Sunday, November 2, 2008

Financial Aid for International Students

Phew! If you hate preparing tax returns, balancing cheque books, examining financial records or merely filling out forms you will truly despise the process of applying for financial aid to support your kids in their bid to go to college. Nevertheless we are all grateful for the schools which do give financial support to students especially in the case of international students.









At schools which offer need based awards to international students ie. those students who are not citizens or permanent residents of the United States, the student and parents are required to complete the International Student Financial Aid Application(ISFAA). This form can be purchased on the college board website or it can be downloaded for free from the website of colleges that offer need based aid to International Students. For example at Amherst's financial aid office you can find the form in pdf format here. Interestingly, Amherst only just started including international students in its need blind admissions policy.

The form comprises seven sections.Section A deals wtih the student's personal information such as name, address, citizenship, visa type, marital status and names of colleges. Section B addresses the parents' personal information, including name of their employer and educational nformation family members currently in college . Section C is where it starts getting into the financial fineprint and this goes right through to Section G. One important piece of information that is required is the exchange rate of your currency to the US dollar. You need to state this and declare the dollar values required in US dollar terms.

The financial information required is detailed. You must submit documentation such as tax forms, employer statement or bank statement to support your declaration regarding your income. You are examined as to all sources of household income including from other members of the household and you are encouraged to speculate as to your expectations of a decrease/increase in next year's income. I would love to meet someone who is expecting an increase next year.

You are probed about your assets. So get the details of your family home to hand. The year of purchase, purchase price, amount owing, present market value of the family home and the value of other real estate is required along with investments, savings, students' assets, money owed to family and even artwork is enquired about. The assets include those owned outside of your home country. So make an inventory. it is important to note that the family business is considered here. If the parents do in fact own a famly business then the school will request that they also complete a business/farm statement which like the (ISFAA) can be found on the relevant school's website.

They are quite thorough about expenses too. Rent, utilities, food, clothing, medical espenses, insurance payments, car maintenance, vacation and even servants are among the items listed. Your debt situation is considered too. So get out those receipt, bank account and credit card statements. Your memory will not be enough and you will be required to do some mental jujitsu or even anticipate proof of developing some fundraising talents as Section F demands you list the expected support from the student, family, friends, government, private sponsor and the ubiquitous other, for educational expenses over the four year period your child will be in college.

The final section moves away from - for many - the terrifying numbers to the more comfortable prose. This means you are allowed to express yourselves as to any unuusual expenses or special circumstances which you'd like the college to consider.

Finally the student and the parents get to sign. It is important that students and parents note the deadline for filing these forms. For early action, you should be shipping them out if you haven't already. This makes it a bit tougher as if you file tax returns in your country you probably will have to get th information together a bit earlier than normal or do some speculation. For the regular decision applicants however most schools have a February deadline to submit this financial aid application. So get ready there is lots of counting ahead and remember to read the school's website to determine their policy as to aid, how financial aid packages are calculated and what you might be expected to contribute. Inform yourselves.

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