Can I afford to study in the United States?

by MPOWER Financing | In Guides and Tools | 28 December 2022 | Updated on: May 17th, 2023

The cost of college is more expensive than ever, for both U.S. citizens studying in the United States and for international students. But the cost difference between the two is significant. One year of public, in-state education averages less than US$10,000. For international students, that figure is upwards of US$45,000 a year, and it’s even more to attend a private school.

Because of these stark figures, it’s important for international students to explore costs and financial solutions. If you’re thinking about studying in the U.S., ask yourself a few questions first.

1. Can I cover the costs?

Expenses are the biggest concern for most students thinking about attending a university in the U.S. While tuition and fees are already five figures, there are other costs to consider, like:

  • Room and board: Do you plan on living on campus? Or if that’s not available, do you have the means to afford living off-campus in an apartment or house? If you get an apartment, you might be subjected to a credit check and in many cases, payment for the first month, the last month, and a security deposit.
  • Transportation: You’ll need to cover the cost of getting to the U.S. and traveling home for holidays. In addition, you will want to consider how you’ll get around – especially if you’re living off-campus.
  • Food and other expenses: You will have the option to purchase access to a dining hall meal plan, which is a great option if you’re living on-campus. If you choose not to purchase a meal plan, you’ll need to cover the cost of food and meals both on-campus and off. In addition, don’t forget to factor in fees for other needs, like home goods, utility bills, clothes and shoes.

2. Can I find less expensive options?

College expenses vary based on the institution. There’s not a standard cost across the board as many colleges set their own costs for tuition, fees, and other expenses that contribute to the total cost of attendance. 

While the cost to international students to study in the U.S. is high, not all schools charge the same amount. Before you settle on one, make sure you explore all your options. Look at schools based on:

  • Location: Like cost of living, the cost of schools on either coast tend to be more expensive than those in the middle of the country. 
  • Degree: There are many different schools that specialize in your potential degree. You may have one in mind but look at backups to see which ones would make financial sense.
  • Type of school: Public institutions tend to be less expensive than private ones. 

3. Do I qualify for financial aid?

International students don’t qualify for federally awarded scholarships and grants through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but there are other ways to secure funding for your international education.

Many private businesses and nonprofits offer scholarships and grants to international students. However, every award has different requirements. Usually students attending school in the U.S. are eligible, but you’ll need to check eligibility requirements for each award to confirm.

Schools also commonly offer scholarships to students, check to see if your department has scholarships and grants for international students within your program. 

Scholarships, grants, and sponsorships are one of the best ways to pay for school, since there is no requirement to repay these awards (although there may be other conditions when accepting these awards). It can be a lot of upfront work to find, apply for, and maintain scholarships and grants, but the more awards you get to pay for your college education now, the less you’ll need to borrow and eventually pay back later.

4. Can I take out student loans?

While international students can’t take out federal student loans, they can take out private student loans. 

Not every lender offers loans to international students. And of the lenders that do, there might be limitations on how much you can borrow, what that money can go towards, and the type of school you’ll attend. Say, for instance, you have a lot of scholarships but have some gaps in your funding and only need to borrow US$5,000. Some private student loan lenders have a large minimum — like US$10,000 — that could stop you from borrowing from that lender. And if you do, you risk borrowing more than you need and paying interest on that larger loan later.

Some lenders like MPOWER Financing are specifically geared towards international students who are studying in the U.S. With MPOWER you can apply for a loan for as little as US$2,001, up to US$100,000 and use that money for more than just tuition and fees when studying in the U.S. It can be used for living expenses (both on- and off-campus) and other school-related expenses and needs. 

One setback many borrowers face is the credit requirement. Without a decent credit history and score, many borrowers could get denied for a private student loan and run the risk of not being able to afford schooling. Because of this, borrowers might need to get a cosigner to even qualify for a loan. MPOWER doesn’t require you to have an existing credit profile, cosigner, or to put up collateral to get a loan.

MPOWER also offers borrowers visa help, payment assistance, and career advice. If you’re looking for a student loan as an international student, it’s important to make sure you qualify and know what you’ll get out of borrowing from different lenders. 

The Bottom Line

Studying in the U.S. is a big goal for some students, and it’s important to explore all your funding options first. For instance, if you can secure grants, scholarships, and sponsorships at a relatively inexpensive school, you can likely afford to study in the U.S. as an international student.

If you still need funds after you’ve utilized all scholarship opportunities, explore if you’re eligible for private student loans. Not all lenders offer loans to international students so it’s important to make sure you meet all the requirements before completing an application.

Author: View all post by MPOWER Financing

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