Cost and potential sources of funding

Students need to provide some relevant documents as proof of finances to the US college/university

By   |  Monika Setia  |  Published: 14th Mar 2021  12:07 amUpdated: 14th Mar 2021  12:32 am

We continue today our discussion from last week on the Step 2 (Finance your studies) of the EducationUSA Five Step process to US higher education for master’s programmes.
As we have discussed so far, Step 2 includes identifying the cost of attendance for budget preparation and source(s) of funding, and subsequently putting together financial documents. We also understood the various resources where students may look up the information related to the cost and potential sources of funding, including financial aid.

With respect to the financial documents, students need to provide some relevant documents as proof of finances to the US college/university. Most US higher education institutions request students to complete a Declaration and Certification of Finances or Affidavit of Financial Support and submit it along with their application. This declaration needs to be signed/certified by the student’s parents or funder (e.g. sponsor, bank, or lawyer). Students should retain a copy of this form as it is also required when the student applies for his/her visa.

Many US institutions usually need to know that the student has funds to support the expenses for at least the first year. However, a few institutions may ask students to indicate their source of funding for the entire duration of the programme of study.  As we discussed last week, if the student is requesting financial assistance from the US institution, they should not wait until they have been accepted into the programme of study to request assistance but rather apply early and submit an application for financial aid along with their application. The university will issue the relevant certificate of eligibility for a student visa only if the student is able to fully document his/her source(s) of income.

The key factors that American higher education institutions consider while giving financial support to students include academic credentials, English proficiency, standardised test (GRE or GMAT) scores, recommendation letters, interest in the programme of study as indicated in the personal statement, and prior experience, especially in research and/or teaching.

Financial support to students may be offered in the form of scholarship/fellowship (generally no work requirement) or assistantship (requirement for teaching/ research/ administrative work on the university campus).

When students receive the offer of financial aid, they should evaluate the offer for coverage of tuition and fees, amount of scholarship/stipend, duration of funding, and job responsibilities. If a student receives more than one offer, he/she should weigh advantages of each offer and make the best decision. The choice of offer should not be based solely on the amount of the scholarship, because it is not the scholarship amount that determines the quality of educational programme.

Overall, related to the Step 2, it is very important that students consider the financial aspects of paying for their master’s programme as early as possible.

Q&A:

Q. I am in 3rd year of my MBBS programme currently. I have heard about USMLE. Can you please elaborate what it is?
Durga Bhavani

Ans. USMLE stands for United States Medical Licensing Examination, and it is a licensing examination required in order to receive a license to practice medicine within the United States. The USMLE is comprised of three different steps that examine the individual’s knowledge of specific topics related to the field of medicine and the application of all of these skills and areas of knowledge in the medical field. Students and graduates of medical schools outside the United States and Canada should apply for the different steps of USMLE by following the instructions at the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) website.

You may refer to following websites to get further details about USMLE:
a) USMLE website: http://www.usmle.org/;
b) ECFMG website: http://www.ecfmg.org/index.html;
c) FSMB – USMLE Step 3 Home Page: http://www.fsmb.org/m_usmlestep3.html;
d) IMED website: https://imed.faimer.org/

Q. We are considering US institutions for undergraduate study for our son who is currently in 12th standard. If he gets admission, how will he select his coursework in the programme?
Afsar Khan

Ans. There are certain required subjects and credits all students must take when studying for a degree. Also, there are required core subjects your son will be expected to take to complete his major. He will have the opportunity to also choose a list of electives. Degree programmes in some subject areas are highly structured, and universities dictate exactly which courses a student must take and when they must take them in order to graduate with a major in that field of studies.

It is important to check the requirements of any majors your son may wish to pursue. There is also great variation between course requirements at liberal arts colleges. Some colleges require students to take a certain number of classes in each of the broad subject groups, while other liberal arts colleges have no such requirements, merely making a ‘strong recommendation’ that students complete a well-rounded education.
Finally, international students must take a minimum number of credits to remain registered as “full time” students in accordance with F1 visa guidance. Do verify and understand the specific information with the US institution your son plans to attend.

(The author is the Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at the US – India Educational Foundation based at the US Consulate General Hyderabad)


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