Loans, Scholarships and Work for International Students – After Arrival

by neville

You have arrived in the United States, having followed our advice, with a less than 100% clear financial picture. Congratulations! If you are in your teens or twenties, you probably may not appreciate that uncertainty, especially financial uncertainty, will likely be a way of life henceforth. So this will be good practice!

Remember you should not choose to go to the USA under-funded. Only do so if you have exhausted all possibilities for amassing  a more solid financial foundation prior to leaving home, and choose not to be deterred by the frustrations and the obstacles and move forward with your dreams and aspirations.

Loans – Exercise Caution

What then, might you be able to secure by way of loans in the USA? The complexity will continue here. First, do not, under any circumstances, pay any money to any agent, website, organization, or financial entity for information, application, or alleged access to loans, scholarships, grants, or any other funding.

If an entity is genuinely in the business of granting loans to students, especially international students, then the financial interest and charges affiliated with the disbursement of that loan will be its source of revenue. And, any such entity will take particular pains to screen its applicants. As such, you should expect any legitimate loan agency to require a co-signer, usually a US citizen or permanent resident who is financially willing and able to pay the loan in the event that you default.

Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) like the OAS do offer such loans. The Leo Rowe Fund, for example, operated by OAS will extend loans to qualified students from Latin America and the Caribbean who can produce a guarantor. There are some commercial entities that make loans of varying terms. However, observed the ‘no upfront fee’ rule when evaluating these services. Seek guidance from your international student adviser before signing any contract of this magnitude also.

Scholarships – the Scams, and Schemes

You will also discover, to your amazement, that you are suddenly qualified for many scholarships and will be notified by mail of your qualification. Use your common sense here – if you did not apply for or solicit a scholarship, chances are you will not have one offered to you. So even though this very alluring letter offers or appear to offer a scholarship, resist the temptation.

The $20 or more you will spend pursuing this alleged scholarship will help to pay for the one or two token scholarships given by this exploitive entity that is just making a lucrative business from your dreams.

Scholarships – Legit Sources

Nonetheless, thousands of legitimate scholarships are indeed available to international students in the USA. Most of them are accessible through your admissions, student services or international office in the school you attend.

Vigorously and aggressively pursue these scholarships even if they appear to be relatively small in value. The reality is that you can reduce or eliminate your tuition with a combination of small scholarships, some as little as $200. Use the cumulative approach to solving your financial needs by accessing any and all scholarships for which you are eligible.

Your eligibility likely begins after you have completed one semester and is greatly enhanced if your GPA is high and you are active on campus. Student organizations, voluntary work, and community involvement all will pay potential scholarship dividends. Do not be afraid to let your personality, charm, and affability work for you.

Financial Aid – That’s Not for You

Every university has a “financial aid” office. And there is a natural temptation for international students to immediately go to that office. But with few exceptions, you are presumptively ineligible for most of their offerings.

While financial aid offices are a great resource place to gather information on what is available, more often you will learn about what is not available. Work Study, Pell Grants, federally subsidized loans, and most of the offerings in financial aid offices typically are off limits to international students. You are ineligible for those because of your status as a non resident of the USA.

Consider that you indicated to the United States government that you had the financial means to enter the university and the country. So it is counter intuitive to expect need based assistance, especially during your first year.

On Campus Work  – Your Ultimate Solution

Alas, the ultimate post arrival solution is the most traditional and old fashioned way to solve financial problems—work. For this ancient exercise, the obstacles are typically minimal, even for an international student. You simply have to have the desire, personality, and an open mind, and your options are many.

You are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week once you can find an on-campus job. We’ll elaborate on this in another unit, but suffice to say, this is your best option to subsidize your income and plausibly handle most of your recurrent non-tuition expenses.

Keep those options in mind. Pay heed to anything that appears too easy. Resist anything that asks for money ahead of time, and having arrived in the USA, your chances of succeeding in school and in life are now greatly enhanced.

If you have not yet read Loans, Grants and Handouts for International Students – Pre Departure do so, otherwise move on to What’s The Payoff, Is a US University Degree Worth It?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

SULTAN October 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm

i want to study in USA but i did not have enough money for it !! i will confirm my arrival if some financial aid group will help me ! looking forward for a good reply from American Authorities

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