May 27, 2015

Colleges offering financial aid to international students

WPI is relatively generous to international students.
When two amazing educational consultants collaborate on an important project, great things are bound to happen.

Jennie Kent, founder of Educate Abroad located in Bogota, Colombia, is a recognized expert on international students, and Jeff Levy, an independent educational consultant based in Los Angeles, has particular expertise in the area of financial aid.

Together they decided that there was way too much mystery surrounding the availability of financial aid for international students.

“Institutions clearly value international students and are willing to invest in them,” explained Kent.  “But we were troubled that there wasn’t a reliable resource available for these families that aggregated the policies and aid amounts offered to better help them make application decisions.”

So Kent and Levy invested literally hundreds of hours in devising a “must-have” resource for international families or anyone who works with international families, which specifies the financial aid policies with regard to international students, of nearly 400 nationally-ranked colleges and universities.  Specifically, the document (available here or here) includes:

  • a list of institutions along with their aid policy,
  • the number of nonresident alien undergraduates that attend as well as how many receive aid,
  • the average award size, and
  • the data source used.

Along the way, Kent and Levy made a few interesting observations.  First, they found broad discrepancies in how institutions define an “international student.”  Second, they discovered almost no observable consistency among their study of nearly 400 institutions regarding their financial aid policies toward these students.  Some were need-based aid only, some merit aid only, some both, and some offer none at all.

For example, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a medium-sized innovative STEM-focused institution, offers both need-based aid and merit aid to its international students. The average need/merit award is $21,833 and about 80% of its international population are receiving aid. On the other hand, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a very similar institution with an almost identical number of international students, offers no need-based or merit aid whatsoever to this cohort.

Locally, the University of Virginia, like many large public institutions, offers no need-based or merit aid to its international students. Yet the University of Mary Washington does offer merit aid to these students, with about 80% of them receiving an average award of about $11,300.

“When it comes to financial aid for international students, it is important for students to look at each institution’s policy because no two are exactly alike in the amount or percentage of students that they award. If there is any consistency at all, it’s that many highly selective small- and medium-sized liberal arts institutions are quite generous with aid to this cohort,” suggested Levy.

Again locally, Washington and Lee University offers both need-based and merit aid. Its average award is about $52,000 and approximately 96% of its international students are receiving aid.  The University of Richmond offers both need-based and merit aid. Its average award is about $44,000 and approximately 50% of its international students are receiving aid.

The document developed by Levy and Kent is being offered free of charge.  Their goal is simply to get the information out to the widest possible audience.

To obtain a copy of the PDF, go to Jennie Kent’s website via this link: (click on Financial Aid for Nonresident Alien Undergraduates under Free PDFs) or go to Jeff Levy’s website via this link:

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