For international students, how to find financial support for your master’s degree? 

By Xinyi Luo

It is no secret that the U.S. is one of the most expensive countries for international students to further their studies. Compared to Americans, international students need to pay higher tuition to finish their degree in most cases.

At the University of Missouri, the estimated cost of attendance for the 2021-22 academic year for Missouri residents is $24,092, while for non-Missouri residents, it is $42,698, almost twice the former.

It is harder for international students because of fewer scholarship opportunities. For example, International students do not qualify for aid through the U.S. government. And in lots of scholarships’ eligibility requirements, the first one is U.S. residents. Thus, when I searched for scholarship opportunities, it would be the first thing I checked.

Many international students rely on financial support from their families. According to IIE Open Doors research, 56.2% of international students in the U.S. were funded by personal and family for the 2019-20 academic year.

So, with more expenditure and fewer support opportunities, how should international students support their higher education in the U.S.?

First of all, I would strongly recommend international students to talk with their families. It is a good way to have a family meeting discussing the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad in the United States. In reality, total tuition for some two-year, full-time graduate programs can cost more than $100,000. Whether it is affordable for the family? Or even whether it is worthwhile for you to chase a master’s degree? It is rare for international students to finish their master’s degrees without family support. So, being on the same page with your family will be a solid foundation for you to further your education.

Secondly, start and prepare your application earlier. When you are preparing your application, pay attention to the financial aid information, some fellowship applications would end earlier before the due of the program application. It is also vital to fully prepare your application, revising your resume and essays. You are more likely to receive a scholarship as a strong applicant. Although scholarships are usually the most challenging form of financial aid to secure, they are prestigious and highly coveted.

Thirdly, do some research on scholarships in your own country and on the internet. Some countries will offer national scholarships supporting students to study abroad. And also, there are some scholarships for international students provided by foundations and NGOs. Don’t forget to check the email sent by your school’s international center and academic advisor. I knew scholarship information in an email sent by MU international center. And then, I sent an email to the director to ask whether I was qualified for the application. After confirming my qualification, I worked on the application and finally got $2,500 this semester.

Fourthly, look for student employment opportunities. Lots of students have an on-campus part-time job or work-study position. Usually, after the first semester at graduate school, you could apply for positions like teaching assistants to earn money. Work-study positions would be an excellent way for students to gain a deeper understanding of knowledge and support their study financially at the same time.

It is hard to say whether it is worthwhile to apply to a graduate school directly. But an advanced degree is about more than money. If I could only offer one suggestion, I would say, plan and ask for help in advance. In reality, there are many opportunities and chances to support your higher education, but many students miss them because of the lack of research and preparation. Thus, do not forget to search financial aid info when you’re struggling with your application. Sometimes, it will bring you a big surprise.

Xinyi Luo is a senior at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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