Can International Students Qualify in FAFSA for Masters Programs?

FAFSA is an application to help the US government determine the need for financial assistance for students. This is a free Federal Student Assistance application, which is typically done in the last year of high school or the year before university attendance.

Free Federal Student Aid Application (FAFSA) seeks to detect what financial support the federal government or schools might have for US citizens and those qualifying non-citizens. Although foreign students do not apply to obtain FAFSA federal assistance, the form remains relevant. What is the reason? Any schools will need to decide whether you can get funding from the school or the state in which the school is situated specifically. You cannot send this form online as a foreign student who does not have a US Social Security number but should print a copy and mail it. The sooner you send it, the better because some financial assistance is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Forms other than FAFSA, such as the International Student Financial Aid Application (ISFAA), or school-specific forms, may be required by some schools. Contact the schools you are involved in figuring out the form they choose before taking the time to complete one of these forms. Notice that not all schools provide international financial support, which may be an important consideration when applying.

Who is an eligible Non-Citizen Graduate Student for Applying to FAFSA?

The FSA classifies the following individuals as eligible non-citizens:

  • A permanent resident with a “Green Card”
  • An I-551C conditional permanent resident
  • A person with an Arrival-Departure Record I-94 from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with any of these designations: Refugee, Asylum Granted, Indefinite Parole, Humanitarian Parole, or Cuban-Haitian Entrant
  • A holder of a T-visa, which is issued to victims of human trafficking, or you are the child of someone who holds this type of visa
  • A battered immigrant-qualified alien, meaning you are a victim of abuse or the child of a victim as defined by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

The Pell Grant, the FSEOG grant, and the Federal work-study scheme are open to the citizens of the Republic of Palau. Pell grants are available for residents of the Micronesian federal states and the Marshall Islands Nation.

The American Samoa and Northern Mariana Islands citizens of the United States are entitled to receive any form of federal financial assistance.

In order to validate citizenship, qualifying non-citizens should be prepared to submit appropriate records. In addition to the US social security number, Green cardholders must include their Alien Identification Number on their FAFSA®.

Filling a FAFSA® as an International Graduate Student

  • In order to obtain funding support at the school and State level, foreign students who do not count as qualified non-citizens should also file their own FAFSA®.
  • International students would have to print out a FAFSA® to send a hard copy to the FSA without US social security numbers. When your FAFSA® has been confirmed, ask the financial aid office of your school to request the release of your application to your school.
  • To assess your eligibility for scholarships, loans, and grants provided by the school, state, and other miscellaneous bodies, the school will use your FAFSA®.
  • Contact your school’s financial aid office and your local embassy after filing your FAFSA® to see what other opportunities for financial assistance might be open to you.

How does financial aid work for international students?

Applying for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) usually only applies to U.S. citizens and certain noncitizens. In most circumstances, international students are not eligible to receive federal student aid through the U.S. Department of Education by submitting a FAFSA form. However, there are some cases where they may qualify for specific federal student aid programs.

  1. Eligible Noncitizens: Many noncitizens are eligible to submit the FAFSA and potentially receive federal student aid. Eligibility is based on your status as a U.S. permanent resident (green card holder) or refugee/asylum seeker. Applying for this assistance could open the door to new possibilities regarding furthering your education.
  2. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Recipients: Dreamers, more formally known as recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, cannot submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  3. Aid for Study Abroad: It is possible for international students seeking to gain a degree from an eligible U.S. institute to obtain federal student aid while participating on an approved study abroad program. To be applicable, the applicant must meet the criteria of the program as determined by their home college, and secure approval from said institution.

For international students, accessing federal student aid can be a difficult task. As such, they should research other options for finding financial assistance such as scholarships, grants, institutional aid, private loans, and sponsorships from their home countries or external organizations. This is especially important to note for any individual considering higher education in another country.

When considering ways to fund their education, international students should reach out to the financial aid offices of the educational institutions in which they are interested. In doing this, these offices will be able to provide useful information on associated grants and scholarships available for international students, along with details on how to apply for them. Additionally, they can help with comprehending any specific requirements that must be fulfilled.

What are the sources of Financial Aid available for International Graduate Students who are not eligible for FAFSA?

1. Your Home Country

Your own home country could theoretically be a source of support, either from your home country’s organizations or enterprises or your government. Saudi Arabia, for example, has initiated a scheme that provides over 10,000 Saudi students studying in the USA with full scholarships. Examine this choice carefully before you leave. When you apply for assistance from your home country, keep in mind that certain stipulations will be involved. For starters, after you have graduated, you will have to return home to your country.

2. International Organizations

There are many international organizations, such as the Fulbright Commission, which grant assistance to students around the world. Other such aid-providing organizations are:

Many of these organizations need you to be in your home country when you apply, so prepare ahead, and they can be very competitive.

3. Institutional Aid

There are several public and private colleges that give students financial benefits to attend their schools. In the form of assistantships and fellowships, most of the institutional assistance provided to foreign students is reserved for graduate studies. Because it is unusual for U.S. universities to provide assistance to foreign undergraduate students, such scholarships are also very competitive. Bear in mind that in some cases, both private and public institutions may waive registration fees; make sure to contact the university to take advantage of any supplements or exemptions they can provide.

Merit-based scholarships are awarded on the basis of exceptional qualifications, abilities, or expertise. Your university can have TOEFL ratings, academic records, creative talent, musical potential, or athletic ability-based scholarships. Usually, merit-based scholarships are very competitive. You would need to show outstanding skills in the appropriate region in order to be considered.

Based on financial need, need-based scholarships are awarded. Those students who can show a need are eligible for this form of assistance at a predetermined stage.

Academic departments within the university may have funds dedicated to assisting foreign students with special needs and/or talent. To take advantage of the special funding programs they provide, check with your university and/or your main department.

4. Private Loans

Although rare, international student loans are available for individuals who meet certain criteria. A co-signer is required for certain loans. A cosigner is someone who promises and is liable to the loaning entity for payment if you are unable to pay back the loan for whatever reason. International students are issued with private loans from a number of organizations and institutions. Many offer support to students from particular regions or countries that follow such requirements and are targeted.

5. Interest-Free Loans

The Association of American States, an international organization headquartered in Washington, DC, (1889 F St. NW #619, Washington, DC 20006) offers interest-free loans to eligible students from Latin American and Caribbean countries through the Rowe Fund program to help them support their graduate, postgraduate, and final two years of undergraduate studies at accredited universities within the United States See or e-mail the Rowe Fund Service at [email protected] for more information and to download the forms.

Know more about FAFSA,

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About Emily

Emily is a DePaul University Undergraduate student. She is a major in computer science and a mathematical minor. Emily plans to pursue a Master's degree in computer science in the future. Emily's key goal in the technology sector is to get into the right category.

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