International students are required to have sufficient funds to pay for their first year of college before they can be issued an F-1 visa to study in the U.S. International students entering the U.S. on a J-1 or M-1 visa must demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to cover the cost of their entire stay in the U.S. Some colleges will require international students to prove via supporting documentation that they have enough funds to cover the cost of their entire education even for an F-1 visa.
International students should not assume that they can work to earn the money they need while in the U.S., as employment opportunities for international students are rare and restricted. Some visas do not allow international students to work while in the U.S. and others limit them to part-time employment. In some cases international students are restricted to on-campus jobs.
Most colleges and universities in the United States do not award scholarships to international students. Only about 150 colleges and universities have any significant amount of scholarship money for international students. According to the Open Doors Data initiative of the Institute of International Education (IIE), 19% of international students in the U.S. receive scholarship money from the college or university they are attending, compared with 65% relying primarily on friends and family to pay for school in the U.S.
Instead, international students rely on their own resources, support from friends and family, aid from their country’s government, international organizations and aid from private organizations. This may not seem very friendly, but U.S. students have a similar experience when seeking support for study outside the U.S.
International organizations that may have funds available include the United Nations, Organization of American States, Soros Foundation, and World Health Organization (WHO). Graduate students may be able to obtain a Fulbright scholarship and should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate or EducationUSA. Limited funding may be available from the U.S. government for students from particular countries through the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID).
International students can also search for scholarships through free scholarship matching services, such as StudentScholarshipSearch.com. These scholarship search sites include some scholarships that do not require U.S. citizenship. The Institute of International Education (IIE) provides a specialized database of scholarships and grants for international students to study in the U.S. through Funding for U.S. Study Online. Other resources include InternationalScholarships.com, Scholars4dev.com and EduPASS.org. International students may be able to obtain a private student loan from a U.S. lender if they can get a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident to cosign the loan.