8 US universities with the best financial aid for int’l students

financial aid for students
Indian bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan (pictured on the left) and Australia Chancellor of La Trobe University, Australian John Brumby (pictured on the right) pose for pictures as Indian female PhD research student Gopika Kottantharayil Bhasi (pictured in the centre) receives her scholarship. Source: AFP

The US continues to be a highly sought-after destination for international students due to its renowned higher education system, diverse academic offerings, and abundant personal and professional growth opportunities. 

Despite the lack of financial aid for students, numbers continue to rise. 

In the 2021/2022 academic year, 948,519 international students studied in the US. 

It’s not surprising, considering that US unis are well known for their quality education and research opportunities. 

Many of these institutions, such as Harvard University and Yale University, consistently rank among the top globally. The emphasis on innovation, critical thinking, and research is a major draw for students seeking a world-class education.

The country is home to a diverse and inclusive environment.

International students are exposed to many cultures, perspectives, and ideas, encouraging cross-cultural understanding and global connections. There are around 350 different languages spoken in the US, making it one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world.

This multicultural exposure enhances their interpersonal skills and prepares them for a globalised workforce.

Academics aside, international students will find an exciting life. 

The bustling cities, entertainment options, and rich cultural scene provide an experience like no other. 

Studying in the US is also an excellent way for international students to improve their English language proficiency and enhance employability on a global scale.  

Scholarships and funding opportunities, while limited, still exist — making education in the US feasible for many talented students. 

Additionally, some students are drawn by the US’s leadership in various industries like technology, business, and arts, offering the potential for remarkable career prospects.

Still, many put their “American Dream” on hold due to financial constraints. 

Why studying in the US is expensive for many international students?

High tuition fees, living costs, and limited access to scholarships make it difficult for many international students to afford to study at US universities. 

An international student studying in the US spends an average of US$35,000 yearly on tuition fees and living expenses.

Tuition fees for international students are often significantly higher than those for in-state students.

The rising cost of living in major cities where prestigious universities are located adds to the financial burden. The estimated living cost for the US is around $10,000 to $18,000 per year, which weighs heavily on the families of international students. 

While some unis offer scholarships and financial aid, these opportunities are limited and highly competitive, leaving many students without support.

The restrictions on international student’s ability to work during their studies also contribute to the financial strain. US visa regulations typically limit work options for international students, often allowing only on-campus employment with restricted hours. 

The US visa allows you to work on-campus up to 20 hours a week during your semester and 40 hours a week during breaks. This makes it challenging to cover your educational expenses and living costs through part-time jobs.

As a result, many international students are not able to fulfil their dream of studying abroad in the US. The high costs result in only those from more privileged backgrounds being able to afford to study in the US. 

financial aid for students

Wesleyan University offers a need-blind admission policy to all aspiring students. Source: AFP

8 US universities offering the best financial aid for students

1. Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University aims for diversity, inclusion, and education for all. This is seen through its financial aid for students from all around the world. 

Recognising the value of a diverse student body, Wesleyan offers a need-blind admission policy to international applicants.

The financial aid programme covers tuition, boarding and other essential costs, allowing international students to focus on academics and extracurricular activities without financial woes.

The uni is known to be one of the best institutions offering the maximum amount of financial aid for students. Wesleyan offers around US$75,536 in financial aid to around 92 students.

financial aid for students

Want to study at Duke University like Tim Cook? With the university’s financial aid for students, now you can. Source: AFP

2. Duke University

Located in North Carolina, Duke University is a prestigious institution renowned for its academic excellence and vibrant campus culture.

Founded in 1838, Duke has consistently ranked among the top universities globally and is recognised for its rigorous academic programs, cutting-edge research, and commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive community. 

One of Duke’s notable features is its emphasis on providing financial aid for students, ensuring that education remains accessible to individuals from across the globe. 

Duke’s financial aid services for international students are designed to alleviate the financial burdens that may limit students from pursuing their academic goals. 

The uni provides around US$72,325 in financial aid, covering tuition and boarding. 

Duke aims to create a diverse and inclusive community through need-based aid by attracting students from various backgrounds and experiences. 

International applicants are considered for admission without regard to their financial needs through a need-blind admission process, ensuring that the uni’s admission decisions are based solely on academic merit and potential. 

3. Harvard University

Harvard University is an iconic institution renowned for its academic excellence, groundbreaking research, and diverse student body. 

Established in 1636, Harvard is one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Its campus hosts a wide array of faculties, schools, and research centres, covering disciplines from arts and sciences to law, business, and medicine. 

With a commitment to fostering intellectual growth and societal impact, Harvard has a reputation for producing influential leaders, scholars, and innovators who have shaped various fields.

It supports international students through its financial aid services. 

The uni’s financial aid packages for international students are need-based and encompass various components, such as tuition, living expenses, and health insurance. 

These aid offerings are designed to ease the financial burden on students and enable them to focus on their academic pursuits without undue financial stress. 

Since 2005, nearly US$2.9 billion in financial aid has been awarded to Harvard College students, allowing talented students from all backgrounds to complete their undergraduate studies. 

Families with annual incomes of US$85,000 or less are not required to contribute any money towards the cost of a Harvard education. 

financial aid for students

Study at Yale University like Meryl Streep with the help of the university’s financial aid offerings. Source: AFP

4. Yale University

Located in Connecticut, Yale University offers need-based financial aid to international students and several merit-based scholarships. 

International students at Yale can apply for need-based financial aid on the same basis as domestic students. Here, financial aid is offered to all students regardless of their citizenship.

The uni’s need-blind admission policy guarantees that an applicant’s financial circumstances do not affect the admission decision.

Yale offers financial aid to its students based on their demonstrated financial need.  

The average need-based scholarship for the 2022 to 2023 academic year was US$60,403.

Families with a total gross income of less than US$75,000 are not expected to contribute financially to their child’s education at Yale. 

This financial aid package relieves students of financial burden by covering tuition, boarding, and other expenses.

Yale’s financial aid packages for international students are designed to create a level playing field, allowing students from diverse backgrounds to pursue their educational aspirations. 

financial aid for students

Sigourney Weaver graduated from Stanford in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Source: AFP

5. Stanford University

Situated in sunny California, Stanford University is one of the best universities in the world. 

Every year, many students seek to study at Stanford University. 

Due to the high tuition fees, however, this isn’t always possible. Stanford’s student budget breakdown for the 2019-2020 academic year showed that tuition costs around US$52,857 per year, while room and board cost US$16,433 per year. 

Thankfully, this uni has several financial aid for students keen on furthering their studies at Stanford. 

One such scholarship is the Stanford Africa MBA Fellowship and the Stanford USA MBA Fellowship, which provides full tuition and living expenses to selected students.

Stanford is actually considered one of the best universities in the US for international students seeking scholarships in the field of business.

6. Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College is a prestigious Ivy League institution that is highly sought after by many international students every year.

The institution prides itself on fostering a close-knit, collaborative community that values academic excellence and personal growth.

The college offers various undergraduate and graduate programmes across various disciplines, providing students with opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research, experiential learning, and extracurricular activities.

Dartmouth stands out for its commitment to providing accessible education through its financial aid programme.

Dartmouth is a need-blind institution, meaning that the decisions on admissions are made without considering an applicant’s financial circumstances.

The college is known for its need-based financial aid policies that aim to make education affordable for all admitted students.

Dartmouth strives to alleviate the financial burden international students face through a combination of grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, and low-interest loans.

financial aid for students

Haverford Colleger provides numerous resources for its international students in need of financial support. Source: AFP

7. Haverford College

Haverford College exemplifies its commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive educational environment through its comprehensive financial aid programmes tailored for international students. th

Recognising the global nature of modern education, the college has taken significant strides to ensure that financial barriers do not stop students from pursuing their education. 

International students from all around the world can apply for need-based financial aid. This includes a combination of grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities. 

The college offers one of the maximum amounts of financial aid, which amounts to US$76,600.

Haverford College also provides a range of resources to support its international students’ academic and personal growth. 

8. Amherst College

Amherst College offers financial aid for international and domestic students. 

This commitment is exemplified in its comprehensive financial aid services tailored for international students, ensuring that individuals worldwide have access to a top-tier education.

Recognising the financial challenges that international students face, Amherst College has established a financial aid programme to support their educational pursuits. 

The financial aid services are designed to make education affordable and accessible to all students.

International students applying to Amherst are automatically considered for need-based financial aid. 

The college’s need-blind admission policy means that applicants’ financial circumstances do not influence the admission decision. 

Amherst’s financial aid packages for international students include grants, scholarships, and work-study opportunities amounting to around US$71,655.