Numerous students around the world wish to pursue higher education at some prestigious international university. Many people dream of getting admission to a world-class university situated abroad. Getting the chance of graduating from any such well-known and globally respected institution is like a dream come true for international students across the world.

Why international students should know all about financial aid offices

However, not everyone can make this happen. The reasons can vary from person to person. Still, the most common reason happens to be the high cost of education and lifestyle in countries like America. Living in such countries is not at all cost-efficient and for International students, it becomes more difficult to handle everything as they are away from their homes. They have to manage their expenses and everything else in the amount given to them monthly or weekly by their parents and keep the track of the budget.

Other than that, colleges with excellent faculty and facilities tend to charge a huge amount of money which is quite obvious considering the quality of education they provide. But the college’s sticker price leaves the students as well as parents shocked. In such cases, financial aid provided to the students by the university is what comes to their rescue.

How do financial aid offices work?

Financial Aid Offices offer international students resources to overcome the barrier of budget. These offices coordinate between students and universities to fill the gap and ensure smooth experiences for students. When it comes to studying abroad, most students take a step back only because the finances become a hurdle in the path.

The government offices for financial aid are located in most states and also have a tie-up with many universities you wish to perceive your education in. Every university has its own office and website to serve for quick reference. Students are usually allotted a counselor who stays with them as a guide throughout the whole process till the time they finally get that acceptance letter from the university of their choice. Not all universities allow the offer to study abroad. Make sure you know the details beforehand.

What does financial aid exactly mean?

College financial aid means the amount of money a college gives to its students for covering higher education expenses such as tuition fees, books, boarding, transportation, etc. This can be given through scholarships, grants, or federal or private loans.

These financial aids are either given by the government or by private institutions and at times, even by individuals. And all of them follow different schemes and different procedures for determining the recipients of the aid.

These are generally of two types, they are need-based financial aids and merit-based scholarships. Some universities offer full whereas some of them offer partial scholarships. Some government grants can directly be transferred to the college and in return, the college provides the students with different allowances covering academic and other necessities like food, accommodation, transport facilities, etc.

There are various forms of financial aid, such as:

  • Loans: Amount of money granted by an institution or organization, which you need to pay back within the given time limit. These pays may have an interest which you should go through before confirming the institution.
  • Grants: These are offered by private institutions or the state to those students who perform exceptionally well, and are economically weaker. Usually, this amount does not need to be repaid. Anybody who needs financial help and performs well on some platform to catch the eye of the state is eligible for a grant. Unlike loans, there is no interest nor duration to return the pay when you are done with your education.
  • Work-Study: With this option, you are provided with a part-time job, that helps you guarantee minimum wages for yourself. This helps you suffice your financial needs up to a certain extent. The wages differ according to the position you choose to work, and the workload.

Reasons why you should know about financial aid offices

If you are an international student or someone planning to apply to universities and colleges abroad, you will likely apply for financial aid. However, applying for scholarships and aid without knowing everything that you should be is not a smart way to go about it.

Doing your research is an extremely important part of the application process, especially for international students. When you know the intricacies of how the financial aid office of a particular institute works, it helps you plan accordingly and take the necessary steps.

There are many things that you gain an advantage on if you know all about the financial aid office. Here we present some of those reasons to you:

  1. Plan the application

As already mentioned, if you are looking to apply to colleges and universities abroad, conducting research is going to be one of the most important parts of your process. As a student, you would need a comprehensive plan, with everything detailed about which school or university you wish to join, the course that you are interested in, and several other elements. A good idea would be to talk to the university representative or student help, even before the admission process is about to initiate. Many times, the admission procedure is initiated much before the financial aid is brought to the table. This might take you to some uncertain conditions which can cost your dreams. Make note of everything that is to be considered.

When you know how the financial aid office works, you get the time to plan accordingly. Since the functioning of such offices is different in different colleges, it is a good idea to collect information beforehand and make the small tweaks required in the applications for respective colleges. For instance, if the financial aid office in a college requires you to file for aid before other parts of the application, you would not want to prepare at the last moment.

  1. Know about the usual terms for various offices

Right when you begin the application process and reach out to financial aid offices, you’ll realize that there is a ton of choice out there. If you are a credible student, it is really about you choosing what institution to go with. They will be willing to offer you a considerable amount of financial aid. However, this is where the research you would have conducted beforehand comes into play.

It is not a good idea to directly jump to going with fancy institutions that offer loans with the cheapest rates of interest. If you are dealing with a dedicated agent, you need to make sure that you do not fall prey to good words. A rash decision like this may go on to make you regret your decisions later. This is a place where you’re knowing about the financial aid office helps. Do enough research to make sure the office or institution you are working with is authentic. You do not want to waste your time or money. Also, note down the pay allotted to you and decide terms of whether or not you are satisfied with the service they provided. In recent times, there has been a flood of fake institutions coming up for selfish needs and conducting fraud with students. If you conduct the required research and gather information regarding the financial aid office, it will be of great help in this regard.

  1. What kinds of aid or scholarships the office offers

As already mentioned above, there are different kinds of financial aids that a student can hope to gain. However, since you will be applying to different colleges and universities, knowing about their respective financial aid offices will help you decide whether or not they offer the kind of aid you are eligible for.

For instance, if you are a student who has been good at a particular sport all their life, chances are that you are looking for a sport-based scholarship. However, if the financial aid office of your dream college does not hand out a lot of such scholarships, you should know about it in advance.

Here are some kinds of aids that students usually get and that you should keep in mind while doing your research about the aid offices:

  • Merit-based scholarship

As the name suggests, these are aids offered to students based on their academic merit. The merit is usually decided by a student’s performance in various exams conducted by the institution offering scholarship. At times, the college or university may even hand out this aid based on the past academic record. However, the concerned exams are highly competitive. Students need to prepare hard for them, right from the time the thought of studying abroad crosses their minds. The competition in such exams is cut-throat. Even a single mark can make or break the path you choose to walk upon.

Usually, this kind of aid offers you a handsome amount. Adding to the plus point, these scholarships do not need to be refunded.

  • Need-based scholarships

This kind of scholarship is meant for deserving students who come from families with a financial background that is not so great. You might need to pay some amount initially, later on, they will be guiding you with the procedure that accompanies. The office may need a co-signer as well. They are very similar to grants and are popular with students who are not able to bear their expenses. The state may invest a lot in such scholarships to provide the needy with basic pay. They may bear all the expenses if you perform well in exams and prove to them you are worth the investment.

  • Sports scholarship

This aid is meant for students who have been exceptional performers in one or multiple sports. Colleges are always looking for students who can strengthen their teams. Therefore, if you have been a good performer at a sport, you might just earn that acceptance letter from the college or university of your choice.

  1. What kind of repayment terms are usually offered

Another reason why students should know all about the financial aid office is that it helps them get an idea of the repayment terms the office usually offers to its students. If you are getting aid that you do not need to repay, that is the best case. However, if you get a loan from the office and are required to repay, having an idea of the terms that you can expect helps a great deal. Having this information gives you an idea of what exactly you are in for.

Dealing with financial aid offices is an indispensable part of applying to universities abroad, especially if you come from parts of the world like Asia, and Africa. The difference in currency strengths and the high tuition fees play the role of huge obstacles. However, if you attempt to collect information about financial aid offices, it is bound to help you in many ways, as explained above. Therefore, if you are a student planning to apply to colleges or universities abroad, remember that it is never too early for beginning to gather information about financial aid offices.