Archive for the ‘financial aid’ Category

US application – the platforms

The Common Application gives you the opportunity to apply to many schools and saves you a lot of time.

CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE gives you the opportunity to give information about your finances in order to apply for financial aid.

These might be the only platforms you need if you have been taking classes with me, but the best strategy is to visit the website of each college from your list, look for admission / application information for UNDERGRADUATES and INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS, as well as financial aid sections. Thus you will be 100% sure what THESE colleges want.

You could create accounts and take a look, so that you can ask relevant questions. I’ll be posting more info soon.


(USA) Financial aid : CSS Financial aid profile and other instruments

Not all schools use the same financial aid documents, so you should check with every school – what type of forms they require from INTERNATIONAL students. Be careful as often financial aid documents and application documents for the same academic year might have different years in their title. For example, on your college application you might see 2010-2011, while on the financial aid document, you might see 2011-2012.

You might wish to create a table where you write down what every school requires.

You might find SOME  instructions from previous years helpful – see the ‘financial aid’ category in this blog. However, I have not published information about all instruments and documents.


Time to shortlist US colleges

It is high time you started short-listing colleges. Here is what I would do if I were you:

– reread the articles about the colleges you liked when you first read the college guide and eliminate some of the colleges you don’t like

– visit college websites and eliminate the schools you don’t really like

– find out about financial aid opportunities and eliminate the colleges which do not offer financial aid to international students or the ones that offer inadequate financial aid.

You could find out about the financial aid from their websites (do not look at the info in the college guide as it was meant for Americans), write to admissions offices and financial aid offices. You could also check the following list of colleges offering financial aid to international stuents: Schools with Financial Aid for International Undergraduate Students.

You could ask me anytime if in doubt … about anything 🙂 Make sure you also read these websites:

Paying for School: Financial Aid

Financial Aid for Undergraduate International Students

International financial aid blog

US financial aid documents

You should carefully check about documents with EVERY college.

Some of them accept standard Collegeboard forms like the International Student Financial Aid Application , International Student Certification of Finances , and the Business/Farm supplement (if your parents have their own business). Be careful with these! If you are applying this season to start school in 2010, you are using the 2009-10 Common Application Form, BUT the Collegeboard financial aid forms should be for 2010-11!!!

If your parents are divorced /never married, some colleges might also require the Noncustodial Profile. As that might be a problem for some of you, we’ll have to discuss it later. Here is a form you could use to prepare the information.

However, some colleges might require THEIR OWN FORMS. These might be quite similar to the Collegeboard forms.

You should also provide other documents to verify what you have declared in the forms – statements from employers, showing your parents’ salaries, etc. Please, find more information about these in older entries in the “financial aid” category in this blog. Make sure you prepare them on time! Some documents might need translation into English!

Financial need and US colleges

Most of the top US colleges are so rich that they can accept applicants who cannot pay a single dollar for their education, room, board, health insurance or plane ticket. Many of them have a “need-blind’ admission policy, i.e. they make admissions decisions without looking at any information about an applicant’s financial situation.

Need-blind colleges will accept you if you are an eligible applicant without money, but that does not necessarily mean they will meet your full financial need. Some will, and some won’t. Need-blind admission and meeting your full financial need are not the same thing. Sometimes they go together, and sometimes they don’t.

There is another type of colleges, which define themselves as “need-aware” or “need-conscious”. Their admissions officers take into consideration your financial situation when making admissions decisions. Thus you might be an eligible applicant and get rejected for lack of money.

However, you can get a really generous financial-aid package from a need-aware college. How come? Well, money matters more for applicants who are eligible but not among the best. It works inevitably for applicants who are at the bottom of the list of eligible ones. If you are not quite special AND you don’t have money, you’ll lose your place to an equally not special student who has the money.

If you are a very strong applicant, schools will be competing for you, and they might offer you scholarship even if you don’t need it. It’s called “merit scholarship”. (That does not mean you have to be rich to get a merit scholarship. It just means that it is given NOT because you need it, but ONLY because you deserve it.)

I don’t think you should care sooooo much about your financial situation and college admission policies. If you are really good, you’ll be admitted and offered generous financial aid. If you want colleges to compete for a poor kid like you, rather that you compete for them, focus on becoming a strong applicant, rather than think whether it’s a good idea to tell colleges that you can contribute $1-5,000 you don’t actually have.

Applying to college

There is no strict algorithm applicable to every school. You should always visit the school’s website and read the specific requirements. Although many schools make use of common tools like The Common Application (USA) or UCAS (UK), they don’t necessarily have the same application process, asking for exactly the same documents. Often they share a set of generic documents AND require additional ones which vary from school to school. For example, the Common Application is used by over 150 US schools, but some of them require filling out additional forms and writing additional essays; they usually call these “supplements”. Many schools accept the International Student Financial Aid Application and International Student Certification of Finances, but some of them don’t. They have their own forms; some of these look like the common ones, and they might differ only in the presence of the college’s logo, but still they are different. You should expect the same variation in rules in all other countries too.

The good news is you could learn how to work with applications in general. Here are the steps:

– Choose your colleges

– Visit their websites

– Find the relevant instructions:

– if applying to a college in the EU, you are a EU citizen, not “international”
– if applying to a college outside EU, you are “international”
– if you have never studied at a college / university or you have but have not earned a degree (graduated from it and got a diploma), you are applying for “undergraduate” school

– If you plan to apply for financial aid, you should first make sure you are eligible – check if they offer financial aid to international students; you should be careful with EU schools – many of them offer financial aid only to citizens or permanent residents of certain countries, and sometimes the aid is not offered directly by the college but by some external organization.

US Financial docs: own business

If one of your parents is self-employed or owns a business or a farm, you’ll need to submit a Business/Farm Supplement. You’ll definitely need the help of an accountant. Good luck 🙂