Scholarships and Financial aid for International Students – Updated 2021

It might be difficult to look for good financial help for colleges and universities as a foreign student who wishes to do a Master’s in the USA. But we do need to look at the bright face of hundreds of opportunities for your studies to receive funding here.

Only financial assistance, scholarships, grants allocated to international students by particular colleges and even certain private student loans would be available to them. And it is also important to remember that U.S. federal student assistance such as federal loans or work-study cannot be applied for by international students.

Financial Aid for international Students

The cost of education in the US is pretty expensive and it can be really prohibitive for you if you are an international student from a country whose currency trades at a value below $$$.  On top of the high sticker price of education, add the cost of living and you are easily looking at your education bill of $50,000 – $100,000 for 2 years.

To reduce the financial burden of international students, some US Universities and colleges provide financial aid. Financial aid can be a combination of scholarships, grants, loans, and student employment. Scholarships and financial aids are very limited for international students in US colleges and universities and the competition is really tough to get these financial aids.

Graduate international students find more chances of financial aid when compared to undergraduate international students. International students are not eligible for federal aid programs, such as scholarships sponsored by state governments.

Financial aid offered to international students may be classified into two types: Merit-Based Aid and Need-based Aid

Merit-based Aid: It is awarded on the basis of academic excellence. It is generally awarded in the form of scholarships. There is no need to reapply for merit-based aid every year. It is automatically reapplied to your financial package each year.

Need-based Aid: It is generally awarded on the basis of the financial need of students. It is typically awarded as grants, student loans, or work-study You have to reapply for need-based aid every year because a family’s financial situation will likely change from year to year.

There are six US universities that provide fully need-based financial aid to all students, including international students. These are:

  • Amherst College
  • Yale University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Princeton University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Harvard University

Let’s have a brief introduction of financial aid offered by US universities and colleges to international students:

Scholarships and Grants :

Scholarship and grants are considered free money and these two are often called Gift Aid because this financial aid does not have to be repaid. Scholarships are usually merit-based while grants are generally need-based. However, there are limited scholarship options for international students but the US Government and many US colleges/universities offer some good scholarships to international students. Few of them are as under:

Amherst College Scholarship: This College offers need-based financial aid to international students.

Columbia College Scholarship: The college offers about 20 scholarships and awards to outstanding international students.

Cornell University Scholarship: This college offers a limited amount of financial aid to international students. The scholarships are not fully need-based.

Dartmouth College Scholarships: This college offers a need-based scholarship to all students including international students. It is committed to meet the 100% need of students during all four years of the undergraduate program.

Illinois Wesleyan University Scholarship: It offers merit-based scholarships to qualified international students. The scholarship amount ranges from $3000 to $18000 per year and it is renewable.

Iowa State University Scholarship: This college offers merit-based scholarship and the scholarship amount range from $4000 to $7000. It is renewable every year.

Michigan State University Scholarship: This college offers various scholarships and grants to outstanding international students.


You can also call it self -help aid because it includes both study and part-time employment. Assistantship can be need-based or merit-based. But generally, international students get financial assistantship on the basis of merit rather than need. It can be Research Assistantship or Teaching Assistantship. Research assistants and Teaching Assistants are required to work approximately 20 hours per week. And in return, they get a stipend. The stipend offered varies across college and their departments.

International Student Loan :

It is also considered self-help aid and most student loans require repayment. International Student Loans are again very limited. All international students are required to have a cosigner to get a loan. A cosigner is a person who guarantees to repay the loan amount if by any chance the borrower can not repay the loan. The below-mentioned sources are very helpful for the international student loan:

Research Assistantship in US colleges

Teaching Assistantship in US colleges

Fullbright Scholarship for study in the US 

Helpful resources for financial aid & scholarships:

US Government and much other organization outside the university/college offers financial aid to international students. Some of them are:

Check out the below links to answer most of your questions on International Scholarships.

Can International Students Qualify in FAFSA for Masters Programs?

Graduate Scholarship for international students

Financial Aid for International Students in the USA for graduate Programs

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