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Looking Beyond Your School for Graduate Financial Aid

By Peterson's Staff updated on Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Coming to the United States for a college or graduate education is a dream that can be difficult to fulfill due to the costs involved and the limited amount of graduate financial aid available. But don't give up hope! Financial aid for international students can be hard to find, but it's out there. You just need to be willing to do some research — and perhaps make a few phone calls.

Scholarships are good source of graduate financial aid

The easiest place to start looking for money to pay for your education is through scholarship searches, many of which can be found online. Since scholarships are free money, they are the best way to start chipping away at your tuition bills. But make sure you don't pay to access a scholarship search — there are some scams out there, so you should look for the free online searches.

Look for graduate school financial aid close to home

Another valuable source of educational assistance may be your local or national government. Check with your consulate or education ministry to find out if they sponsor students abroad in exchange for government service afterward. This is not uncommon, particularly for students in science and technology fields.

If you have access to an educational advising center (such as those available worldwide through Education USA), get in touch with the staff there and see if they have any information about financial aid for graduate school or other resources that may be of use to you. In the case of Education USA, their goal is to help you get an education in the United States and they have a lot of valuable information that will help get you there.

You should also look into private businesses, foundations, and religious organizations to see if they offer scholarships or sponsorships for students to study in the U.S. The private sector often harbors many financial opportunities for education for American students and it's probable that there are resources available through organizations in your own country as well.

Global sources for graduate financial aid

There are some big names in the international community that offer scholarships and internships. In most cases, these are available for graduate students only. Also keep in mind that these are generally highly competitive, but if you've got what it takes, then make sure you apply. Some of the biggest sponsors to look into are the United Nations, the Red Cross, and the World Health Organization.

U.S. may offer financial aid for graduate school

The U.S. government sometimes has aid available to students from certain countries but again, this is fairly limited and varies from year to year. The best way to find out about current graduate school financial aid available through the U.S. is to check with your embassy or with the U.S. Department of State.

Paying for graduate school with a Fulbright scholarship is also a possibility, depending on your course of study and of course, your application. These awards, in the form of fellowships and research grants, are only available for graduate education and are meant for students who are interested in promoting global cooperation and understanding. You will need to design and propose a project that fulfills the goals of the Fulbright organization to be considered. The Institute of International Education offers ample information on the Fulbright program, as well as the opportunity to apply online.

Paying for graduate school with loans

If you've exhausted resources for free money and still find yourself short on cash for school, then you may want to look into borrowing money. Private loans for education are available, and generally offer terms that are manageable. specializes in loans for international students. However, this is a U.S.-based company and as a private lender, they will require that your application be co-signed by either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has been in the U.S. for at least two years — and you'll have to considered creditworthy to qualify for a loan.

Of course, loans come with interest rates attached to them and usually have to be paid back. Make sure you check out all your options for money for graduate school and only borrow what you need. You should also check into private lending opportunities within your own country to see if there are loans that offer better terms or are easier to qualify for. Always get complete details from more than one potential lender and choose what's best for you.

Money for graduate school is available

As you can see, there is money available, but you have to be willing to go out and find it. Also remember that you also don't have to choose the most expensive school to get a great education. Consider more than one institution, since some of them may offer more aid.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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