Skip to main content

Why do US colleges give out financial aid for international students?

When many international applicants look to the USA for university, they typically apply for a small pool of schools based on fame or name recognition.

While super famous schools like MIT, Yale, Harvard, or UCLA, to name a few, have their easy pick of talent with huge application pools, many well-established research schools are not getting applications from high achieving students who could work in their labs and projects, supporting their research and professors.

These schools can turn to offer both “merit-based” and “need-based” scholarships to draw talent to their school and ensure they will have the right kind of students to keep their programs supported, innovative, diverse, and engaging.

As the USA is a large country, each state is comparable to a small country and needs to continually have incoming talent and students to keep the research and innovation going.

When comparing Singapore to the USA, we can see the state of Colorado as very similar, with a $323.3 billion economy and population size nearly identical at around 5.6 million. Thus, while there are 20-30 super famous schools that many people know internationally, many states foster several large, well-connected, and well-funded universities that routinely offer funding to students applying internationally to draw in talent. These schools have ample budgets to provide exceptional experiences to students.

Best universities in each state, according to US News. Tulane University in Louisiana and Case Western Reserve in Ohio made our list of schools that offer substantial merit-based funding for international students.

Over the last eight years, while advising students applying from top high schools in Asia, I’ve encountered clients with different desires and needs. Some people really want international experience or career connections to the USA but consider cost as important, leading many families to add some schools to their school list that are well-known for funding international students.

With the average cost of college now reaching $50,000 per year in the USA, we wanted to share a list of schools where I have seen students get anywhere from 25,000 to 60,000 USD in funding. Some students can save the cost of around one year of tuition.

There are no guarantees, and the admissions team will also consider your parents’ income when making decisions; some students will only be offered “merit-based” aid based on the school’s standards around parental income. But from years of experience, we’ve observed that presenting strong profiles can help students gain access to funding.

It was exciting for many of my previous students and their parents to see how these large, well-funded, and well-respected research schools valued the time and effort they put into education, rewarding them with scholarships and merit-based aid.

Suggestions Based on Observations and Data

Previous students that have had the most success are the ones that demonstrate a drive and passion for working on research, practical projects, and community solutions. Universities know these kinds of students will be able to flourish, take advantage of their offerings, and contribute to their universities.

At Prep Zone, this is one of our main focuses in helping students build profiles that shine. So, when considering match and safety schools, consider some options that might offer you funding!

As every school offers different programs and access to different resources like internships, research, or career connections, it is always good to look at the options out there where you are being sought after and have access to great opportunities and resources.

Let’s look at some schools offering great international experiences and resources students need for their future careers while routinely providing funding to sweeten the deal! The past stories are supported by data about international students’ aid coming from Peterson’s Undergraduate Financial Aid Database and college rankings coming from US News. (This is not an extensive list, but a recommended one, and there are other examples of schools that have offered funding.

Our college planning can help to create strategic school lists. All schools below are on the Common App and would require finishing some extra essays and submitting them on the app.)

Recommendations For US Colleges with Financial Aid For International Students

Lehigh University, Pennsylvania

  • Average International Student Aid Amount: $48,706
  • Number of International Students Awarded Aid: 101
  • US News Overall – #51 in National Universities
School Website

Founded in 1865, with a total undergraduate enrollment of 5,451.

  • Percentage of students doing undergraduate research/creative projects: 59%
  • Percentage of students conducting Senior Capstones: 27%

Lehigh University boasts a strong focus on offering research and innovation experiences, as well as offering senior projects that will help launch students toward their futures, giving them the experience they need to continue within academia or enter the workforce. It has a smaller school community located in a quaint “college town.” Lehigh is a popular option for students who like the East Coast but want to avoid large cities or massive campuses and prefer to study in a smaller, more academic-focused community.

The most popular majors at Lehigh University include finance, computer science, mechanical engineering, accounting, marketing, business/managerial economics, and information technology.

The University of Rochester, New York

  • Average International Student Aid Amount: $37,523
  • Number of International Students Awarded Aid: 500+
  • US News Overall – #36 in National Universities
School Website

Established in 1850 with a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,570, Rochester boasts a 9:1 Student/Faculty Ratio, with 79.5% of its classes having fewer than 20 students. The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 93%, and most people love the close community and tight-knit relationships they make there due to the small class sizes and location in the smaller metro area of Rochester, which is home to 210,60 people.

  • Percentage of students doing undergraduate research/creative projects: 42%
  • Percentage of students conducting Senior Capstones: 36%

Rochester’s official motto, “Meliora,” translates from the Latin as “ever better” or “always better.” With ample funding for research and project initiation, the school offers a wide variety of research and practical project experiences that will get students ready for graduate school or taking on their first job after graduation.

The most popular majors at the University of Rochester include social sciences, biological and biomedical sciences, engineering, health professions, business, and management.

Case Western Reserve University, Ohio

  • Average International Student Aid Amount: $31,870
  • Number of International Students Awarded Aid: 127
  • US News Overall – #44 (tie) in National Universities
School Website

Founded in 1826, it offers a smaller community with 5,792 students enrolled as undergraduates while being connected to the Cleveland, Ohio metro area and its population of 367,000 people. It’s a great choice for students who want to experience the four seasons in a focused community of learners in a slower-paced “Midwest lifestyle.

CWRU has a budget of over $1 billion, research revenues of around $360 million, and an endowment of approximately $1.7 billion. It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a university with very high research activity, and the university is associated with 16 Nobel laureates.

Case Western Reserve University is best known for its Engineering research, with Engineering making up 30% of the undergraduate majors, Biological and Biomedical Sciences making up 13%, and Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services making up 10% of undergraduate majors.

Tulane University, Louisiana

  • Average International Student Aid Amount: $31,738
  • Number of International Students Awarded Aid: 236
  • US News Overall – #44 (tie) in National Universities
School Website

Founded in 1834, it has a total undergraduate enrollment of 7,780. As a smaller, historic institution, Tulane prides itself in offering a very intimate and personable education setting on campus with an 8:1 Student/Faculty Ratio and 61% of classes with fewer than 20 students. Yet, at the same time, it is connected to the unique and vibrant city of New Orleans.

The school works from the philosophy of learning through doing and supporting students to engage the community in meaningful and innovative ways. This focus has led Tulane to become Ranked #2 for Service Learning in the USA. (Service-learning programs use volunteering as an instructional strategy – and a requirement. The school develops courses that support and combine community engagement with theoretical and research knowledge.)

As the city of New Orleans has faced a complex series of issues that are uniquely challenging and diverse in the American context, the service learning students can engage in this environment can help them to become innovators and problem solvers in their future communities.

The University of Miami, Florida

  • Average International Student Aid Amount: $28,679
  • Number of International Students Awarded Aid: 236
  • US News Overall – #55 in National Universities
School Website

Founded in 1925 and with an undergraduate enrollment of 12,089, the University of Miami is the largest and newest school on this list and the one that is connected to the largest city, as Miami’s population is around 450,000. The school is located just outside of Miami but still offers various connections to programs and events, along with many conferences in many different fields that are held in Miami annually. The school is popular for people who hate cold weather and enjoy an average yearly temp of 24.6 °C; students can take advantage of Miami’s vibrant lifestyle and beaches. With museums, symphonies, sporting events, and the art scene in Miami, all accessible by the Metrorail and Metromover systems, it’s great for students who don’t plan on driving as they will have the mobility to explore the city. The University of Miami also has a great reputation among companies in the area hiring fresh graduates, so for people thinking they would like to try working in Miami or Florida in general after graduating, it is a logical pathway.

The most popular majors are business, law, medicine, and engineering, with the School of Medicine training at least 1,000 students in health-related programs each year. In some polls, it ranks as the Best in Information Technology Project Management, the Best in Business Statistics Programs, and #2 in Public Administration Programs. With ample research and project opportunities, newly-renovated student centers, and dorm facilities – the school is an excellent choice for students seeking funding, as 71% of all students, domestic and international, are offered some kind of aid.

Get Into Top Universities With Us

With a team of experienced consultants who are graduates from top universities around the world and an impressive track record, Prep Zone Academy is the perfect choice for aspiring students who want to secure their placement at top universities in the US and UK.

We can help you with:

  • Profile evaluation
  • Application management
  • Schools shortlisting
  • Essay editing
  • Interview coaching

Sign-up for a 100% free consultation today and kickstart your journey to the world’s most desirable colleges. Simply fill in the following form and we will get in touch shortly to schedule a suitable appointment.

For any urgent inquiries, call our hotline at +65 6812 9999.

[form id=”COLLEGE_14_03_OW0002″]

Free College Consultation

To register for a consultation session, provide us with your details below and we will get in touch to schedule a suitable time slot. For any additional inquiries, contact our hotline at +65 6812 9999


By submitting this form, I agree to Prep Zone Academy’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.


Author Tyler

More posts by Tyler