Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Archive

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Financial Aid for Graduates
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American education is a very competitive environment, where there is a battle on for the most talented and promising students – both American and international. American universities are ready to provide financial aid to the best of the best: those with the best application dossier submitted and, which is even more important, those who have correctly chosen a USA university or academic program that best suits their goals.

University scholarships and grants are either merit-based or need-based. It is important for international students to understand that, although students'needs are taken into account, the main factor in selecting scholarship holders are academic achievements and good prospects in the chosen field of study. The competition for each scholarship is high, and international students have to compete with Americans. At the graduate level, the great majority of funding is merit-based and comes in the form of graduate assistantships (research, teaching, or office work) and fellowships.

There are the following main types of financial aid for international students: Scholarships, Fellowships, Graduate, Teaching and Research Assistantships, Tuition Waiver, and Institutionally-Sponsored Loans, although their names in concrete universities can vary considerably. They can provide partial or full funding (that covers all costs).

The factors that affect the awarding of scholarships are: student's academic achievements and potential in the chosen field of study, financial need, present importance of the proposed research projects, interests of certain scholars / teachers and availability of funds for graduate students.

A. Programs funded by the U.S. government; as a rule, are up to two years long, which is usually sufficient for obtaining a master's degree or participating in a year-long non-degree study program.

B. Private American agencies, organizations, commercial and industrial corporations and professional associations often provide financial aid in order to enhance international exchanges.

C. Private sources in your home country interested in hiring you as a specialist after the completion of your study program in the USA.

D. Student's loans for education purposes in your home country or the USA. In this case a non-USA citizen who has no credit history in the USA will need a co-signer - a USA citizen.

A financial aid or scholarship/assistantship application is typically submitted together with the rest of the documents, but the deadline for aid can be earlier than the deadline for regular applications. In this case it is necessary to prepare the whole dossier by an earlier deadline, which is usually in December-February, depending on the university.
In order to apply for university funding, find out which offices / departments provide aid, and request application forms from them. Funds can be managed by the Graduate School, a university department, or decisions can be made jointly. You should study all the funding-related materials carefully, since the financial aid application process can be rather complicated and time-consuming.

When you get an offer of financial aid, evaluate the offer in general, including tuition and fees, scholarship size, funding period, and your responsibilities. If you get more than one offer, it is necessary to weigh up the advantages of each offer from each university and make the best decision. Your choice of university must never be based on the scholarship size, because it is not the scholarship size which determines the quality of educational programs.

- Start the process of application and financial aid search as soon as possible;

- Apply to several universities to increase your chances;

- While choosing a university, pay special attention to financial aid opportunities offered to international students;

- Use all the information sources available – university guides, catalogues, books, Internet resources, conference materials, information from your research advisor, personal contacts with American professors;

- Send clarifying questions about the admission procedure and financial aid to the admissions office / the department of your academic subject / financial aid office;

- All documents must be filled out as fully and accurately as possible;

- Important strengths of an application are: academic achievements, very high TOEFL, GRE or GMAT scores, a remarkable and informative application essay, strong recommendations, leadership potential, personal qualities and interests.

Immigration laws of the USA do not allow international graduate students and their spouses (who are in the U.S. on F student visas) to work off-campus during their studies. On-campus work opportunities are limited as well (20 hours per week during the academic semester, 40 hours/week during school breaks), and there is a competition for open positions, while wages are comparatively low and do not cover the tuition and accommodation costs. Besides, graduate students are often so busy studying that they do not have time for working. An important note here: intended work in the U.S. cannot be declared as a funding source when applying for a visa.

Typically, no. Unless a student receives a particularly large stipend (salary) as part of their assistantship responsibilities international students should expect to cover all costs related to their family members' stay in the U.S.

As a rule, the most important criteria for MBA programs are:

- at least 3-5 years of work experience;

- a strong application essay - or several essays, depending on the university’s requirements;

- informative recommendation letters;

- an effective CV (resume or curriculum vitae)

Besides formal criteria, it is necessary to demonstrate stable career growth, job enrichment, community involvement; to be aware of the curriculum and teaching methods in the chosen university; to choose a specialization within the business administration field, etc.

Need-based financial aid for business programs is rather rare, and in most cases this is a partial funding. As for specific universities, the fullest and the most up-to-date information can be obtained from their financial aid or international offices.

Of course, you should start handling this issue as early as possible, but the "technical" aspect of this procedure depends on the requirements of your potential sources of funding. To apply for some of them, you need to be already enrolled in a program. For example, if you apply for a student's loan, your university may provide you with a Conditional Admission stating that you have been academically admitted to the university but the financial issues have not been solved yet.

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