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One of the most important decisions you will make as an international student is where to study. There are over 2,000 schools in the United States that accept international students, and the school you choose could determine your future financial success. The school you choose determines the amount of money you will be spending over the next few years, and that amount can vary greatly depending on the school you choose. Cost of tuition is only the beginning of the factors you have to consider; there’s also the cost of textbooks, accommodation, food, health insurance, electronics, other educational fees such as lab fees, and more. Below are some financial factors to consider when choosing a school at which to study.
This is the most obvious financial factor to consider. Costs of tuition vary wildly from school to school. In the United States, public colleges tend to be much less expensive than private colleges. Although you, as an international student, will have to pay out-of-state tuition at a public college, you will likely still be paying less in tuition than you would at a private school. Ask yourself how much you are willing and able to pay in tuition, make a cost comparison chart of the schools you are considering, and see which one is the best option for you.
Financial aid can be a huge help in paying for school, and can sometimes make or break your ability to attend a certain school. For both public and private universities, financial aid for international students is limited. However, some schools are able to provide more financial aid for international students than others. You’ll want to contact your potential schools to ask them what financial aid is available to you. Find out if they offer need-based aid, what is your likelihood of receiving financial aid, how much you can expect, and whether or not there’s an opportunity for you to find employment on campus. You will also want to look into any scholarships that you qualify for. When it comes to financial aid, every little bit helps.
After you calculate the costs of your education, you will want to compare those numbers to your projected income. Granted, at this point it might be difficult to predict your future income, it is not impossible with a little research to make an estimation. Salary.com, for example, can supply you with the average salaries of jobs in the United States, should you plan on staying in the US to work following graduation.
It is possible that you might be able to gain employment during your studies. Some US colleges and universities offer international students the opportunity to work part-time, and allocate funds to allow international students to work in compliance with their visa restrictions. Check with potential schools to find out whether that might be an option for you, and make sure to familiarize yourself with your visa restrictions regarding working during your studies. Keep in mind, as well, that this will not likely bring in much income for you.
Where the school is located is another important financial factor to consider. Cities like New York City, San Francisco, and Washington DC are some of the most popular dream destinations for international students, but they are also cities with some of the highest costs of living in the US. Look into the cost of living of the cities in which the schools you are considering are located, as this can severely affect your ability to study in specific areas.
Click to learn about working in the U.S. on an F1 visa.