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How to Pay for College as an International Student in the US

Millions worldwide dream of earning a degree in the US, and it’s easy to see why. There are countless prestigious universities and colleges to choose from. Getting a quality education and improving future prospects are some reasons why international students want to go to school in America.

But paying for college as an international student can be challenging. On average, international students pay $25,000-35,000 per year to attend a public university. Those studying at private institutions can expect to pay up to $75,000 per year! It’s no surprise the hefty investment can stop some from even pursuing higher education in the first place.

The possibility of studying abroad doesn’t have to be far-fetched, though. With careful planning and resourcefulness, you can find ways to cover tuition and living expenses.

Get Better Opportunities with a US College Education

Ready to make your dream of studying in the US a reality? You may wonder how to pay for college as an international student. Here are five ways to afford your education:

  1. Save Money Early

One of the best ways to pay for college as an international student is to start saving money as early as possible. If you’re still in high school, consider setting aside money from any part-time jobs or internships you have. By saving early, you can build a solid financial foundation to fund your education.

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  1. Attend Community College First

Some international students elect to finish general education courses at a community college before attending a four-year institution. This is a smart way to save money because community college classes are much more affordable. To put it into perspective, you can expect to pay as little as $3,500 each year to attend community college. That’s a substantial saving when you compare it to a public college’s sticker price of $35,000 per year! After getting core classes out of the way, you can invest more in your major’s coursework at a university.

  1. Get a Part-Time Job

If you’re in college with time to spare, a part-time job allows you to make extra money. Many international students can work on or off-campus, depending on their visa status. This is a fantastic way to make college more affordable. If you’re not sure what jobs you can or can’t take, get clarification from your school’s international student office.

Besides traditional jobs, look into freelancing and monetizing a skill you’re good at. For example, if you’re a creative person and love making graphics, why not sell your graphic design as a service? You’ll not only make money to pay for college—you’ll also learn valuable skills like customer service, running your own business, and time management, all on your schedule. Unlike a regular job, you get more flexibility and potentially more pay (depending on your skill level).

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  1. Apply for Scholarships and Grants

Did you know there are scholarships and grants available specifically for international students? It’s worth taking the time to research and apply for as many as possible. These awards can cover a significant portion of your tuition and other costs. There are various scholarship types:

  • Need-based
  • Merit-based
  • School-specific
  • Country-based
  • Career-specific
  • Sports-related

In addition to your school and professional organizations, don’t forget to check the following for more scholarships and grant opportunities:

  • Government agencies
  • Private foundations
  • Online databases (try Googling “scholarships for international students” and “grants for international students”)

Pro Tip: As you’re shopping for awards, read the eligibility requirements and follow the application instructions carefully. Each scholarship and grant has unique asks. Maximize your time and increase your chances of winning an award by focusing on the ones you’re qualified for.

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  1. Take Out a Student Loan

If you’ve tried everything else but still need help covering remaining college costs, then consider taking out a student loan. As an international student, you may be able to take out a private student loan through a bank or financial institution. Keep in mind that private student loans generally have higher interest rates than federal student loans. Take time to shop around and compare offers before committing to one.

Study Abroad Without Breaking the Bank

Studying in the US as an international student is a costly endeavor. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it if that’s what you want! There’s a multitude of ways to pay for college. You can complete general education courses at a community college first, apply for financial aid, and pick up a part-time job, to name a few. If these efforts aren’t enough, there’s the option of taking out a student loan. With the right strategies, you can get a stellar education without breaking the bank.

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