Funding from the university
Your best resource for funding will be the university to which you are applying. Over 600 US universities offer scholarships worth $20,000 or more to international students. Of these, 250 offer ‘full ride’ scholarships.
US universities can offer several types of funding to international students:
Need-based financial aid
Your financial need is calculated by subtracting the amount your family is able to contribute towards your university education from a university's published cost of attendance. If you can pay the full cost of attendance, you will receive no financial aid.
Dozens of universities will fund the full demonstrated financial need of admitted international students. However, many of these will factor an applicant's financial circumstances into their admissions decision. This is known as need-aware admissions. If you have high financial need and are a need-aware university's most desirable applicant, it is possible your full financial need will be met.
Some universities are need-blind and do not base your admissions decision on your financial circumstances.
Very few universities in the USA are need-blind and offer full financial need to international students. These universities do not take your finances into account during the admissions process and will meet your full financial need if you are admitted. They are the most competitive for admission.
If a university is only able to meet a proportion of your financial need, you may be able to source additional funding from merit-based university and external scholarships.
Check out our webinar on finding financial aid:
Niche scholarships are offered to attract particular applicants, in order to fulfil a particular mission or need at the university.
They might be based on any type of applicant criteria, such as:
- Country of origin
- Religious denomination
- Medical condition
These scholarships are awarded on conditions of merit in a few categories, such as:
- Official school qualifications and grades
- Admissions exam results
- Performing arts talent
- Community service
- Extracurricular involvement
Sometimes these can be guaranteed scholarships, eg if any admitted student achieves a certain ACT/SAT score or above.
For non-guaranteed university scholarships, you should apply to universities where you know you are above their average academic profile. View our Choosing section for more information.
Read our dedicated page on sports scholarships.
Do they offer it?
Use the following resources to find universities that offer financial aid and/or scholarships to international students:
- BigFuture College Search (under ‘Paying’)
- BigFuture Scholarship Search
- EducationUSA Financial Aid
- Fastweb (you can register using a US university’s mailing address)
Make sure you indicate you are an international student if this is an option.
These resources are not exclusive. Remember to check the websites of each university you're interested in, to see if they offer funding to international students. This includes the pages for their:
- Admissions office
- Financial aid office
- Subject departments
Applying for it
Applications for university funding are often integrated into the application for admission.
For need-based financial aid, you will likely have to fill in the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE form to demonstrate your family's financial background. You should check if the university accepts PROFILE, or if they use their own system.
Niche and merit scholarships might require writing an additional essay or submitting your application by an earlier date.