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The Question Of Funding A US University Degree

There is no question: in some countries, a university education may have a significant price tag. On first look, this tag can make you feel a bit faint. How will you ever be able to get a good education and a job you enjoy without having a lifetime of lingering debt looming?

The US-UK Fulbright Commission reports that 900 US universities offer $10,000 minimum scholarships to international students; and nearly 200 universities offer packages over $40,000. Despite this seemingly positive news, it is still an extremely competitive path, and there are some additional things that you can do to plan ahead realistically for the costs of university, wherever you decide to go.

1. Start early.

Even saving the cost of one of your skinny soya double mocha lattes per week will give you an extra £800 after 4 years. Having a job during break times will not only help you save, but it will also contribute to your CV!

2. Be competitive.

Consider honestly whether you are likely to be competitive for academic or talent scholarships when adding to your university shortlist. Some US universities may also offer need-based funding to international applicants.

Set your academic performance expectations high as early as possible to increase your competitive edge for any scholarship or need-based awards available.

3. Use realistic cost comparisons.

First, include total cost factors when shortlisting universities to which you hope to apply. Alongside tuition costs, determine how much you will also need for housing, food, travel, insurance, etc.

Next (if you are a competitive scholarship candidate), factor average institutional awards into the sticker price of attendance and living costs to gain a better sense of how much a university will actually cost. Many universities actually have a calculator on their websites to help with this exercise.

4. Sleuth for external organisation scholarships.

There is quite a lot of non-university money that is available, but it can be rather tricky to find. Although this is a lot of work, sites like FastWeb and Big Future can offer excellent opportunities for significant funding sources.

5. Stay legal.

Be aware of work rules if you are not a US citizen or Green Card holder. Although it seems a simple thing to ‘learn and earn,’ international students in the US are limited to where and how much they can work. Approved work is only allowed to be on campus during term time and for only up to 20 hours per week.

On an additional note, information about your family’s financial situation will be part of the admission process. Universities are obliged to prove that you are able to pay for university (either yourself, or with scholarship funding) before you will be granted immigration clearance. This is generally composed of confirmation from your guardian that you will have funding available to you, and you will also want to include proof of any scholarship awards.

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