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Study Abroad

How to fund study at American universities

Studying in America isn't cheap, but there are a whole host of ways to get funding as a UK student in the USA. Allow us to explain.

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Credit: STILLFX, Dean Drobot – Shutterstock

It's common knowledge that choosing to study at an American university can make a serious dent in your bank balance. Many students would struggle to pay for one year's study, let alone four (the norm for undergrads in America).

Fortunately, there are loads of scholarships, grants and other types of funding available for UK students wishing to spend their time in the States. Read on to find out what funding could be available to you!

How much does it cost to study in America?

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We've said it once, and we'll say it again: studying at a university in America isn't cheap.

Depending on where you choose to study, the average cost of tuition alone is anywhere between £2,800 and £28,000 every year.

And unlike in the UK, where you can get a Tuition Fee Loan to cover your fees, in the USA your fees need to be paid in advance of each semester. You can pay for the whole year at once, or semester by semester, but either way, it's a significant sum of money to have to find each time.

As for living costs, the required spend is much more equal across the different types of colleges. You'll likely be looking at something between £11,000 and £13,000 to cover the cost of accommodation, transport and all your other expenses each year.

This means that, depending on the type of university that you attend, your total annual outlay could be as 'little' as £13,800, or as much as £41,000.

Of course, these are all average figures. Check out our guide to the cost of studying in America for a more detailed breakdown.

Financial support for UK students in America

Despite the considerably higher cost (upfront, at least) of studying in the USA, the financial support in the States is often less generous than what's on offer in the UK.

What's more, the UK Student Loans which are administrated by the Student Loans Company (SLC) are not available to British students studying abroad. This means that you'll have to look at alternative sources of funding for your degree.

Here are some options:

Financial aid and scholarships for students in America

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Credit: Warner Bros

You might look at the sky-high tuition fees of some US colleges and think, "Well, I can forget about going there". However, it's important to remember that the listed cost of tuition in America is very rarely what you'll actually pay.

In fact, according to Education Data Initiative, 86% of full-time undergraduates at American universities received some kind of financial aid – and often the colleges with the highest listed fees (which are usually the big names like Harvard and MIT) have the most generous support packages.

This financial aid can come in all shapes and sizes, including the famous sports scholarships that every jock is going for in teen movies. If you excel in a sport – any sport – it's worth saying so when you apply for an American university.

But sporting scholarships aren't the only type of financial aid. Extra support is often available for academically gifted students, too – and crucially, these funds are usually open to international students as well as Americans.

According to the Fulbright Commission, over 600 US universities offer scholarships worth $20,000 or more to international students.

And best of all, this financial aid will help to cover your living costs too – not just tuition.

Some universities (again, often the elite) even run a 'needs-blind' policy for all applicants. This means that your application will only be assessed on your academic credentials, and should you (literally) make the grade, the university will provide whatever financial assistance is necessary.

The financial support on offer will vary from uni to uni, so if you've got a shortlist of a few that you're interested in, you should check out their websites or get in touch with them to find out what you'd be eligible for.

Alternatively, check out one of the following sites for a whole host of scholarships, grants and fellowships on offer to international students in the USA:

American student loans

If it transpires that you're not eligible for any financial aid, you can still apply for a student loan from the US government.

However, this should be treated as a bit of a last resort. As much as the UK's Student Finance system is flawed, the American equivalent is arguably even worse.

In short, you'll need an American citizen (with a decent credit rating) to be a guarantor on your loan, and unlike in the UK where all loans come courtesy of the Student Loans Company, you'll have to choose which provider to go with.

Interest rates and repayment schedules can (and will) vary depending on who you choose. That said, you'll struggle to find terms that are as generous as those attached to Student Loan repayments in the UK (where debts are cancelled after 30 years, and you'll only ever repay a percentage of your income over the threshold).

Part-time jobs

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Credit: Sorbis – Shutterstock

Finally, you can also look to secure a part-time job to help fund your studies in America. Again, however, this shouldn't be considered a primary option.

Your student visa will only allow you to work on-campus, and even then you can only work for a maximum of 20 hours a week. And remember, you may need to have an American bank account for them to pay you.

During holidays you'll be able to work for up to 40 hours a week, but even so, it's highly unlikely that you'll find a campus job with a salary that can cover all your expenses – particularly given that you'll only be able to work a half-week most of the time.

Ready to make the jump and study in America? Make sure you read our guide to the differences between UK and US universities before you do!


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