If you are looking forward to applying for any postgraduate course in the United States of America, financial matters are among the most important considerations. The cost of education has gone up in the country like any other part of the world. In such a scenario it is pretty important for both the parents as well as the students to be well aware of the costs before moving ahead and preparing their plans. One of the most critical things here is starting early and putting in adequate time as well as efforts to look for a possibility of getting scholarships.
Taking the case of the US, one would be delighted to know that both national & international students receive a considerable amount of financial assistance for their studies in the country. The estimates released by Association of International Educators state that over $9.699 billion had been received by over 880,000 international students in the country during the year 2013-14.
Key Sources of Funding in the US
One of the key things that every student looks to search is the information about the expenses while applying for a particular course. Usually, there are 4 types of funding that are available for study in the country, they are:
- Personal or Family Savings
- Loans from US lenders
- Scholarships from US universities
- Scholarship received from external bodies
The departments in which students have to indulge in research activities or take up teaching responsibilities are primarily the popular areas where funding is easily granted. These may include tuition forgiveness or even stipends to pay for most of the expenses.
The concept of Minimum Stipends or Tuition waivers
There are several elite universities in the country that clearly state their minimum stipends or tuition waivers for their students. The terms may vary largely and might comprise of fellowship or scholarship. It may even be followed by teaching responsibilities which are often in response to the pressure from students as well as competition faced by other alike universities. Departments at each institute mostly have adequate funds that are often dedicated to discretionary to fund for supplementing minor expenses like research trips or travel conferences.
Outside fellowships are also available to students through institutions like National Science Foundation or National Physical Science Consortium. The amount of funding largely different from one department or even university to the other. For example, there are a few universities that offer to fund for entire course duration to its students. However, there are other universities that are not eligible for it.
Funding for Students
The funding done to foreign students is pretty similar to the way in which domestic students are funded. The federally subsidized student & parent loans, as well as work-study assistance, is available to only US citizens, permanent residents, approved refugees and US nationals. There are several other funding sources like NSF fellowship which is only available to the domestic students. Some common factors that contribute towards financial difficulties among foreign students include:
- Cost of visit to families back home
- Supporting their families who are not eligible to work due to the immigration laws
- Tuition fees that are often high as compared to the world standards
- Visa Fees charged by the US Citizenship & Immigration Services
- Student & Exchange Visitor Information Systems & other surveillance fees
Most of the big universities maintain their dedicated scholarship packages that help in supporting the students. These are usually categorized in two different areas, namely:
- Scholarships for economically disadvantaged students (Need based)
- Scholarships to the best applicants based on their merits.
There are definitely different rules where in the funding by the university is also dependent on the nationality of the students. Moreover, each of them does have a quota reserved to support the domestic applicants as well.
There are 2 different kinds of Masters funding that are available for the universities, they are:
These are awarded to students for primarily covering the cost of tuition fees. Some of them even include stipends for paying for accommodation and other related expenses. Grants are often provided to these students as well. The universities usually pay a lump sum to the students based on the calculations made by providing funds that meet up all the expenses for the course. The other approach followed at some universities is a waiver of the costs to a certain extent. One should be aware that the scholarships for any Master degree in the US are only merit based. Hence, it becomes more than important to maintain a certain GPA for all the assessments during the entire course.
The other form of funding is assistantship where instead of awarding a grant the program provides a fee waiver. Some institutions also offer a stipend in return for specific services to their universities. It may include but not stay limited to teaching the undergraduate students or acting as an assistant in the workshops or labs. This kind of funding is mainly popular among the research students but is often regarded as an effective means of funding needed for undergoing Master’s degree in the country.
Federal Loans to US Masters Students
For the US citizens, it is possible to borrow money from federal governments to fund the course expenses. It is offered in form of Direct Plus Loan which is different from other schemes that are offered to the undergraduate students.
Some other important funding sources of Masters for International Students in the USA
America today has the most number of international students as compared to any other country in the world. Owing to this there are an ample number of funding opportunities that are available to students studying Masters in the US. While assistantship and scholarship are certainly an option, there are several other funding avenues that are available especially for the international students. Some of the sources are:
- US-UK Fulbright Commission: Started in the year 1948, this body promotes cultural exchanges and understanding among residents of both US and the UK. This is facilitated through offering advisory services to the students from both the countries. It is followed up by funding the students as per exchange programmes. A UK national is eligible for this funding which includes support for applying for a visa to the US. Most of the awards support the funding needed for the 1st year of study. The students who are often successful in bagging the Fulbright award often display a strong inclination towards understanding the culture of USA and intend to use their education to benefit the cultural relation among the two countries.
- Fulbright Foreign Student Programme: It is a part of a government initiative to support understanding as well as building positive relationship between the USA and other countries. This programme is run across 150 different countries and offers to fund to the students who aspire to study any of the US graduate programmes. The eligibility details for funding as well as the application process is different for each county whereby most of these awards are offered to support a student’s cost of education for the 1st year.
- American Association of University Women (AAUW) Educational Foundation: This body has been established to support academic needs of women aspiring to undergo master’s degree in the US. They offer their International Fellowship to women who belong to other nationalities but wish to undergo a Master’s programme in an American University. The candidates for this programme are selected based on merit as well as their commitments for supporting as well as representing the cause of empowering women by the use of education. As high as $18,000 is available for each applicant for undergoing a year’s study in the USA. There is even a provision in some awards that renews the funding for the 2nd year as well.