How To Pay for Your Education If You Don’t Have Money

How To Pay for Your Education If You Don't Have Money

One of the main obstacles that stands in the way of those wishing to study in the USA is the high cost of education. On average, a bachelor’s degree in the US costs $8,000-18,000, but many colleges can cost you up to $30,000 a year. However, you can try your luck by contacting American foundations that are ready to issue scholarships or grants to foreign students and graduate students.

According to statistics, more than 400,000 foreign students enter every year in various American colleges and universities. About 7% of them receive assistance from the educational institution itself, and 5-6% from a sponsor or some foundation.

We are not saying that getting financial help is easy. It largely depends on what program and where you study (for example, it is much more difficult for students of bachelor’s programs to get money than future masters), what is your specialization, academic success, financial situation, etc. But it’s worth a try. And the more effort you make, the more real your prospects.


There are several types of scholarships you can apply for. It’s just that a “scholarship” is the most coveted kind of financial assistance since it usually does not involve any reciprocal action other than gratitude. The scholarship usually goes towards tuition fees, but sometimes it can also include living expenses. It can be paid by the state (for example, by a publicly funded organization), an individual state, the educational institution, etc.

Another type of scholarship is called fellowship. In this case, assistance is usually allocated through informal scientific societies that offer scholarships to graduate students, candidates and doctors of sciences, engaged in special projects in a particular field. Often fellowships are paid to members of various minorities who are underrepresented in a given area of ​​research – including women. There is, for example, a special scholarship for female students – the Delta Gamma Fellowship. In many cases, financial aid programs of this kind are limited to members of an organization such as the American Historical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, or the Association of American Geographers. Being a member of such an organization is very prestigious, and foreigners are not always accepted in them.

You can also get a grant. This is a “top level” scholarship. A grant is usually allocated for a scientific project (research) and covers all the costs of its implementation. A grant may be paid by any organization that specifically hires a student to conduct research. In addition to the cost of the work, the grant usually includes the cost of transport, accommodation and other related expenses. Many grant programs fund doctoral dissertations.

Another type of material support is “assistant work”. This is not actually a scholarship, because in return certain work is required: the assistant undertakes to help the supervisor or professor in conducting research. The amount of work can be strictly specified – for example, 20 hours a week. As a rule, only graduate students can get such assistance. Assistantship is useful in that a postgraduate student gains valuable work experience and it is easier for him or her to establish contacts with university professors. Most colleges hire “teaching assistants” to help with seminars, exam counseling, credits, etc., and if a graduate student specializes in a subject that is taught at the undergraduate level, then he or she has a good chance of getting this place.

In addition to scholarships, there are loans. This is the most common form of receiving money to pay for education for US citizens and permanent residents. Loans are state (they are called Stafford) and university. Such large and world famous universities as Harvard, Princeton and others provide loans to future students from their budget. Loans are also divided into subsidiary and non-subsidiary. In the first case, interest begins to accrue after graduation, in the second – during it. Many student loans are issued for ten or more years. In any case, it would be useful for you to ask if they offer such loans to foreign students. If this is not possible in the first year, do not be discouraged. Perhaps, you will be able to get a regular loan from a local bank after a year or two of studying in the USA.

If you need a fast loan to pay for college the same day you apply, you also have a way out: you can use payday loans. Such loans are the easiest to access but they are only suitable if you need a small amount (up to $1,000) for up to 30 days. Since payday loans are short-term, borrower eligibility criteria are relaxed. There is no paperwork or collateral involved. For example, to qualify for loans in Ohio, you only need to have some kind of identity verification and a bank account. Payday lenders do not perform hard credit checks. Instead, this is a good way to improve your credit score. US citizens and permanent residents prefer to apply for such loans online. If approved, you can expect to have the money in your bank account within a few hours or even instantly.

Another form of financial assistance is sponsorship. It can be obtained from a company, a charitable organization, or even an individual. For example, a diabetic friend of mine has been studying at an American university for several years at the expense of a sponsor – an employee of an organization that provides insulin to American diabetics.

The scholarship can also be obtained in a “hidden” form. For example, a university may, upon request, reduce the cost of education for you if you indicate on the application form that you cannot pay for your studies and need financial assistance. The discount at some private universities can be up to 50%.

Many colleges have a “gap” system. This means that there is a break in your financial aid, during which you must pay for your studies yourself. One way to “get out” is to find yourself a job on the college campus for this time.

How to get a scholarship

To get money in America, it is necessary to collect a lot of documents, which will be considered by the fund only if the completeness is observed. The main document for obtaining a scholarship is a completed standard application form. It can be obtained upon request by mail or downloaded from the site.

The next archival piece of paper is a bank form. It must confirm that you cannot pay for university education on your own. For a non-working student, it can be replaced by parental income proof certificates, and if you are already employed, an income proof certificate is issued by your employer.

If you a foreign student, you will also need a high school diploma and its certified copy in English, a transcript (if you have one), test results (for example, TOEFL) and recommendations. Some organizations require essay writing on various topics such as “Why do I want to get an education?”, “My goals in life”, “Plans for a future career”, etc. A question may be asked about your favorite book or about the person who has influenced you the most in your life. Typically, the purpose of such questions is to find out what kind of person you are, what you want from life, what area you want to make a career in, and why, etc. It is also important how you express your thoughts and how convincing they are.

It should be noted that some foundations and organizations that offer scholarships to students require a fee for the application you must submit to participate in the program. The price of this document can range from $25 to $45. So, before you send an application, find out if you need to pay for it.

The administration of educational institutions usually tries to observe the principle of social justice. Also, if you were denied a scholarship in the first year of study, then it may be given in one of the following years. If you have already been given a scholarship in some fund, they may not be given it again. In any case, each college or university has its own “policy” for granting scholarships to international students. Therefore, first of all, when choosing a US college or university, study in detail its “financial assistance to foreign students” section and find the most suitable option.

Many colleges give scholarships to foreigners only on condition of excellent academic performance. Your other merits may also be taken into account: academic and other awards, thanks, achievements in music or sports, social activities. An important role in obtaining a scholarship is played by the results of such tests as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and SAT.

In any case, you need to ask for scholarships of various types and apply to as many organizations as possible.

Chances of getting student financial aid

In general, financial aid is provided to those entering the Graduate Level, especially in the fields of engineering, computer and natural sciences. Private firms and US government agencies are interested in research being done in these areas and are providing significant funding to a university or faculty to carry out such research. These funds are provided to the best candidates in the form of a Research Assistantship or Fellowship. It is also necessary to know that in America 40% of Ph.D. in the field of technical and computer sciences are assigned to foreign students. Significantly fewer opportunities are available in the humanities and social sciences: only some graduate students get the opportunity to work as teaching assistants, which requires fluency in English.

Study programs for students (Undergraduate Level) do not have such a narrow specialization and usually do not include research. Therefore, there is less opportunity to receive financial assistance from universities or private foundations. Usually, small private (Liberal Arts) colleges can provide financial assistance to foreign students. Colleges accept students and provide financial aid not only on the basis of the level of knowledge but also depending on other abilities (in music, sports, etc.).

US funds

Each of the foundations specializes in one area – for example, the humanities or natural sciences. However, the number of funds and the scholarships they provide varies for different specialties. For example, in America, there are a lot of foundations for architecture, art, aviation, biology, chemistry, engineering, but they either have very few scholarships (1-4 per year), or they are intended only for US residents. There are many funds for medicine – 20 organizations allocate money for students of bachelor’s programs alone – but it is extremely difficult for a foreigner to enter this specialty. But marketing and business are among the most popular specialties: there are a lot of people who want to study in them and pay money for this, so only nine foundations provide support in these areas at the undergraduate level. Very few scholarships are available to undergraduate or graduate students in finance, accounting, economics (only two foundations offering one scholarship per year) and law (four foundations, three of which are US residents only).

If you want to study business, contact the APICS Education and Research Foundation. It offers up to 164 scholarships per year ranging from $100 to $1,700. Scholarships are awarded to students in two- and four-year college and university programs. The applicant for such a scholarship must submit a written work on a topic from the field of marketing. You also need to fill out an application form and attend the competition, the date and place of which will be notified to you.

The IMA Foundation specializes in this same area (business), providing 20 scholarships ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 for freshmen who are going to pursue a career in financial management and accounting. The applicant must be a student of a four-year program and have strong leadership abilities. It is required to send a resume, fill out a questionnaire, write an essay and submit recommendations.

Senior students (3-4 courses) and graduate students specializing in accounting are ready to help the Robert Kaufman Memorial Educational Foundation. It awards 25-30 scholarships each year, each ranging from $250 to $3,000. But if you are distinguished by special knowledge and abilities, then perhaps you will be treated with more attention and given more money for your studies. Requirements: fill out the questionnaire, attach a bank form, recommendations, test results and a clean envelope with a stamp for the answer.

Funds are very common in the field of communications. For example, the “Society for Technical Communications” offers 14 fellowships of $2,500 each to those who study communications and computers. Seven of them are for graduate students or candidates working on a degree in communications. The other seven are for 2nd-4th year students majoring in technical communications. All candidates must complete at least one year of study. Requirements: application form, recommendations, translation of documents into English.

A very generous foundation is the Rotary Foundation. It provides 150-200 scholarships per year. The size of each ranges from $7,000 to $17,000. The applicant must complete two courses at the university or study the language intensively for a year. Applications can be submitted through local representatives of the Rotary Club. Requirements: questionnaire, CV, essay, interview, recommendations, translation of documents. Applications are accepted throughout the year.

Journalism is one of the most popular areas, so not many funds work in this area. One of them is the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which annually offers 21 scholarships ranging from $500 to $2,000 to students who study mass communications, television and related fields. You need to submit a cassette with your video film to the competition. The academy awards three places in categories: comedy, drama, music programs, documentary, news, sports, animation, etc. Requirements: application form, personal presence at the competition.

The Scientific Research Society Sigma XI Foundation specializes in biology, engineering technology, agriculture, medicine, meteorology, mathematics and other natural sciences. It provides undergraduate and graduate students of two- and four-year programs as much as 850 -900 scholarships, but each is only $100-$1,000. Requirements are limited to filling out a questionnaire and providing recommendations.

The Deloitte & Touche Foundation, an international consulting firm, provides about 10 scholarships per year to graduate students who have written their term papers and PhD dissertations on accounting topics. The candidate must study at an American university and be recommended by faculty. Requirements: questionnaire, recommendations, test results, translation of documents.

The Population Council has several financial aid programs for students of economics and social studies. One of the Council’s programs is aimed at graduate students who want to continue their studies and conduct research at an American university. Preference is given to candidates from developing countries who have an agreement with a firm in their home country and must return home upon graduation. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 is required to pass the competition. It is necessary to submit an application letter and a plan for your study, fill out a questionnaire, send recommendations and a transcript.

Another program of this organization is designed for the “predoctoral level”. The applicant for the scholarship must complete coursework to obtain a master’s degree in social studies. Financial assistance is paid for the period of writing the dissertation. The requirements are the same.

Numerous foundations sponsor graduate or undergraduate students who study pedagogy, child and youth education and conduct research in this area. In particular, the Grant Foundation can help you if you study the developmental and behavioral processes of children, adolescents and young people, the impact of the social environment on them and methods for preventing problems in their behavior. Along with the questionnaire, you must submit a cover letter explaining how and why you work in a particular area. This should be accompanied by a description of the project you are about to undertake. Grants are issued only to those who graduated from the university, there can be up to 35 of them per year. Grant size ranges from $100,000 to $500,000. There are no deadlines for submitting documents.

As noted above, medical funds help only residents of the United States and Canada (and in some cases even specific states), members of certain groups, organizations (fellowships). Only the American Heart Association, which provides a grant of $25,000-$30,000 for research in its core area, undertakes to help foreigners. The grant is issued for two years, it can be extended for another year. For any questions, please contact the association.

What to do

First of all, you will need information about where to go. To learn more about this and other programs, you need to personally visit the office of the organization you are interested in or surf the Internet. The websites of many educational institutions have special sections “Financial aid for international students or Scholarships”. If you have any questions as you read, write them down so you can email them to university representatives later.

The main thing is to prepare in advance. Don’t put off applying for financial aid until you’re accepted to university. It makes sense to ask for financial aid forms along with the application forms so that if you are accepted, you do not have to worry about where to get the money.

If you feel that nothing is working, no university is responding to your pleas for “financial help”, then go the other way. Do not be afraid to look for information in a variety of sources. Contact the American Education Center, call the embassy. I know a girl who accidentally met a professor of higher education where she wanted to study, and … convinced him of how talented she was. As a result, she was given a scholarship for four years of study. You can even contact university professors on the Internet. Write letters to them, tell them why you need to learn from them and get an education in the desired field. Perhaps this will help you.

Category: General Information

Tags: education, finance, loans, money, scholarship