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Tuition Waivers for International Students

Many colleges and universities do not offer as many traditional types of financial aid for international students as they do for students who are United States citizens. However, international students who are in need of financial assistance can look into whether or not their US college or university offers tuition waivers for international students.

What is a Tuition Waiver?

A waiver allows for all or a portion of a student’s tuition not to be paid. If the waiver is for part of your tuition, you as a student are responsible for payment of the remaining tuition not covered by the waiver. Waivers are issued only for the period in which a student is currently enrolled, which means that your application must be submitted to later than the date of Commencement at the end of the spring semester or the official graduation date at the end of the summer session or fall semester. You will need to reapply for each semester that you would like your tuition waived.


The eligibility requirements for tuition waivers for international students vary from school to school. In order to be eligible, you must be a citizen and resident of a foreign country. Most schools offer tuition waivers for students holding either F-1 or J-1 visas, but some schools limit tuition waivers to F-1 students. You must be registered at the school. Many colleges and universities require that international students applying for a tuition waiver have already attended the school for a certain amount of time (generally either one or two semesters).

Generally schools grant tuition waivers based on the student’s availability of funds, student need, and student merit. If you are of good academic standing, you have a better chance of receiving a tuition waiver. Some, but not all, schools have minimum GPA that you must maintain in order to apply for a tuition waiver. Schools will also look at your extracurricular and work activities.

Most schools award tuition waivers to both undergraduate and graduate international students, but some colleges and universities in the United States reserve tuition waivers for undergraduate students.

Contact your school or check their website to find out their specific eligibility requirements for tuition waivers for international students.

Maintaining a Tuition Waiver

As with the eligibility requirements, schools have different policies on maintaining a tuition waiver. Some schools require that students acquire a part time on campus job in order to maintain their waiver. Most schools set a minimum number of credit units in which students must be enrolled to maintain their waiver.

A large number of schools require that international students who receive a tuition waiver must complete a certain number of unpaid volunteer service hours each semester. The number of hours required varies according to school. You can check your school’s website to find out the required number of hours, as well as the volunteer service options that are available for students. After completing your hours, you will be responsible for submitting proof of your volunteer hours to your school’s international student office by the deadline set by your school.

Applying for a Tuition Waiver

The application process for a tuition waiver for international students also varies according to school. Most schools require that international students submit a tuition waiver application form to the school’s international student office. Some schools, however, review international students for financial assistance after the student has been accepted. In these cases, all international students are automatically considered for tuition waivers.

Contact your school or visit their website to find more details about their international student tuition waiver policy.

Watch videos and learn more with our International Financial Aid Resources center

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