Written with David Hawkins of The University Guys

Much of the advice on this blog will apply to international students. By “international” student here I mean either you don’t hold a US passport or you do and your high school education has taken place wholly or partly outside of the US. There are a few important differences. First, let’s talk money.

Financial Aid Essentials for International Students

Give a listen to this podcast for advice and tips from one of the experts on financial aid for international students.

Testing Essentials for International Students

Different parts of the world will have different levels of access to test centers for the ACT or the SAT and there may not be the same level of choice. If the nearest SAT center is in your city but the nearest ACT center is a flight away, the ACT may not be your best option. US testing and registration dates differ from international test dates, so don’t miss out; make sure you are looking at the correct information on the ACT and SAT websites. Also, if you need accommodations (e.g., extra time, access to a computer, rest breaks), bear in mind you may have to travel a long way to find a test center willing to provide these arrangements. 

Given that many international high school students must take exams in order to graduate, lots of US universities waive SAT or ACT scores for international applicants. When you look for test-optional or test-flexible colleges, see if this applies to international applicants, as many colleges require SAT or ACT from domestic students but not from international students.

Depending on your school system and the requirements of the universities you’re applying to, you may need to take an additional test to prove your English fluency. TOEFL and IELTS are the two main tests traditionally accepted, but others such as the Duolingo English Test are also acceptable. Find the English language requirements pages on college admissions websites.

A Few More Essential Tips

  • US universities send admissions officers around the world to recruit students, visit international high schools, and attend university fairs. EducationUSA has advising centers around the world where you can find guidance and connect with visiting universities. 

  • If you attend a high school that doesn’t teach in English, you may have a hard time getting the materials for your application. You might also need to send your documents through a credential evaluator who can translate and provide an official report to the universities you’re applying to.

  • At some point in the application process, you’ll need to provide proof of finances to a university. Most will ask you to do this when you have chosen to enroll, but a small number will ask you to prove this when you apply. Check the ‘required documents’ section for international applicants on each college’s admissions website to find out.

Additional Links: 

Additional CEG Resources for International Students