The process of applying for financial aid as an international student looking to study in the U.S. can be confusing and messy. At BridgeU, we receive many emails from students asking about how this process works for international students. So in this post, we at BridgeU demystify the application process and answer a few frequently asked questions about how to go about getting the most out of the financial aid opportunities on offer for international students.
How does applying for financial aid as an international student work?
In the U.S., universities have different processes for applying for financial aid, so firstly, it’s important to check out what the requirements are for the universities that you are applying to.
What is the FAFSA and do I need to fill it out?
The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It’s used by U.S. citizens and permanent residents to apply for financial aid. International students are not eligible for the US government aid programs. However, many schools will ask international students to submit a FAFSA so that they may use the data for assessing financial need.
Ok, so what do I need to do?
The truth is: the requirements vary from school to school! A good place to start is the CSS/PROFILE. Many universities will ask you to file a CSS/PROFILE online to the College Board. This will provide the universities you are applying to with the most accurate data about your financial needs. You can do so here.
How do I know if I have to fill it out?
You can find a list of the universities that require students to fill out the CSS/PROFILE here.
How do I know if I need to submit a PROFILE to the College Board?
You should only do it if the university you are applying for specifies that you need to.
What kind of information should I expect to provide?
You will need to provide information about your family income from the last tax year and the previous tax year. Also, international students are asked for additional information about household expenses, so any documents that can provide this well be helpful!
My parents live and work in the U.S., but they are not from the U.S. Do I apply as an international student for aid?
You will apply for financial aid following the procedures for U.S. citizens, but you will not file a FAFSA.
What are my chances of getting a scholarship to the U.S.?
Your chances vary widely depending on which institutions you are applying to. We wrote a blog post a while ago describing the options on offer for internationals, and listing which universities are most friendly to international students in need. You can check it out here!
I still have questions!