The United States of America is the world’s leading study destination for international students. It’s not just the high standard of U.S. universities that attracts students from far and wide – this huge and incredibly varied country has something for everyone, whether it’s the bright lights and fast pace of the big city or miles of unspoiled wilderness; sun-kissed beaches or vast mountain ranges; the rustic and traditional or the sleek and modern. With over 150 leading universities listed on the QS World University Rankings, American universities are widely known for the quality of their teaching and research. Today about 30% of all current international students in the world are studying in the United States. Below is a list of top 10 universities at the U.S, each with financial aid opportunities.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1861, the Institute has held the first place on the QS World University Rankings for 7 straight years now, with 12 of 48 disciplines also placed first worldwide, and 7 other disciplines on the top 5.
MIT provides higher educations in undergraduate, graduate and postdoc programs, classified into 30 departments across 5 schools; from science and engineering to the arts, architecture, humanities, social sciences, management, and interdisciplinary programs.
MIT is a remarkably diverse community – drawing students from all 50 states and from 120 countries – as it is built on the idea that talent and good ideas can come from anywhere. The MIT’s exceptional community pursues its mission of service to the nation and the world through teaching, research, and innovation.
MIT offers financial aid to both undergraduate and graduate students. The aid usually comes from a variety of sources. As for undergraduate students, financial aid is offered as grants or scholarships, student loans, or work opportunities. The MIT Scholarships are awarded based solely on financial need and come from the institute’s endowment, gifts from MIT alumni and friends, and MIT general funds. Approximately 58% of the undergraduates receive MIT Scholarships that average $45,542 per student. Beyond the MIT Scholarship, undergraduates may receive scholarships and grants from government and private sources.
On the other side, graduate funding may take the form of research assistantships, instructor and teaching assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, scholarships, grants, and/or other forms of employment, such as working as a resident tutor in an undergraduate residence. Most forms of graduate support are granted for merit, while others are granted for financial need or a combination of merit and need. Stipends ranges are set by the Institute but may vary greatly between departments.
For more information on MIT admissions and aid, visit www.mit.edu.
Stanford University is an American private research university in Stanford, California. It is known for its academic strength, wealth, proximity to Silicon Valley, and ranking as one of the world’s top universities – holding second place on the QS World University Rankings 2019. Established in 1891, Stanford University consists 7 schools, with 65 major fields of undergraduate study and over 90 graduate fields of study. These schools include Business; Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences; Education; Engineering; Humanities and Sciences; Law; and Medicine.
Stanford University offers financial aid for both undergraduate and graduate students. Financial aid for undergraduates is differentiated into financial aid for new students and financial aid for continuing students. Meanwhile, the graduate financial aid is offered as Federal Student Aid and Graduate Student Loan. Application requirements vary by citizenship status and enrollment/application status. The Federal Student Aid is offered to students that are “eligible noncitizens”. You are considered an “eligible noncitizen” if you fall into certain categories, such as:
- You are a U.S. national (includes natives of American Samoa or Swains Island) or a U.S. permanent resident with a Form I-551, I-151, or I-551C (also known as “green card”).
- You are an Arrival-Departure record (I-94) from U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing Refugee, Asylum Granted, Cuban-Haitian Entrant, Conditional Entrant, or Parolee.
- You hold a T nonimmigrant status (T-visa) or your parent holds a T-1 nonimmigrant status.
- You are a “battered immigrant-qualified alien” who is a victim of abuse by your citizen or permanent resident spouse, or you are a child of a person designated as such under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
- You are a citizen of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau.
For more information on Stanford University and financial aid opportunities, visit www.stanford.edu.
Harvard University is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, established in 1636. The University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally. Harvard offers an unparalleled student experience and a generous financial aid program, with over $160 million awarded to more than 60% of its undergraduate students. The University has 12 degree-granting schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The schools of Harvard include Harvard Business School, Harvard College, Harvard Division of Continuing Education, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School, Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Harvard offers scholarships to both prospective and current students. However, the process to apply is essentially the same for all students. Regardless of your citizenship or when you are applying, you will need to submit a CSS Profile and an IDOC Packet. U.S. citizens and permanent residents will also need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is a free form and if you only wish to apply for federal aid it is the only form you need to submit. All of the scholarships are based on demonstrated financial need.
For more details, visit www.harvard.edu.
California Institute of Technology
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a private doctorate-granting research university in Pasadena, California. Founded in 1891 as Throop University and renamed in 1920, Caltech is known for its strength in natural science and engineering, and is often ranked as one of the world’s top 10 universities. Caltech currently sits at number 4 on the QS World University Ranking 2019.
Caltech provides higher education in undergraduate and graduate studies, with academic divisions in Biology & Biological Engineering; Chemistry & Chemical Engineering; Engineering & Applied Sciences; Geological & Planetary Sciences; Humanities & Social Sciences; and Physics, Mathematics & Astronomy.
Caltech also offers a need-based financial aid program to undergraduate students, to help cover the cost of attending Caltech. There are three main types of aid offered at Caltech:
- Grants & Scholarships – monetary gifts that are based on demonstrated financial need
- Work-Study – an allotment of money that needs to be earned each year by working on-campus or at other eligible institutions.
- Loans – borrowed money that will need to be repaid with interest after leaving school.
For graduate students, financial support comes in the form of fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, or some combination of fellowship and assistantship support. In most cases financial assistance is awarded on an annual basis, and is based on satisfactory academic progress. A separate application for requesting financial aid is not required.
For more information, visit www.caltech.edu.
University of Chicago
Established in 1890, the University of Chicago (UChicago) is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. The University is composed of 52 majors and 41 minors in the undergraduate college, various graduate programs and interdisciplinary committees organized into 5 academic research divisions and 6 professional schools.
UChicago awards over $100 million of financial assistance and scholarships to extraordinary people, regardless of race, gender, religion, or financial ability, annually. It is one of the few highly-selective institutions to award both need-based and merit-based aid. Although the specifics vary from program to program, the University helps students pay for their educations in numerous ways – through direct funding and through facilitating eligible student participation in federal loan programs. The vast majority of doctoral students receive a full, five-year package, including tuition and a stipend. Master’s programs differ more widely, with many offering some merit aid awards, and a few offering need based aid.
External awards are also available for incoming students as fellowships. In addition, the University offers a wide array of opportunities for paid employment, educational benefits for veterans, teaching or research assistantships, fellowships or grants, and other financial aid. Visit www.uchicago.edu for more information.
Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the 9 colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. With 42 Doctoral departments and programs, 18 Master’s degree programs, 37 academic departments, 33 interdisciplinary/interdepartmental doctoral programs, and 55 interdisciplinary undergraduate certificate programs, Princeton University is ranked 13th on the QS World University Rankings 2019.
Princeton University has an aid program that is designed to encourage all qualified students – regardless of financial circumstances – to consider applying for admission to Princeton. The University awards $13,600 for average net cost of tuition, college fee, room and board for aid recipients annually. If offered admission, Princeton will meet 100 percent of your demonstrated financial need with a combination of grants aid and a campus job. Princeton’s no-loan policy replaces student loans with grant aid that students do not pay back. Princeton applies the same policy to international students.
For more information on Princeton University and its admissions and aid, visit www.princeton.edu.
Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge – from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. The University provides exceptional education in 8 undergraduate units and 4 graduate and professional units in Ithaca, 2 medical graduate and professional units in New York City, and one in Doha, Qatar.
As Cornell offers financial aid, many students are able to graduate from Cornell with little to no debt, and about half of all undergraduate students receive substantial financial aid in the form of Cornell grants, which is a free money that does not need to be repaid. These types of financial aid are:
- Cornell Grants: Gift aid provided by Cornell that does not need to be repaid. The amount is based on family financial need, with no minimum or maximum amount of gift aid that can be awarded.
- Work-Study: Students who receive financial aid may also be eligible for Federal Work-Study. Students are eligible for part-time employment (typically 9-12 hours per week) to earn money to be applied to your educational expenses.
- Loans: Aid that must be repaid with interest after you leave school (having graduated or dropped below half-time).
- Total Annual Cost for Family: After factoring in Cornell grants, loans and work-study, the remaining portions the total annual cost for each family. This is a combination of the parent contribution and students contribution.
- Outside Scholarships: Some outside private and non-profit organizations award aid based on specific criteria, such as academics, special talents, traits or interests. Students who receive outside aid can use this funding to reduce the self-help component (loans and work study) of their financial aid package, but these will not reduce the family contribution.
Visit www.cornell.edu for further details.
Yale University is an American private Ivy League research university with a wide array of programs, departments, schools, centers, museums, and many affiliated organizations. The University is located in New Haven, Connecticut, and was founded in 1701, which makes it the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the 9 Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.
Yale is committed to being financially accessible to students from all backgrounds and from around the world. All financial aid provided by Yale is need-based to ensure that talented students can afford a Yale education, regardless of their economic resources. The scholarship can vary from a few thousand dollars to over $65,000 per year. It meets the full demonstrated financial need of all students, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. This includes undocumented students living in the US, with or without DACA status. Procedures for applying for financial assistance are set by the individual schools and programs.
For more information, visit www.yale.edu.
Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university located in Upper Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The University is one of the world’s most important centers of research and at the same time a distinctive and distinguished learning environment for undergraduates and graduate students in many scholarly and professional fields.
Columbia University offers an outstanding and comprehensive array of academic programs. These include 3 undergraduate schools, 13 graduate and professional schools, a world-renowned medical center, 4 affiliated colleges and seminaries, 25 libraries, and more than 100 research centers and institutes.
The University also offers financial aid to all its students. The Institutional Grant Aid by School covers 30-46% of tuition for undergraduate schools students (Columbia College; Engineering; and General Studies) and covers 13-51% of tuition for graduate and professional schools students (Architecture, Planning & Preservation; Arts; Business; Engineering; Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; International & Public Affairs; Journalism; Law; and Social Work).
For more information, visit www.columbia.edu.
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private research university located in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Chartered in 1755, Penn is the sixth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to its world-renowned graduate and professional schools.
Financial need is not a barrier to a Penn education. The University offers “all-grant” financial aid packages, substituting grants for loans. Financial aid is available for all undergraduate students and to the below-listed graduate and professional students, both prospective and currently enrolled students.
- Graduate Students
- The Annenberg School for Communication
- The College of Liberal and Professional Studies – Master’s Programs
- The Graduate School of Education
- School of Design
- The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
- The Schools of Arts and Sciences – Graduate Division
- The School of Nursing – Graduate Division
- The School of Social Policy & Practice
- The Wharton School
- Professional Students
- Penn Dental Medicine
- The Law School
- The Perelman School of Medicine
- The School of Veterinary Medicine
Student Registration and Financial Services (SRFS) is the University’s one-stop shop for financial services, enrollment, records and registration, and student employment. Application procedures for admission and financial aid can be found at www.srfs.upenn.edu. Further details on the University and the programs provided can be found at www.upenn.edu.