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Financial Ability

Prospective F-1 or M-1 students must have the financial resources to live and study in the United States. This includes being able to cover the cost of tuition, books, living expenses and travel. Designated school officials (DSOs) must collect evidence of the student’s financial ability before issuing a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.”

Additionally, prospective students must bring their evidence of financial ability when applying for their student visa with the U.S. Department of State. It is also advised to have the evidence on-hand when entering the country at a U.S. port of entry, in the event a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer asks to review it. 

Evidence of Financial Ability

A prospective student must have financial evidence showing that they or a sponsor has sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses during the period of intended study. Evidence of financial ability includes but is not limited to:

  • Family bank statements.
  • Documentation from a sponsor.
  • Financial aid letters.
  • Scholarship letters.
  • Letter from an employer showing annual salary.

Certain Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified schools may have specific requirements for acceptable forms of evidence. To verify if a form of financial evidence is acceptable, contact the school’s international student office.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Opportunities

While international students are not eligible for U.S. government-funded financial aid, sometimes SEVP-certified schools offer financial aid and scholarships for their F and M students. Here are some resources for finding scholarship and financial aid opportunities:

  • Check with your SEVP-certified school: The United States has many different types of colleges and universities, which means that financial aid options vary. Some schools offer assistance based on financial need, while others offer academic and athletic scholarships. Once you receive your acceptance, contact your school’s financial aid office and DSO to find out what type of aid you might qualify for and how to apply.
  • Visit EducationUSA: EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of State network with advising centers in more than 170 countries, and represents the largest group of advisers committed to promoting accredited U.S. higher education institutions. You can visit an advising center near you or visit the EducationUSA website. The website offers a variety of information about the international student process in the United States, including how to finance your studies.

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