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Paying for college can be expensive, and doing so as an international student often costs even more. But some institutions ease the monetary burden by offering financial aid to international students, making a U.S. college education more affordable.
International students are not typically eligible for federal financial aid, though some exceptions exist, such as for refugees and green card holders. But in the absence of grants and loans offered by the federal government, some colleges offer significant financial aid.
In all, 468 ranked colleges reported offering financial aid to at least 50 international students in an annual U.S. News survey in the spring. Across these schools, the average amount of financial aid disbursed to international students during the 2018-2019 school year was $22,142. However, some schools were far more generous, with the top 10 offering an average aid package of $65,767.
Schools offering that level of financial aid rank among the top 50 National Universities, institutions that are often research-oriented and offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, and National Liberal Arts Colleges, which emphasize undergraduate education and award half or more of their degrees across liberal arts fields.
Atop the list of schools offering international students the most aid is Columbia University in New York, tied as the No. 3 ranked school among National Universities in the 2020 Best Colleges rankings. Per U.S. News data, Columbia awarded an average of $68,718 in aid to 254 international students during the 2018-2019 school year. On the school website, Columbia promises "to meet 100% of all admitted first-year students' demonstrated financial need for all four years, regardless of citizenship."
Columbia also tops the list of most expensive private schools with tuition and fees at $61,850 for the 2019-2020 school year.
Skidmore College in New York and Duke University in North Carolina also are generous with aid for international students. Skidmore offered students an average of $67,085 for 2018-2019, while Duke disbursed an average of $66,754.
On the flip side, some schools offer little in the way of financial aid to international students. Two schools offered less than $1,000, per U.S. News data. The University of Central Florida, for example, awarded an average of $684 in financial aid to its international students. Likewise, Texas A&M International University awarded $801 on average.
Below are the 10 schools that gave the most in financial aid to at least 50 international students during the 2018-2019 school year. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report.
|SCHOOL NAME (STATE)||NUMBER OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS WHO RECEIVED AID DURING 2018-2019||AVERAGE AID AWARDED TO INTERNATIONAL UNDERGRADUATES DURING 2018-2019||U.S. NEWS RANK AND CATEGORY|
|Columbia University (NY)||254||$68,718||3 (tie), National Universities|
|Skidmore College (NY)||86||$67,085||39 (tie) National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Duke University (NC)||213||$66,754||10 (tie), National Universities|
|Amherst College (MA)||135||$66,093||2, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Williams College (MA)||94||$66,066||1, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Pomona College (CA)||78||$64,723||5, National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Trinity College (CT)||164||$64,705||46 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Dartmouth College (NH)||254||$64,516||12 (tie), National Universities|
|Wellesley College (MA)||89||$64,514||3 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges|
|Stanford University (CA)||240||$64,500||6 (tie), National Universities|
Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find financial aid data, complete rankings and much more. Sign up for the U.S. News Extra Help: College Admissions free email newsletter to receive expert advice twice a month.
U.S. News surveyed more than 1,900 colleges and universities for our 2019 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported myriad data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News' data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News' rankings of Best Colleges, Best Graduate Schools or Best Online Programs. The financial aid data above is correct as of Sept. 17, 2019.