Pay your tuition, room and board, health insurance and books first – anything extra is a luxury!

· Repayment. Repayment of an international student loan can be deferred while you are in school, and for six months after you finish school. After that, you will have up to 20 years to repay the loan, with a payment due every month. You are also eligible for hardship extensions if you run into unexpected circumstances that prevent you from being able to repay the loan for a short period of time.

· Proof of Finances. One nice feature of international student loans is that you can use the initial loan approval to satisfy the school and visa requirement of showing one year’s financial resources. You can apply for the loan without the proof of enrollment from your school, and receive conditional approval. Then you can provide your school with the conditional approval from the lender, and the school will see you have the necessary funds. Typically, a financial aid officer or international student advisor at a US school is quite familiar with this process and will help you. After admission and enrollment, you can complete the loan process and receive your funds.

· Interest Rates. Interest rates are variable, based on the LIBOR plus a margin. LIBOR is always several points below prime, so the margin is from 3.5% to 7.75%, and will be set by the lender based on the credit history of your co-signer and the repayment plan you select. The better your co-signer, the better your rate! LIBOR changes monthly, up or down, so the rate will be reset monthly. Click here for repayment examples for a $10,000 undergraduate international student loan.

· Online Application. You can apply online, and receive an almost immediate response as to whether you are conditionally approved for the loan. Then, you will need to sign the promissory note, and provide proof of enrollment and immigration status to receive your funds.

· No Application Fees. There are no application fees to apply for an international student loan. There is an origination fee if you actually receive the loan, but that amount is rolled into the loan amount and does not have to be paid out of pocket.

For more information on international student loans, visit

Other useful posts:

International Students Save Money at Community Colleges

December 11th, 2006 by IEFA

Even though more US colleges and universities are making financial aid and scholarships available to international students, most international students at US colleges and universities still must rely on their own sources of funds to pay for their education — like family funds, loans and savings. And the cost of education in the US continues to rise, both in tuition and other costs.

One solution that more and more students have found to make a US higher education more affordable is to attend a community college for two years. Community colleges usually offer 2-year programs that provide an “associates” degree, at much lower tuition than a traditional four-year school. Armed with an associates degree from a community college, students can move on to a full college or university and complete their undergraduate degree in only 2 years. Instead of paying four years of tuition at the higher rate for colleges and universities, students pay 2 years of community college tuition and 2 years of university or college tuition.

For example, the University of Florida estimates annual tuition and living expenses for an international undergraduate student at $30,205 for the 2006/2007 school year. Assuming that you could live on the estimated amount, and assuming no increase in costs over the four years (both questionable assumptions!), it would cost an international student $120,820 for a four-year undergraduate degree at the University of Florida.

If that student spent the first two years at Manatee Community College in Bradenton Florida (at $20,100 tuition and living expenses per year), and then 2 years at the University of Florida, the student still graduates with a University of Florida degree, but only spends a total of $100,610, saving over $20,000. There are many examples where the savings are even greater, but you get the idea.

US students have known this for years, and have been taking advantage of this system of community colleges. For US students, community colleges often also have the advantage of being close to home, so students can live at home and even continue to work, while paying the reduced tuition, making education even more affordable.

If there is a downside, its probably that completing your degree may be a little harder. I’ve never seen any statistics on it, but you must study hard, do well at community college, apply and be accepted to a new school after 2 years, then re-adjust and study hard to complete your degree there. This adds additional re-adjustment periods and transitions that the student who stays at one school for four years does not have to face. However, for highly directed and motivated students who will apply themselves and study hard wherever they are, it does offer a way to save a lot of money on your US higher education.

International students have started to figure the community college system out — community colleges are bursting with international students. For instance, Houston Community College has 3,227 international students, Santa Monica College has 2,658 international students, and there are over 40 2-year colleges in the US with 500 or more international students.

As enrollment of international students increase, these schools are also becoming increasingly adapt at and in tune to the needs of international students, making community colleges a realistic and much more affordable way to begin your international education.

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Canada: Scholarships for International Students

How much does it cost for an international student to study at university in the US?

Sources of Funds for International Students in the US

December 1st, 2006 by IEFA

Most international students at US colleges and universities still must rely on their own sources of funds to pay for their education — like family funds, loans and savings. Although many US schools continue to increase the number of scholarships and the amount of financial aid available to international students (for instance, see’s November newsletter article #7 about Stanford’s new policy), the responsibility for paying for college in the US still largely falls on the student and his or her family. This is particularly true for undergraduates.

Data from Open Doors 2006, an annual report published by the International Institute for Education, shows the sources of funds for international students in the US. Here’s an excerpt showing the primary source of funds for international undergraduate and graduate students in the US:

Primary Source of Funds
% Under- graduate
% Graduate
Personal & Family
U.S. College or University
Home Government/University
U.S. Government
U.S. Private Sponsor
Foreign Private Sponsor
International Organization
Current Employment
Other Sources

Graduate students are much more likely to receive financial assistance from their school, often in the form of assistantships, research grants, etc., whereas very few undergraduates receive any form of aid from their school. There are undergraduate scholarships available at many schools — search InternationalScholarships to see just how many are available — but the lesson from these numbers is, be prepared to pay your own way.

In addition to scholarships, International Student Loans are available to international students in the US or Canada, if you have or can find a US co-signer. These loans are just as good as domestic US students can get, and make study in the US possible for thousands of international students.

But even with loans available, no one wants to be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt coming out of college, which is easy to rack up at expensive schools in expensive cities (see our post on evaluating school program costs). A solution that more and more international students are turning to is the system of community colleges in the US. Just like US students, international students have figured out that they can save tens of thousands of dollars by doing the first two years of an undergraduate degree at a community college, then transfering to a four-year school to complete your degree.

In the next post, we’ll talk about international students accessing community colleges in the US.

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Number of International Students in the US Poised to Rebound

November 14th, 2006 by IEFA

Each year, the Institute of International Education (IIE) publishes the “Open Doors” report on the number of international students in the US, together with detailed demographic information on the international student population. The 2006 Open Doors report was released this week, showing that the overall number of international students in the US has held steady from last year, at about 565,000. However, the number of new enrollments grew by 8%, from about 132,000 to about 143,000, indicating that the number of international students in the US is poised to return to the historic norm of steady year over year growth.

Open Doors 2006 shows an increase in the number of international students that rely primarily on personal and family funds to pay for their US education, from 61.8% to 63.4% of international students. Although it is still difficult to pay for a US education, funds from international student loans are included in that category, making the number a little bit deceiving.

There are also a lot of scholarship recipients in the US international student population — 25.9% of international students list their US college or university as their primary source of funds. You can find lots of these scholarships listed at

A few snapshots from Open Doors 2006:

US Schools With the Most International Students

University of South California 6,881
Columbia University 5,575
Purdue University 5,540
New York University 5,502
University of Texas – Austin 5,395

Leading Countries of Origin

India 76,503
China 62,582
Korea 58,847
Japan 38,712
Canada 28,202

US States with the Most International Students

California 75,385
New York 64,283
Texas 46,869
Massachusetts 28,007
Florida 26,058

Most Popular Fields of Study For International Students

Business and Management 18%
Engineering 16%
Physical and Life Sciences 9%
Social Sciences 8%
Mathematics and Computer Sciences 8%

Click here to see more details on the Open Doors 2006 report

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$2,000 Holiday Travel Contest – Only for International Students!

November 7th, 2006 by IEFA unveiled an exciting new video contest last week, with an entry deadline of December 1. The winner will be announced the week of December 4-8, and the finalists will be available for all to see on You can win $2,000 to travel anywhere in the world — not to mention worldwide fame if your video is posted on the site! Any trip you want to take, and will pay for it.

To enter, you must submit a 4-8 minute video that describes the trip you would take if you win, and why you should win. The best entry will win the $2,000 grand prize — so be funny, or include some great footage and music, or tell a great story — something to get your entry noticed and stand out from the crowd. Film students, technical and artistic types — you have a leg up on the competition. But it is open to anyone 18 or older and studying outside their home country.

For more information and to get an entry form, go to:

Employment with a Recognized International Institution

November 6th, 2006 by IEFA

Today’s is the final post in our series on employment rules for F1 students in the US, covering employment with approved international organizations. You can see the earlier posts here:

Off-Campus Employment Now Permitted in Canada
On-Campus Employment in the US
Off-Campus Employment in the US – Severe Economic Hardship
Off-Campus Employment in the US – Optional Practical Training
Off-Campus Employment in the US – Curriculur Practical Training

Employment with an International Organization

The final category of employment for international students in the US on F1 visas is employment with a “recognized international organization.” To qualify, an organization must be on the official State Department list, and listed organizations include the Red Cross, African and Asian Development Banks, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and many other similar but less well-known organizations. Because it does not have the universal application of OPT or CPT, this category of employment is often overlooked. Only students with a job offer and sponsorship from one of the listed organizations are eligible. However, for those lucky students that do have such sponsorship, there are clear benefits to this category of employment.

Requirements to work for an international organization:

* The student must have an internship/employment with a “recognized international organization.” To see a recent listing of all “recognized international organizations, click here
* The employment must be within the scope of the organization’s sponsorship, and within the student’s field of study.
* The student must have been in valid F-1 status for at least one full academic year
* The student must be in good academic standing

If you meet these requirements, you can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Only after you receive your EAD, which can take up to 3 months, can you start to work.

There are certain advantages of this type of employment when compared to CPT or OPT.

* Employment does not have to be for-credit nor required for your degree program
* Regardless of how much or how long you work, this type of employment will not take away from your 12-month post-completion OPT

To see the text of the entire rule governing off-campus employment with recognized international organizations by F1 students, click here.

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Swedish Schools Still Free for International Students — For Now

October 30th, 2006 by IEFA

The number of international students in Sweden has been growing rapidly, primarily due to two factors. First, because Sweden is so committed to universal English in its population, there are lots of academic offerings in English. International students can find English language programs in all of the most popular disciplines — which include social sciences, business or law (34.8 % of international student in Sweden); engineering, manufacturing and construction (17.9%); humanities and arts (17.6%); sciences (12.4%); health and welfare (9.1%); and education (4.8%). The number of international students in Sweden has now surpassed 36,000.

Second, international students pay no tuition!! Just like Swedish students, international students admitted to Swedish undergraduate or masters programs can attend without paying any tuition. This is reflective of an overall commitment to higher education — Sweden ranked third in spending worldwide on tertiary education at 2.2% of GDP, behind only Denmark and Norway.

For more information on the increasing number of international students in Sweden, read the whole article from here.

However, this great deal is being threatened. Sweden has proposed charging tuition to all international students except those from EU countries. This week, Swedish universities and unions went on the record to object to the government proposal . Academics are concerned that proposals to introduce tuition fees for international students at Sweden’s universities could discourage gifted foreign students from coming to study in Sweden.

To find out more, you can read the entire article from The Local here. Lets hope that Sweden maintains its commitment to international education, as any affordable international education program, no matter how few spots are available, provides hope and opportunity to students that couldn’t otherwise afford to go abroad.

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