International students who aspire to pursue graduate studies in the United States have many possible options to obtain financial aid for their education. Do not be misinformed on the notion that universities in the U.S. do not offer financial aid to graduate international students. The best way to find out is to check out the schools themselves, making sure that you have found out whether the universities you have chosen have programs available that can help fund your graduate studies.
Dig a little deeper – While it is true that graduate school financial aid for international students is smaller compared to those for American students, that does not mean you can only go for that small of a pot. Explore the financial aid opportunities at a variety of schools. You may need to consider attending a different university or spend some time working apart from studying. Apart from school-based aid, you can also look into loan and scholarship opportunities in your home country, in the private sector, and online.
Assistantship programs – Graduate school financial aid also come in form of tuition waivers to students who participate in teaching and research assistantships in the school. These are usually awarded based on academic merit, not financial need, so you will need to prove to the department you have the skills needed. Check with the university whether assistantship programs are available. These programs usually offer limited slots, so apply early if you are interested.
International student exchange programs – Many universities also participate in international student exchange programs, wherein some schools even offer financial aid for participating students. Look into exchange programs through universities in your home country to know more about their exchange programs and any financial aid they may offer.
CPT program – International graduate students may be able to obtain full-time work in the United States through the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) program. While immigration laws allow graduate schools in the U.S. to offer work that qualifies as CPT, only a few schools that have programs for this. The CPT is sort of a paid internship since the jobs are related to your field of study. Students work for up to 40 hours a week and have to juggle classes in between.