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


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