Financial Aid


Poza 3.10Most of the Romanian students in the U.S. have access to some form of financial aid from the universities they are attending, be it partial of full. Some FEAC advisees are studying in the U.S. paying nothing out of over $60,000 annual costs (and even getting pocket money from the college), some are covering their living expenses, some even contribute to their tuition, depending on the scholarships they attracted from the universities as well as on their families’ etc. Free rides, when the U.S. universities cover all tuition and living costs, are available for top applicants with compelling applications.

The financial aid package commonly includes scholarship and campus employment, and possibly a loan. Here are the most commonly available types of financial aid for international students who want to study in the United States:

• Merit-based aid
• Need-based aid
• Sports scholarships
• Athletic associations
• Campus jobs

Merit and need based aid
Merit-based scholarships are granted in recognition of outstanding academic achievements, as well as of special extracurricular talents, etc. with no regard to the student’s financial circumstances and financial need. Presidential or Dean’s scholarships are good examples. At some colleges, applicants are automatically considered for merit scholarships; at other institutions, a separate application is required.

Need-based scholarships are awards made by colleges or universities based on the student’s demonstrated need by filling out a financial aid application with full financial information, including the student’s parents’ income statements for the last and current year or other financial documents. The amount of aid varies from one institution to another and few institutions can offer students full financial aid packages. Note: in our experience, merit-based scholarships have proved significantly more productive to Romanian applicants than need-based ones.

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Need-blind scholarships are offered by colleges that do not consider an applicant’s financial situation when deciding on admissions. Only a limited number of colleges have this financial aid policy. The others are need-aware, meaning the admissions decision is influenced by the student’s need for financial aid and to the way it compares to the school’s available funds.

An even more limited number of universities are need-blind and full-need for international students. This means that not only do they not take financial need into account when deciding on admissions, they also meet the full demonstrated need of accepted students. Financial need is usually documented through the family’s financial/income statements for the previous one or two years. This is one scenario in which high financial need does not negatively affect the decision made on the application.
An important note is that need-blind and/or full need school are not the only schools where international students may benefit from generous financial resources.
The following schools are currently need-blind and full-need for international students:
•    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
•    Harvard University
•    Princeton University
•    Yale University
•    Dartmouth College
•    Amherst College
Williams College and Lawrence University are also need-blind, to the extent that financial resources allow.

Sports scholarships
International student athletes have competed for U.S. colleges and universities for more than 100 years, and their number on U.S. campuses has steadily increased in recent years, with many coaches actively recruiting them. This is where sports scholarships come in.

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Poza 3.11Sports scholarships are awarded to students who have distinguished themselves in a particular sport. If you are a gifted student athlete, you may choose to play for the college team as a means of paying for your education. Still, you must meet the university entrance requirements, and then continue to obtain satisfactory grades in order to receive and maintain your scholarship.

To be considered for a sports scholarship, contact coaches at the universities on your list and build a connection with them so that they support your admissions when you send in your application. Depending on your sport, you will probably need to send them detailed information on your performances and rankings, a tape of you playing etc. Make sure you start communicating with coaches as early as possible so there is time for the process to run smoothly!



 

Athletic Associations
Poza 3.12Athletic associations govern college sports and set rules regarding scholarships and athletic recruitment. There are a number of associations that colleges or universities may join and the main ones are: NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA Read more...


•    National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hyperlink http://www.ncaa.org/: there are over 900 member universities and 250+ provisional members classified within three NCAA divisions (Division I being the most competitive). Athletic standards are high and the level of competition is intense. Only students with the very highest standard of ability are usually recruited;
•    National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) hyperlink http://www.naia.org/: there are around 350, mostly smaller colleges in the NAIA, organised by districts. The level of athletic ability is still high, although the standard is not generally as high as for NCAA teams;
•    National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) hyperlink http://www.njcaa.org/: member colleges are accredited two-year institutions. The NJCAA is also comprised of three divisions, with some scholarships offered only at the Division I and II levels.

Campus jobs
Poza 3.13Campus employment is often part of the financial aid package offered by U.S. universities. According to U.S. immigration regulations, international students are allowed to work part-time (max. 20 hours per week) when school is in session and 40 hours per week during vacations. During their first year of study, international students may work only on campus.

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A campus job will usually earn you $2,500-3,000 per year, depending on the number of hours per week and type of activity. This amount allows you to pay for some personal expenses, like books and clothing. Campus employment won’t cover your major expenses, such as tuition or room and board.

Campus jobs are commonly offered in the university bookstore, library, cafeteria, sports facilities, and administrative offices. However, some students get jobs as research assistants working with one or more of their professors or become tutors in the writing, math, and computer centers on campus which offer free support to students. It all depends on how knowledgeable and reliable the student is and how well they convey this to their professors.

Finding schools which offer financial aid

Before starting the school selection process, it is important to take note of a number of facts regarding financial aid:

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•    Not all U.S. colleges award financial aid to international students;
•    Financial aid for international undergraduates tends to be less common at public colleges and at colleges that offer professional courses such as business administration and health professions. More financial aid is generally available from private colleges, especially liberal arts colleges;
•    Financial assistance is awarded throughout the academic year; however, students who apply for admission in the fall term will have more chances of securing financial aid than those who apply for the winter or spring terms;
•    More aid is available for freshman students than for transfer students;
•    With almost 5,000 universities in the USA, there is great variety of educational patterns. Check the university websites for financial aid information for international students! Some colleges provide financial assistance to citizens of specific countries; for instance Illinois Institute of Technology offers a scholarship specifically for Romanian students;
•    As an international student, you need to fill out the International Student Financial Aid Application generally available on the website of the college you are applying to. You need to answer all questions that apply to you and your family: personal information, financial information, asset information, expenses, expected support for educational expenses etc. International students do not fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is meant for U.S. citizens or other eligible citizens.

Attend our face-to-face and online admissions training sessions in order to learn how to research the financial aid available for international students. Careful advance research and realistic expectations are likely to result in success.

My huge merit scholarship and extra financial aid make attending school in the USA almost for free, but I still work for extra money. My first 2 years, I used to write a blog about my campus activities for prospective students, to convince them to apply to University of Richmond. Now I replaced that with working as a Phonathon Caller, where I update alumni about campus life and raise donations for the University.  I am also a teaching assistant for organic chemistry labs, and peer tutor for courses in chemistry, math, economics and environmental studies.
Ana Neferu, University of Richmond, VA, class of 2013

Financial Aid Forms
Many universities use the College Board CSS Profile in order to assess students’ financial need. Read more...


Since not all U.S. universities accept the CSS Profile, though, always check on the university website to see the forms they require. Some may also require supplemental information in addition to the Profile for non-custodial parents or business owners. Others may use their own form.

For each university accepting the online CSS Profile for international students, it is a good idea to print the finished application out and mail it in with supporting documents to the university.

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