Financial aid is when an institution provides a sum of money to its students to help pay for their time at university. It can cover a rage of things including tuition fees, accommodation, travel costs, books and living costs.
Financial aid is similar to scholarships in that it provides funding for students so that they can study at university. However, financial aid will usually be calculated based on a student’s financial circumstances whereas scholarships are usually awarded to students based on their academic achievements or the subjects they are studying.
However, both are great ways for students to be able to apply for help with finances when studying abroad. And this is particularly useful for students looking to study in the US as it is one of the most expensive countries in the world to study in.
Financial aid also differs from loans or grants as students are usually not required to pay back the money.
Most financial aid packages will be calculated when the student is applying to the university and students will often have to provide evidence of their family income and savings in order to prove that they need the support.
Most universities in the US will offer some kind of financial aid, in one form or another, so it is always worth checking out what they offer when you apply.
Domestic students can apply for federal loans through FAFSA or they can apply through their university’s financial aid programmes. International students are not eligible to complete the FAFSA forms, but they are eligible to apply to universities’ financial aid programmes or they can fill out an ISAFA form which many universities use to determine how much financial aid a student is entitled to.
These are some of the universities that offer generous financial aid packages for both domestic and international students:
Harvard University, Massachusetts
Since 2005, Harvard College has awarded almost $2.9 billion in financial aid to its students.
- Families with annual incomes of $85,000 or less are not required to contribute any money towards the cost of a Harvard education
- Students usually pay an average of $13,000 per year towards their degree, once they have received their financial aid
- International students can receive the same amount of financial aid as students from the US.
To apply for financial aid you need to submit a CSS Profile and an IDOC Packet.
Yale University, Connecticut
- Families with a total gross income of less than $75,000 are not expected to contribute financially to their child’s education at Yale
- The average need-based scholarship for the 2021-22 academic year was $60,820
- On average, students pay approximately $13,000 towards their degree
- Financial aid is offered to students regardless of their citizenship.
The university provides detailed information and resources on affordability through its Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid.
Princeton University, New Jersey
- The average grant varies based on the gross family income
- For example, for families with incomes of less than $65,000, the average grant is $77,240, covering full tuition, room and board
- As the income bracket increases, the average grant amount adjusts accordingly, with higher-income families receiving a smaller percentage of aid
- About 62 per cent of undergraduates receive financial aid.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers financial aid for undergraduate and postgraduate students.
- Students with a family income under $140,000 are able to apply for financial aid from the university
- The university aims to offer financial aid to cover the full price of an MIT education.
For detailed information, visit the MIT Student Financial Services (SFS) website.
Dartmouth College, New Hampshire
Dartmouth College has no income cut-off point when calculating financial aid for prospective students.
- Families with a total annual income below $65,000 will have a zero-parent contribution expectation
- Additionally, starting with the class of 2026, families making under $125,000 will receive scholarships covering at least the cost of tuition
- Dartmouth College provides scholarships to 50 per cent of its students
- Dartmouth’s financial aid also extends to study-abroad programmes, with the same tuition and expected family contribution as an on-campus term.
Students can use the net price calculator to estimate the cost of attending Dartmouth.
Amherst College, Massachusetts
Amherst College offers financial aid for international and domestic students.
- The college provides expanded eligibility for application fee waivers, including options for all first-generation applicants and applicants from families with household incomes below $65,000.
Students can use the financial aid calculators to input their financial information to get an idea of what their financial aid award may look like.
Carleton College, Minnesota
- The average financial aid package awarded in 2022 was $53,000 per year
- Some 52 per cent of students received need-based grants and scholarships in 2022
- Financial aid covers most student expenses, including tuition, housing, food, student activity fee and other college-related costs
- Students are responsible for expenses such as books, stationery, kitchen utensils, personal spending and travel.
Rice University, Texas
- The average financial aid package in 2023 was $57,000
- The average cost of attending Rice University per year is $78,278 (tuition of $57,210, mandatory administration fees of $918, living expenses totalling $15,900, books estimated at $1,400, and personal expenses amounting to $2,850)
- Health insurance coverage is also mandatory for all enrolled students and international students will also be charged $395 for Undergraduate International Orientation.
University of Miami, Florida
The University of Miami calculates financial aid individually for each student based on their household financial situation.
- The average financial aid package is $46,000 per year
- Students can estimate their costs with the net price calculator
- The university aims to provide financial aid to all international students that are accepted to the university.
The Office of Undergraduate Financial Assistance and Employment at the University of Miami can supply further information and aid on financial matters.
Washington and Lee University, Virginia
Washington and Lee University works to meet 100 per cent of every admitted student’s proven financial need through grants, scholarships and campus work opportunities, so students don’t need to apply for student loans.
- The average financial aid award in 2022 was $59,949
- Estimated cost of attendance for the 2022-23 academic year, without taking financial aid into account, totals $82,990.
To get a clearer picture of college expenses, local students can use the MyinTuition cost calculator or the student net price calculator while international students can use the International Estimate calculator.
All of these figures are based on each university website as of July 2023 and may be subject to change.