The biggest challenge after we select our major is which college to pick and, of course, how we are going to afford to attend. From an international students’ perspective, this may mean the end of the road as many local scholarships may not apply to them.
Our attention is drawn to the average cost of attendance, which normally is a lot higher than one may expect and results in prospective students being frustrated before they even apply. It is important to figure out as early as possible how to best position yourself to cover your financial needs.
First and foremost, as per our last topic “Major or College,” we emphasized the need to apply to as many colleges as possible. It’s a great idea to divide your college selections into 3 or more groups. For example, where you know you qualify (GPA and Cost of Tuition), where you hope to be admitted, and finally where you wish you can be admitted. This gives you more options and increases the likelihood of receiving a big financial-aid package. Don’t forget to look at how much a college receives in endowments, rather than just the average cost of attendance. This figure is a good indicator of how much a college has in its coffers to award in scholarships.
Second, based on your financial background, there are different ways colleges can handle your financial needs. Colleges have different sets of scholarships such as need based scholarships, merit based scholarships, and first-come-first-served based scholarships. Students need to be proactive by consulting with a college’s financial aid department to see if they qualify for these options. Need based scholarships are available for students who: (a) show they have achieved success despite hardship or (b) an unusual challenge and (c) may have not had the opportunity for enriching educational or personal circumstances or (d) the socio-economic climate of their community. International students are not exempt from also filing for a need-based out of campus work petition to the federal government. Part-time employment can help ease the financial burden of college costs such as books, room and board, cellphone bills, etc.
Merit based scholarships exist for those students who show exceptional academic talent; these are highly competitive and thus require you to have an excellent record of good grades. Some universities may also offer first-come-first-served scholarships; a lot of ground work and research has to be done to realize all of the opportunities open to you at college.
Finally, as an international student, it is important to ask for a guidance counselor who is able to assess your financial needs and advise accordingly. College resources such as guidance counselors are available in colleges to offer more detailed information on how you can lessen your financial burdens and complete your study at the college of your choice.