The policies for student financial aid vary from school to school. Unfortunately, when it is available, it is quite limited for international students. It is a good idea to review each institution's policy carefully and gather the necessary documentation early in the application process.
If you are admitted to an institution, you will be asked to submit documentation of your family's financial resources to help schools determine how much aid you will need. Students will typically be asked to submit the institution's student financial aid form. In addition, some institutions may require the Foreign Student's Financial Aid Form. This is provided by the college and is administered by the College Scholarship Service of the College Board. A bank statement indicating the family's financial resources is also required.
Several U.S. states have begun to offer tuition waivers to international students enrolled in state institutions in return for some type of educational contribution to the citizens of that state. If you are applying to public institutions, you may want to ask if this type of assistance is available when gathering financial aid information. Do keep in mind that most tuition waivers offered through state colleges and universities are restricted to graduate students.
Employment opportunities for international students are limited, and money earned from these part-time jobs will not be sufficient to cover your educational expenses; you will likely need to find additional financial aid for college.
F-1 non-immigrant students who are in good academic standing are permitted to work part-time on campus, with permission. Off-campus employment is prohibited until a student has been in F-1 status for a minimum of 12 months. Off-campus employment also requires approval by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. This approval is not easy to get and is dependent on special circumstances.
Although financial aid is hard to come by, international students can gain professional work experience in their field of study while in the U.S. This can take place while you are completing your degree or soon thereafter. The number of hours of training you get will be dependent on the type of visa you hold and other related factors. It is best to discuss this entire matter with the international student adviser as you begin your degree program.
Aid from your country of residence
It is always a good idea to explore all available sources of student aid. This includes investigating the type of funds available through the government of your home country. As you start the college search process, check with your overseas advising center for information on such opportunities.