How To Study Abroad In The United States

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If you are planning to study in The United States, be aware it would not be easy. Indeed, even for Americans post-high represents a financial headache and a psychological challenge. That is because it cost a break and a leg to go to college in the United States. However, if you plan well just like many, you can make it happen even if you are from a disadvantaged socio-economic background.

But, first, let’s find out how higher education is structured.

What is the higher education structure?

Normally, after high school, Americans have multiple options depending on the student’s personal situation and career aspirations. In The United States as a student, you can either go into a community college, trade school, college or choose to attend a Bootcamp. Students can also decide on the length of the program of their choice. That is so true, you can do an accelerated program, a short-term study program, or a normal length program. Moreover, you can also decide to go after a degree or a certificate.

But as an international student, you are required to meet certain requirements for instance you can only study in The United States while on the appropriate student visa. As a result, certain programs might not be opened to you.


Study programs open to international students

Typically, international students who which to study in The United States will need a student visa.They are three student visas including F, J, and M.  

However, before initiating any visa process, the student must first apply and be accepted by a U.S. institution of higher education that is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

Online degree programs

New international students cannot enroll in a fully online degree of study in the U.S. Nonetheless, they are permitted to take a hybrid program. A hybrid program combines online learning and in-person learning.


Normally, international students are allowed to enroll and complete an accredited certificate in The United States.

What’s the Difference Between F, M and J Visas?

It is important as an international student to clearly distinguish between those visa types. For stater, they are all fall under the non-immigrant visa types.

Especially, the F visa is issued to non-United States citizens who wish to obtain an academic degree or certificate in an accredited institution of higher education and certified by the SEVP. On the other hand, the M visa is commonly known as the Vocational Student Visa. It is issued to students who wish to go into a non-academic learning program in the United States Finally, the J visa is the Exchange Visitor’s visa. It is available for exchange programs such as internships, nannies, teachers, students, and others.


How can I finance your study in The United States?

It is not easy to study in The United States. That is because,studying in The United States is very expensive and they are many limitation, especially for international students. For instance international students are not allowed to work outside their campus. It is true some colleges offer work-study program options but they are limited. So as an international student do not count on that to supplement your finances.

Luckily, they are multiple options available. One of the most capitalized strategies is to break down the budget and explore financing options for each post.

  • Tuition cost and books
  • Accommodation
  • Living expenses
  • Transportation
  • Foods expenses
  • Phone expenses
  • Health insurance

Tuition cost and books

This is probably the biggest concern when it comes to studying abroad. Then Combine scholarships, financial aid, student loan, and personal money for a stress-free experience.

  1. Scholarship

Consequently, you should only check schools with full scholarship opportunities to maximize your chances and reduce your financial burden.

  • Check the eligibilities
  • Meet the requirements
  • Apply
  • Apply to multiple scholarships

They are also, multiple organizations that offer scholarships related to specific topics, areas of expertise.

2. Financial aid

Make sure the school has a strong financial aid department before applying.

  • Check the eligibilities
  • Meet the requirements
  • Apply
  • Apply to multiple

Financial comes in multiple forms including aid from the alumni association or the school council.

3. Fellowship

This is probably the dream for any international student. Must fellowships cover 100% of your tuition cost in exchange the college will pay you a monthly stipend to work for them. The work the college assigns you will vary depending on the needs and the term of the fellowship. But it ranges from Professor assistant to tutoring, to consulting or research. However, they are very competitive. Sometimes more competitive than clinching a scholarship.

4. Student loans

Apply for student loans to supplement the rest. But make sure it only covers your tuition. Student loans should always represent a maximum of 30% of your total tuition cost. Private lenders work with specific schools. Before applying make sure the college you choose has a partnership in place with private lenders. The loans come in multiple forms and some lenders do not require a co-signer.

  • Check the terms and conditions
  • Meet the requirements
  • Apply
  • Apply to multiple


If you do not have money, then stay away from college dorms or any accommodation near your campus. Those are prime locations. Choose a location that is at least 20 minutes drive from your campus location to maximize your savings. That is why you should choose a city with good public transportation so you can save on gas, insurance, car, parking tickets, and others.

Another option is to Connect with family relatives, family friends, friends, any connection to check if you can stay at their place or if they can help you get a place. That is because the rent you might end up paying will probably be below the market price.

Finally, you can reach out to your college student advisory before arriving to connect with your fellow classmates or current students for good student housing deals. For instance, a shared bedroom is very common.

  • Estimate your annual budget
  • Find a place
  • Run your numbers
  • Apply
  • Apply to multiple

Living expenses

You need to find money to pay for accommodation, food, phone bills, and other living expenses. Usually, you can find a sponsorship to cover those expenses.

However, you will need to have at least 20% of your tuition fees in cash as a good rule of thumb. But the number greatly varies depending on your lifestyle and the state and city where you will go to college. For instance, 1000 US Dollars a month in Alabama will go a very long way, In New York that amount of money will barely cover your rent.

  • Estimate your annual budget
  • Gather information
  • Run your numbers
  • Raise your budget

Visa application

This is the easier part. But to augment your chances, you must make sure all your papers are in order

  • If your tuition is covered.
  • You have sponsorship for living expenses
  • and 20% of the tuition in cash.
  • You know where you are going to live and understand the state and the city.
  • You understand the requirements of your program, the length, the challenges, and you have a post-graduation plan.
  • The visa application process

Apply for a college

You have applied to multiple colleges in The United States, chances are you have received at least two acceptance offers. We suggest you apply to at least 3 colleges.

Accept the college offer and pay a deposit

Review all the acceptance offers and the requirements. Then, choose the right college and program for you. But, to confirm your interest in the program, you have to pay a deposit.  Keep in mind after your deposit.

Pay SEVIS fees

You will be registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and you must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee directly using a debit card or a credit card. However, depending on your country of origin you might be required to pay in cash, typically through Western union.

Get your I-20

Before getting your I-20 the school will generally require that you pay part of your tuition fees at least 30%. A good rule of thumb if you can pay the full tuition that will increase your chances during your visa interview.


How To Apply for visa

Complete the Online Visa Application

  • Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160  : complete the online visa application, and print the application form confirmation page to bring to your interview.
  • Photo:You will upload your photo while completing the online Form DS-160. Your photo must meet the Photograph Requirements.
  • Schedule an Interview on online and pay the fees: Before the intrview you will be required depending on your country to go do fingerprints and background checks.
  • Typically you receive an interview preparation from your college.

Due diligence

Do your due diligence, please. Check your school, make sure it is certified, accredited, and has a good reputation in the state and the city.

  • Research about the college’s reputation.
  • Research about the program and its opportunities
  • Learn more about the city and the state/province you are moving in.
  • Research about the location where you will live.
  • Research about the country.
  • Educate yourself about complexity of living, studying, working, and the country before you start your process.


The “Study in The Unites States” project is expensive and challenging venture. So, start early, I suggest starting at least one year prior to your effective starting date. This will give you enough time to put together all the pieces. Eventually, determine if this is for you. Finally, aim at STEM degree because it is in high demand.


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