Financial Aid: Universities with the Best Financial Aid Packages

getting financial aid to study

Over the years the amount of students applying and enrolling into US schools and colleges have been increasing rapidly yearly, about 950,000 students applied for education in the United States between 2015 and 2016.

There are many universities and colleges in the United States although application for admission is very tedious and very hectic especially for international students who plans to come study in the country. Schooling in the United States isn’t affordable for everyone due to the high cost of education there compared to other parts of the world, it can however become cheaper for you if you get financial aid or apply to a college or university with lower costs.

This post, will reveal some of the best universities for international students, if you’re looking for a large financial aid to help cover the cost of study, or a college with large international students population you’re reading the right thing. 

Before Starting your US College Application.

As an international student, you’ll have to take a few extra steps if you plan on studying in the US. You’ll want to do your own research on any further steps or restrictions for students coming from your particular country, but I’ll give you a basic rundown here, so you know where to start, and you can check out our complete guide to the process for more details.

According to the US State Department, here are the five steps you need to take to study in the US:

Step 1: Research Your Options

If you’re reading this page, you’ve already begun this step! You’ll want to start this process 12-18 months before the start of the academic year you hope to start studying in the US. It’s especially important to gather information about application criteria and deadlines.

If you need some extra help getting started, you should check out our guide on how to research colleges.   

Step 2: Finance Your Studies

Again, you’ve already started gathering info on financing your studies if you’ve checked out the schools at the top of the page. Like I mentioned, schools can be pretty expensive in the US, so you’ll want to have a plan in place for funding your education.

Read more about the different types of financial aid and the schools with the most generous aid policies.   

Step 3: Complete Your College Applications

Each college app is unique, although there’s generally a lot of overlap. It’s important to start these applications well before the deadlines (which are often December-January). You might want to read more about the typical college application timeline.

As an international applicant, you’ll want to be especially careful about arranging for the SAT, ACT, and/or TOEFL.  You may not have to submit your TOEFL scores to some colleges if you meet a certain score threshold on SAT/ACT sections.

Read more about SAT and ACT prep for ESL and bilingual students to help plan for these important parts of US college applications.  

Step 4: Apply for Your Student Visa

It’s important to allocate plenty of time to complete and submit your visa application, in case any complications come up. Visit the State Department’s website for more information on applying for your visa.

Step 5: Prepare for Your Departure

This is where you square everything away and make sure all your travel arrangements and documents are ready to go and in compliance. Your new school may also have information available for things like student health insurance, climate, local transportation options, and housing.

What Makes a School Good for International Students? 

Applying for admission to college/university is stressful for students all over the world. If you plan to enroll in a college or university, particularly one that’s located in the US, there things you should note beforehand.

Paying for your education: US schools are known to be very expensive even citizens can’t afford college sometimes; international students also aren’t eligible for many Financial Aid programmes

Finding an environment of your peers. Although some students may not be concerned with finding a group of international peers at a US school, many may feel more comfortable with a student body composed of a healthy mix of domestic and international students. You may also find more resources, student groups, and activities geared towards students from outside the US at these schools.

Achieving comfort and success in a very new environment. As an international student, you may be looking for specialized social, academic, professional, and language support. Moving to a new country is stressful – it’s a good idea to think about what sorts of support systems would help you transition.

Although international students may have other concerns when applying to US schools, I think the above points are the most universal. The rest of this post will list the types of schools that address these problems, i.e. the best colleges for international students. I’ll list the schools that give generous financial aid to foreign nationals, boast large percentages of international students, and offer special support to non-US citizens. Your own priorities will dictate which type of school might serve you best.

Let’s get to the good stuff – which schools should you actually start checking out? 

Securing financial aid to US

Cheapest Colleges for International Students

International students aren’t eligible for federal financial aid, a big source of funding for students here in the US. Unless a school’s total Cost of Attendance isn’t an issue for you, you may want to consider institutions that allocate large amounts of their own financial aid money to international students. A school’s generosity may help cover the deficit left by a lack of access to federal aid.

A little background information before we get started: attending college in the US is expensive. In fact, the US one of the most expensive places in the world to get a college education. And just because a school offers financial aid doesn’t mean you won’t end up paying quite a bit in the long run – it’s common for students in the US to be saddled with significant student loan debt. If cost is a concern for you, the following list of cheapest colleges for international students should be a great place to start your school search. They all awarded financial aid to at least 50 students from abroad for the 2014-2015 school year.   

A final disclaimer: the schools below are all pretty high-ranked institutions. Schools like this tend to have larger endowments and more money to give to students via financial aid. You’d have to be a very competitive applicant to gain admission to many of these schools

Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY

  • Number of international students who received aid: 96
  • Average aid amount awarded: $56,600

Yale University, New Haven, CT

  • Number of international students who received aid: 322
  • Average aid amount awarded: $55,862

Amherst College, Amherst, MA

  • Number of international students who received aid: 154
  • Average aid amount awarded: $55,673

Williams College, Williamstown, MA

  • Number of international students who received aid: 87
  • Average aid amount awarded: $55,119

Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

  • Number of international students who received aid: 77
  • Average aid amount awarded: $54,996

Tufts University, Medford, MA

•   Number of international students who received aid: 69

•   Average aid amount awarded: $54,896

Trinity College, Hartford, CT

  • Number of international students who received aid: 166
  • Average aid amount awarded: $54,788

Columbia University, New York, NY

  • Number of international students who received aid: 176
  • Average aid amount awarded: $53,972

Stanford University, Stanford, CA

  • Number of international students who received aid: 150
  • Average aid amount awarded: $53,422

Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

  • Number of international students who received aid: 524
  • Average aid amount awarded: $53,409

Duke University, Durham, NC

  • Number of international students who received aid: 173
  • Average aid amount awarded: $53,334

Colleges with the Largest International Student Presence

If you’re applying to schools in the US, financial aid is not likely to be your only concern. You might also be wondering which colleges and universities have large international populations.

Large numbers of international students at a particular school indicate a more diverse student body. If this criterion is important to you, you’ll definitely want to check out the following list of schools. Keep in mind that this list is based on the percentage of international students, and not necessarily raw numbers of international students — many large, metropolitan schools attract a significant number of students from outside the US.

You might notice that there’s no overlap between the following schools and schools that provide the most financial aid to international students. If you’re interested primarily in schools with a large international student presence, keep in mind they may be significantly more expensive than the institutions listed above. 

Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL

  • Percentage of international students: 32.9%
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 3,636

New School, New York, NY

  • Percentage of international students: 31.7%
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 6,695

Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL

  • Percentage of international students: 29.8%
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 3,099

University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK

  • Percentage of international students: 26.7%
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 3,473

Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL

  • Percentage of international students: 23%
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 1,976

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

  • Percentage of international students: 20.9%
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 6,309

University of California – San Diego, La Jolla, CA

  • Percentage of international students: 19.9%
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 24,810

Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI

  • Percentage of international students: 19.6%
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 1,805

Northeastern University, Boston, MA

  • Percentage of international students: 19.1%
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 13,510

University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA

  • Percentage of international students: 19%
  • Total undergraduate enrollment: 6,845

Colleges with Special Services for International Students

Some of the best colleges for international students offer specialized programs that make studying in the US a bit easier for foreign nationals. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but it’ll give you a place to start if you’re looking for schools that offer unique, helpful services to international students. 

Some of these schools have dedicated centers for international students. They provide assistance in a variety of areas, including ESL instruction and student visa guidance. Other schools foster an easier transition for international students with mentorship programs or regular faculty check-ins. You may even find specialty scholarship programs meant for students coming from other countries. 

Many other schools offer resources to students both domestic and international, but the following programs are particularly notable for students coming from abroad. If you think you may need one special program in particular – ESL assistance, for example – I’d encourage you to contact the admissions office at any school of interest for more information. 

 University of Arizona, Tuscon, AZ

U of A hosts the Center for English as a Second Language, which helps students adjust to using English in professional and academic spaces. For more general assistance, students can go to the school’s dedicated International Services Center

Finally, U of A offers an international student scholarship program. Students can receive between $2,000 and $10,000 per year. 

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

An impressive 8,600 international students attended Purdue during the 2013-2014 academic year. The school publishes a quarterly newsletter for international students. Additionally, Purdue fosters an International Friendship Program where domestic students serve as mentors to ease any difficulty in transitioning to a US school.

Clemson University, Clemson, SC

About 1,500 international students enroll at Clemson each year. The school requires regular meetings between international students and staff to make sure students are happy and successful. 

University of Wisconsin – Madison, Madison, WI

About 4,000 students from 130 different countries attend the University of Wisconsin. The school hosts a couple of notable programs. 

First, the BRIDGE (Building Relationships in Diverse Global Environments) program connects international students with US students during their first year in the US. 

Second, the Assembly of International Students connects the many international groups on campus to promote cultural awareness and understanding within the student body. 

Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Temple offers some alternative options to students who may not be ready for a fully English-immersive experience in the US. Their Intensive English Language Program(IELP) is an educational program that preps students to enroll at a US school or to get a job that requires English proficiency. It is NOT a BA program, but a pre-program of sorts to prepare students for further study. 

Temple also offers provisional admission to competitive applicants who score below admissions threshold on the TOEFL. 

Hope to see you at the top soon.

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