When calculating the annual cost of a US education at a particular college or university, add at least $6,000 Approx. to the published cost of tuition, fees, and room and board. The College Board publishes college costs, required admissions tests, and other useful information in The International Student Handbook of US Colleges. When preparing a budget, you will need to account for the following costs:
  • Application fees about $75 to $100 per school
  • Academic entrance examinations will cost you around $150 to $200 per examination, and most students take at least 2 tests. Assume that you will be spending at least $500 on tests
  • Tuition and fees will cost between $30,000 and $50,000 approx. per academic year (9 months), depending on the type and quality of institution
  • Books and study materials will cost $ 2000 to $ 4,000 approx. per academic year
  • Travel costs to the US vary, but will be between $500 and $2,000 Approx. Travel costs within the US will be between $300 and $700 Approx.
  • Room and Board will cost between $10,000 and $17,500 Approx. annually. Allow an extra $1,000 to $2,000 for vacation periods when the dormitory might be closed
  • If you will be living off campus, the cost of renting an apartment will be between $300 and $600 a month, but could be much higher contingent on the location of the school. Meals should cost about $2,500 a year, assuming that you do not eat in restaurants too many times
  • Clothing will cost $500 or more annually
  • Health insurance will cost $300 to $500 Approx. a year per person, $2,000 to $3,500 Approx. per family
  • Personal expenses will cost around $2,000 Approx. per year
If you bring other family members with you, assume that your annual expenses will increase about 15% or $5,000 Approx. for each additional family member. If you wish to buy a car, assume that it will cost you around $4,000 a year. If you will be traveling during the summer, assume a cost of $50 to $75 Approx. a day for touring. If you will be continuing your education during the summer, add half the figure you calculated for the full year. Assume that your costs will increase by about 5% per year due to inflation. Do not forget to include an allowance of about 10% to account for changes in exchange rates. Use the financial planning worksheet to estimate your costs for a year of study in the US. Be realistic when estimating costs for personal expenses.

Financial Planning Worksheet

Format of TOEFL
ExpenseEstimated Cost
Application and Test Fees$____________
Tuition and Fees$____________
Books$____________
Travel to US$____________
Room and Board$____________
Expenses when school is closed$____________
Clothing$____________
Personal expenses$____________
Health insurance$____________
Summer study or travel$____________
Additional family members$____________
Other$____________
ANNUAL TOTAL$____________
Multiply the total by the number of years in your program (___)$____________
  • Because sources of financial aid to study in the US are scarce, you will have to be resourceful and explore all possibilities. In addition to the sources listed below, we recommend searching the FastWeb database, because it is free and has good coverage of the awards available for international students.

     Help from Your Home Country

    One of the best sources of financial aid to study in the US is organizations in your own country. The nearest educational advising center may have information about local sources of support. Your own government may have financial aid available. (Usually this support requires that you return home after your education is complete.) Contact the cultural section of your embassy or your ministry of education for more information, since there are many awards which require you to be nominated by your government. There may also be private organizations in your home country that provide support for study in the US.

     Aid from International Organizations

    Of the few private scholarships for international students, most require that you apply from your home country. If you are already in the US you might not be eligible. So you should search for financial aid prior to arriving in the US. Some international organizations offer funding for graduate students to study in the US. These include the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), AMIDEAST, the International Maritime Organization, the International Telecommunications Union, the League of Red Cross Societies, the Soros Foundation, the World Health Organization, and the World Council of Churches. These awards are very competitive. Ful bright scholarships are awarded to about 4,700 graduate students worldwide each year. Applicants are required to take the TOEFL and GRE or GMAT exams. Professional education, such as medical studies, is not eligible. Fulbright students are required to be on J-1 visas for the duration of their sponsorship. For information about applying to the Fulbright Program in your country, contact the nearest US embassy or consulate, Fulbright Commission office, or educational advising center. The US Information Agency maintains information about studying in the US, the Fulbright program, and the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, in the Educational and Cultural Exchange section of their web site, including Fulbright Commission contact information for most countries. For more information, call 1-202-619-4355, fax 1-202-619-6988, write to United States Information Agency, Office of Public Liaison, 301 4th Street, SW, Room 602, Washington, DC 20547, or contact Geebee Education.

     Aid from the US Government

    Please note that the US government student assistance programs, including the Pell Grant, Stafford and PLUS loans, and work-study programs, are not available to international students. However aid may be available from the US government for students from specific countries. Your best bet for finding out if there is any financial aid from the US for students from your country is to contact your embassy, the US Department of State, and the US Information Agency. You should also write to the Agency for International Development, Office of International Training, Washington, DC 20523 or contact Geebee Education.
    class=”table table-bordered table-striped”Aid from US Educational Institutions Financial aid for international undergraduate students is extremely rare. Foreign graduate students have significantly more opportunities for financial aid than foreign undergraduate students. The amount of financial aid for foreign graduate students is very limited. For more information, please see the list of schools with financial aid for international undergraduate students. Some US schools have direct exchange programs with their counterparts in foreign countries. Such exchange programs often include financial aid for the international student. To find out about these programs, ask your local university. International students who intend to enroll in a graduate or postdoctoral program at a US University should contact the schools that interest them. Ask the relevant departments and the university’s Financial Aid Office about financial aid for international students. Most support for graduate study in the US by international students is provided by the schools themselves in the form of teaching and research assistant ships. These assistant ships are based on academic merit, not financial need. The school will probably require you to pass the Test of Spoken English (TSE) to qualify for a teaching assistant ship. Financial aid is not available for English as a Second Language courses, so you should have a TOEFL (iBT) score of at least 105 to qualify for financial aid. If all else is equal, the student with the better English skills will get the financial aid.

     Aid from Private US Organizations and Sponsors

    There is very little financial aid for international students available from private sources, such as foundations and individual sponsors.

     Assistance from Your Family

    You may most likely have to rely on your own assets, your parent’s money, and contributions from relatives.

     Schools with Financial Aid for International Undergraduate Students

    Some US schools are more likely than others to offer financial aid for international undergraduate students. The lists below indicate which schools offer aid (including grants, loans, and jobs) to the largest numbers of international students. The lists are based on a list compiled by Douglas C. Thompson, Associate Vice President for Enrollment, The Culinary Institute of America. For inclusion, the schools must have an average award that is greater than 1/5 of the cost of attendance. The financial aid may include grants, loans, and jobs, and often includes both merit and need-based awards. Within each group, schools are listed alphabetically. If a school is not listed here, it probably does not have much financial aid for international students.
    Schools with Awards to More than 150 Students
    Arizona State University (AZ)Illinois Inst. of Tech. (IL)Ohio Wesleyan Univ. (OH)
    Barry University (FL)Liberty Univ. (VA)Princeton (NJ)
    Clark Univ. (MA)Louisiana State Univ.Univ. of Bridgeport (CT)
    Eastern Michigan Univ. (MI)Macalester College (MN)Univ. of Houston (TX)
    Barry University (FL)Macalester College (MN)Univ. of Pennsylvania (PA)
    Clark Univ. (MA)Marquette Univ. (WI)Univ. of South Florida (FL)
    Grinnell College (IA)MIT (MA)
    Harding Univ. (AR)Mount Holyoke College (MA)
    Mount Holyoke College (MA)
    Schools with Awards to 100 – 149 Students
    Brown Univ. (RI)Graceland College (IA)Stanford (CA)
    Calvin College (MI)Luther College (IA)Texas Christian Univ. (TX)
    College of Wooster (OH)Middlebury College (VT)Tri-State Univ. (IN)
    Dartmouth (NH)Northeast Louisiana (LA)Univ. of Miami (FL)
    Dordt College (IA)Oberlin (OH)Univ. of Rochester (NY)
    Eckerd College (FL)Savannah Coll. of Art (GA)Yale (CT)
    Florida Inst. of Tech. (FL)Slippery Rock Univ. (PA)
    Georgia Southern Univ. (GA)Smith College (MA)
    Schools with Awards to 50 – 99 Students
    Abilene Christian Univ. (TX)George Wash. Univ. (DC)Rochester Inst. of Tech. (NY)
    Allegheny College (PA)Goshen College (IN)St. Augustine’s College (NC)
    Augsburg College (MN)Houghton College (NY)St. Johns College (MD)
    Beloit College (WI)Julliard School (NY)St. Lawrence Univ. (NY)
    Bethany College (WV)OKnox College (IL)Lake Forest College (IL)
    Brandeis Univ. (MA)Lawrence Univ. (WI)St. Olaf College (MN)
    Bryn Mawr College (PA)Lewis & Clark (OR)Trinity College (CT)
    California Lutheran (CA)Lynn Univ. (FL)Tulane Univ. (LA)
    Cleveland Inst. of Music (OH)Maharishi Intl. Univ. (IA)Univ. of Maine (ME)
    Colby College (ME)Monmouth College (IL)Univ. of Wisc./Eau Clair (WI)
    Columbia Univ. (NY)North Park Univ. (IL)US International Univ. (CA)
    Concordia Coll. (MN)Principia College (IL)Washington College (MD)
    Washington Univ. (MO)
    Washington Univ. (MO)
    Wesleyan Univ. (CT)
    Western Maryland Coll. (MD)
    WWittenberg Univ. (OH)
    Schools with Awards to 15 – 49 Students
    Albright College (PA)Elizabethtown College (PA)Swarthmore College (PA)
    Augustana College (IL)Elmira College (NY)Taylor Univ. (IN)
    Bard College (NY)Gettysburg College (PA)Thomas Aquinas Coll. (CA)
    Bates College (ME)Gustavas Adolphus Coll. (MN)Troy State Univ. (AL)
    Bennington College (VT)Hamilton College (NY)Univ. of Chicago (IL)
    Bowdoin College (ME)Hampshire College (MA)Univ. of Colorado/Bldr (CO)
    CalTech (CA)Hood College (MD)Univ. of Oregon (OR)
    Central College (IA)Johns Hopkins (MD)Univ. of St. Thomas (MN)
    Coe College (IA)Kalamazoo College (MI)Univ. of the South (TN)
    Coe College (IA)Kalamazoo College (MI)Univ. of the South (TN)
    Colgate Univ. (NY)Kenyon College (OH)Vassar College (NY)
    Davidson College (NC)Lafayette College (PA)Wabash College (IN)
    Dickinson College (PA)Messiah College (PA)Wellesley College (MA)
    Earlham College (IN)Michigan State Univ. (MI)West Virginia Wesleyan (WV)
    Eastern Nazarene (MA)Mount Union College (OH)William Smith College (NY)
    Occidental College (CA)Williams College (MA)
    Spalding Univ. (KY)
This section lists a few organizations that may be able to provide some information about financial aid for international students.

 NAFSA: Association of International Educators

NAFSA: Association of International Educators (previously known as the National Association of Foreign Student Affairs) is the national professional association for international educators. NAFSA promotes international educational exchange between the United States and the rest of the world. In addition to providing information about financial aid for international students, NAFSA’s web site provides information about the organization, electronic news for international educators, and back issues of their quarterly magazine (International Educator). NAFSA also handles the INTER-L mailing list. For more information, call 1-202-737-3699, fax 1-202-737-3657, write to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, 1307 New York Avenue, NW, Eighth Floor, Washington, DC 20005-4701. To order NAFSA publications, call 1-800-836-4994, fax 1-412-741-0609, or write to NAFSA Publications, PO Box 1020, Sewickley, PA 15143.

 Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE)

CIEE provides assistance with study abroad programs and internships, international student identification cards, student travel services, and English as a second language instruction and testing. For more information, call 1-212-661-1414, fax 1-212-972-3231, or write to Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE), 205 E 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017 or contact Aar Overseas..

 Institute of International Education (IIE)

Founded in 1919, the IIE is the largest non-profit organization in the US devoted to international exchange. The IIE administers the US Fulbright program and manages more than 250 international education programs. Although the IIE assists the US Information Agency in the administration of the graduate Fulbright Fellowships for study in the United States, international students cannot apply directly to IIE for USIA Fulbright Fellowships. All international students should apply through the Fulbright Commission or US Information Service in their home country. Their site also includes a searchable version of their scholarship books. (The full text is only available to IIE members.) For more information, write to Institute for International Education, 809 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY 10017-3580, call 1-212-883-8200 or 1-212-984-5412, fax 1-212-984-5452, or contact Aar Overseas.

 Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES)

CIES is administratively affiliated with the Institute of International Education and provides assistance with the administration of the Fulbright Program. CIES also administers the NATO Advanced Research Fellowships and Institutional Grants Program. For more information, write to Council for International Exchange of Scholars, 3007 Tilden Street, NW, Suite 5L, Washington DC 20008-3009.

 International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX)

 Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International gives grants to university students and teachers to act as “goodwill ambassadors” around the world. The Rotary Foundation also sponsors international exchanges of business and professional people, and provides grants to improve the quality of life around the world. An example of this is their Ambassadorial Scholarship Program. For more information about their programs, write to Rotary Foundation, 1560 Sherman Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201 or call 1-708-866-3000.

 AAUW Education Foundation

The AAUW Education Foundation provides graduate fellowships to women with the equivalent of a Bachelors degree who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States. International Fellowships support graduate students writing Ph.D. dissertations and postdoctoral scholars conducting research in the United States. Upon completion of studies, fellowship recipients must return to their native country to pursue a professional career; preference will be given to applicants who can verify that they have a definite job awaiting them. Applications become available from August 1 through November 15. The deadline is December 2 (Airmail). For more information write to AAUW Educational Foundation, Department 60, 2201 N. Dodge St, Iowa City, IA 52243-4030, call 1-319-337-1716, or fax 1-319-337-1204, or write to American Association of University Women, 1111 Sixteenth Street N.W., Washington, DC 20036-4873 or call 1-202-728-7603.