F-1 Financial Responsibility

American higher education is quite expensive compared to that of other countries. This is a fact that you, as international students, should be aware of.

International students are required to submit proof of sufficient funds to cover educational expenses in the U.S. in order to obtain a SEVS I-20. Having obtained an I-20, signing it and either entering the U.S. or filing a change of status to F-1 , you agree to have funds available for the duration of your studies. It is important, therefore, that you responsibly plan and manage your finances.

If family funds or personal funds can fully cover your educational expenses in the U.S. for the duration of your studies then, you may not need to look for other sources of funding. However, if you think that such family or personal funds may not be enough the, responsible financial planning becomes more important than ever. Responsible financial planning includes extensive research into the different financial assistance sources that may be available to you such as scholarships from your home country, home government loans or grants, or merit scholarships from international organizations. There are scholarships and grants from various private institutions and special agencies that international students may be eligible to apply for. But these scholarships and grants will obviously not find you;
you will have to find them.

Following are a few areas you can check:

1. Visit the Reference Section of the FIU Libraries
(or a local library in your area).

You can find guides or handbooks on financial assistance, scholarships, or grants in the library’s Reference section. These guides would list different international organizations, American institutions, or even multinational corporations that may offer some form of financial assistance to international students.

2. Check with your Academic Department. Some scholarships, grants or assistantships may be available through your academic departments. Meet with your academic advisor to find out if there’s any in your major field. Scholarships may also be available from the professional industry however, such information may not always be publicized and information could be available through professors in the specific fields. Let your professors know that you’re looking for possible scholarships.

Notes on funding from academic department
2a. Most academic scholarships are based on merit (i.e., high GPA is an eligibility requirement).

2b. Most financial assistance are available only at the graduate level and usually tied into a Graduate Assistantship which may include a combination of tuition waiver, scholarship and/or stipend.

2c. On a highly competitive level, selected Doctoral students may be awarded a Presidential Fellowship by their respective academic departments.

3. Contact the Foundation Center. The Foundation Center is located at:

79 Fifth Avenue
New York , NY 10003
Phone (212) 620-4230
Fax (212) 691-1828

The Foundation Center is a non-profit organization. The Center has a listing of grants for which some individuals may apply.

4. You may also check with the Institute of International Education. I.I.E. is located at:

809 U. N. Plaza
New York, NY 10017-3580
Phone (212) 883-8200
Fax: 212-984-5452

I.I.E. may be able to provide information on scholarships, grants or programs for eligible international students.

5. If you are from Central or South America, you may contact the Organization of American States. OAS offers an interest free loan grant to eligible international students through the Leo Rowe Loan Fund. For more information on eligibility and application process, please contact RoweFund@oas.org or write them at:

1889 F Street, NW,
Second Floor,
Washington , D.C. 20006
(202) 458-6208
fax (202) 458-3897

When you find information on a certain scholarship or grant, be sure you read and carefully understand the information provided. Most scholarships and grants specify eligibility requirements and still some will require you comply with certain procedures before even being eligible to apply. Some restrictions may be imposed such as academic major or field of study, educational level, or citizenship.

Keep in mind, financial aid at FIU (as well as in almost all state universities in the U.S.) comes from federal funding and, therefore, requires U.S. citizenship or permanent residence. Most scholarships will not cover all of your educational expenses. Some applications will require that you declare money available from you or from your family or sponsor.

It is really to your best interest to plan ahead if you intend to pursue your studies in the U.S. And while in the U.S., learn to responsibly and carefully manage your finances to avoid possible funding problems. Miami, like most urban centers in the U.S., offers endless facets of consumerism: shopping malls, factory outlets, clubs, bars, and a whole lot more. Be conscious of your budget; monitor your spending habits. Do keep in mind what your priorities are and the primary reason why you’re in the U.S.