For your convenience, below are first steps to take for scholarships, financial aid, and college cost planning, as it pertains to international students. They may look like intimidating steps, but the scholarship search engines are pretty quick to use to see if there are any scholarships you would qualify for.


1. Use the following international scholarship search engines to find scholarships you may be eligible for. See and explore the resources at EduPASS.

*Important: when you get to the supplemental essay component with College Zoom, one of your pre-meeting homework assignments will be to use these search tools to locate scholarships with essays. That way, you can bring those essays into your supplemental essay meetings and conveniently get help with them at that time. However, start looking for scholarships now, and you’ll have gotten it out of the way. This is especially recommended if you’ll be in school by the time you start the supplemental essays.

2. RaiseMe is a website that awards micro scholarships to students. Starting with things you have done as early as 9th grade, the colleges you “follow” on RaiseMe will award you micro scholarships for your achievements, which you’ll be paid if you attend their institution.  

Two types of international students are eligible for RaiseMe scholarships. 

  1. International students attending a U.S. school
  2. International students attending a school outside of the U.S. but only if that school appears on this list


Plan for College Costs 

A. Determine How Much College Will Actually Cost Your Family. 

Each college makes available a Net Cost Calculator. “Net” means the price you pay after every eligible discount is applied. Learn how to find and use them here. Generally, the harder the college is to get into, the more international students will need to pay full tuition without any tuition breaks. Merit scholarships are rarely awarded with the odds being better at less selective colleges where the most competitive students are more likely to be among the top applicants in the entire applicant pool.

The Ivy League (and certain top 15 colleges) do not offer merit aid to any students. They only offer need based aid regardless of a student’s residency. However, at these schools that offer need based aid to international students the acceptance rates are exceptionally low since they attract applications from more international students than usual. Further, such generous colleges are need-blind, meaning that students who can pay the full price do not get a leg up in the process.

B. See Which Colleges are Need Blind. 

First, read this article that explains the difference between need aware vs need blind colleges and busts many myths surrounding both policies.

This list shows which colleges are need blind for international applicants. If a school is not listed as need blind, it means they are need aware.

C. Do File the FAFSA and CSS Profiles When the Time Comes

While international students are not eligible for federal aid from the FAFSA, it’s still important to file the FAFSA form. Some colleges may require it in order to determine if you could receive aid directly from the school or from the state where the school is located. The CSS Profile should also be filed for private colleges because they use that form, in addition to the FAFSA to determine whether they will award any internal money to international students.

The FAFSA and CSS Profile.  Even if you feel your income is too high to qualify for need-based aid (which is the case for most international students’ families) most colleges will still require you to file the FAFSA and CSS Profiles before a student will be considered for any merit aid from the university. 

D. Read this article about financial aid: 

Click here to read about the top financial aid tips your family should know

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