A country to country introduction to finding financial aid

Financial Aid by country

Let’s track down the money!

Well before you get started, you need to understand that just like university tuition fees, there is a lot of variety in what is available depending on factors such as:

  • Your nationality
  • The country in which you are applying to study and get a scholarship
  • How heavily subsidized your university already is by taxpayers’ money
  • How ‘well-endowed’ is the University?!

You may have heard about large amounts of money being available for financial aid in the USA to offset what at first glance may seem very high tuition fees. Other countries heavily subsidize universities with tax money thus keeping fees low, or even free. In these countries there is very little financial aid available as your university tuition fees have already been subsidized by the local taxpayers. 

Before setting off on the trail to track down financial aid, it’s useful to have  an overview of tuition fees  country by country, as it  maybe you don’t need to invest time on searching out financial aid, particularly if you’re applying to a country where tuition is free e.g. Germany.

Financial Aid in the USA

Financial aid in the USA is complicated and multi-layered. We have attempted  to break this down into its constituent parts. Please note that there is more  financial aid available to US citizens than to non – US citizens. 

Financial Aid for US Citizens

Financial Need 

The difference between the cost of attendance (COA) at a college and your  Expected Family Contribution (EFC). While COA varies from college to  college, your EFC does not change based on the college you attend. 

You can fill out a FAFSA form online to ascertain your EFC 

FAFSA(for US citizens) 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) allows students to apply for more than $150 billion in grants, loans, and work-study funds. Check out this video for info about the FAFSA and the resources available to help fill out this important application. Visit FAFSA form – Financial AId  to learn more and to fill out the form. 

These are the main types of financial aid available 

Grants (Pell Grant) 

The federal government provides grants for students attending college or  career school. Most types of grants, unlike loans, are sources of free money  that generally do not have to be repaid. 


Scholarships are gifts. They don’t need to be repaid. There are thousands of  them, offered by schools, employers, individuals, private companies,  nonprofits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social  organizations.

Some scholarships for college are merit-based. Other scholarships are based  on financial need. You can learn about scholarships in several ways,  including contacting the financial aid office at the university you plan to  apply to. 

Work Study Program 

Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate  students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay  education expenses 


If you apply for financial aid, you may be offered loans as part of your  college’s financial aid offer. A loan is money you borrow and must pay back  with interest. 

In-State Tuition  

This usually costs less than half. You must meet residency qualifications. 

Financial Aid for Non-US Citizens

There may be some scholarships and other aid you can get. 

  • Check with your country’s government to see what they offer.
  • E mail the college you plan to attend and ask whether they offer any  aid for international students 
  • Check out the  Education USA Financial Aid
  •   Many colleges provide institutional financial aid to international students. If it is the college’s own money, they get to choose who they  give it to. If it is federal/state tax money then in almost all cases it will be  restricted to US citizens.
  • Some colleges will automatically give merit based aid based on IB  grades (check each  college’s website as this varies considerably).

CSS Profile This form is similar to FAFSA (for US Citizens) and collects information about your family’s income, assets, and expenses. This helps  individual colleges ascertain if you qualify for their financial aid.

CSS Profile form Financial Aid 

Many colleges provide institutional financial aid to international students. 

A great place to start: 

Financial Aid Calculator on College’s own website… 

Most international students fund themselves with a mixture of grants/ loans from their own government, money from their parents, scholarships or loans from individual universities. 

Look at the price differences from one state to another, and between private universities and publicly funded universities. Shop around, you can save a lot of money.

Financial Aid in Canada

Non-Canadian Citizens
There is not much financial aid available to international students aside from the entrance awards and scholarship programs like ILOT by individual universities in Canada.  

e.g. Here is a link for UBC  international scholars’s program- UBC International Students Financial Aid

Canadian Citizens
For Canadian citizens, and permanent residents, there are grants and financial assistance available, and they are asked to apply through the province where your parents last lived.

The Canadian government has a comprehensive page for grants and loans for Canadians and permanent residents- Financial Aid in Canada for Canadians 

Citizens of France and Belgium!
You pay Canadian tuition fees at universities in the province of Quebec irrespective of whether you study in English or French. (Quebec is a French speaking province of Canada).

Financial Aid in the UK

The UK government offers hundreds of scholarships, bursaries and additional financial support to students from several countries. You can visit the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) website  to find out if you are eligible for a scholarship. 

Many institutions also offer their own financial assistance, and you can check their websites for more information.

Financial Aid in the Australia

Unfortunately there is not much aid available to international students.

Most international students fund themselves was a mixture of grants and loans from their own government, money from their parents, scholarships or loans from individual universities. 

Fulbright – US Citizens study in Australia

Financial Aid in the Netherlands

Many Dutch universities and universities of applied sciences offer scholarships to international students. These come in different forms and sizes, from university-wide to programme-specific funding. You can find out more about your options by looking up your programme or directly contacting the institution. Study in Netherlands: Finances

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