Destination USA: Federal student aid for US citizens

The application is available online through FAFSA

By   |  Published: 5th May 2019  12:06 amUpdated: 4th May 2019  10:50 pm
Deadline to submit online FAFSA applications for 2018-2019 is June 30, 2019

We would like to thank our readers for their overwhelming response to our column series on undergraduate/bachelor’s degree applications published in this space over the last few weeks.

Based on requests received from many of our readers whose children are US citizens and who are interested in sending their children to the US for undergraduate studies, in this week’s column we talk about the federal aid available to US citizens to pay for their college education.

Federal student aid is funding made available through US Department of Education, a federal government body, to pay for college education (both undergraduate and graduate studies). The funds are made available to students through grants, loans, and work-study. To be eligible for the funds, the student must be a US citizen with a valid social security number. It is also important that the student is able to prove their need for financial support. Other eligibility criteria for the aid may be found at

The application for federal student aid is available online through Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – Students or parents may also download the myStudentAid app available on iOS and Android to complete the FAFSA application. To be able to complete a FAFSA application, users need an FSA ID that can be generated at

The deadline to submit completed online FAFSA applications for 2018-2019 is June 30, 2019. It is important to note that the deadlines for each State and college are different and should be checked carefully at

US higher education institutions use information entered in FAFSA to award non-federal aid too. So students/parents should check with financial aid offices and fill out the financial forms at the institutions where they have submitted their applications to apply for aid from that school.

For further information on types of aid, eligibility, and applications for federal student aid available to U.S. citizens, please check the website

Monika Setia (Regional Officer and EducationUSA Adviser at US – India Educational Foundation, based at the U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad).


Q. I am a 2nd-year BTech student interested in applying for MBA programmes in the US. I have heard about GMAT exams. Please explain what is GMAT and how to register for the exams? How important are GMAT scores in the MBA admissions process?


The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is a standardised assessment designed to predict how applicants for MBA programmes and other business-related graduate degrees will perform academically. The scores from standardised tests are used by admissions officials of universities to predict your academic performance in a graduate programme and make admission decisions. You should check the websites of chosen universities to determine if GMAT is required as part of the application for the MBA programme at the institution and accordingly prepare and register for the test.

The GMAT exam measures basic verbal, mathematical, and analytical writing skills. It does not measure your knowledge of business or your job skills. Total GMAT scores range from 200 to 800. For further information on GMAT structure and an overview, please visit:

All tests are available in a computer-based format and can be taken throughout the calendar year at designated test centres. The easiest way to register for the GMAT exam is online or by phone and paying the fee by credit card or debit card. The fee to take the GMAT exam is USD 250.00. For further information on how to register, additional fees, payment policies and forms of payment, test centres, and other related questions, please visit the official websites for GMAT:

Each graduate business school develops and implements its own policy concerning the use of GMAT scores in making admissions decisions. Many schools select students by combining GMAT scores and undergraduate GPA. Moreover, admissions officials may consider subjective factors such as work and other relevant experience, recommendation letters, application essays (personal statements), and reports of personal interviewers.

Q. How many days a student can stay in the US after completing the course work? Is there a prescribed time frame to leave the country? Please provide details.

— Rameshwar Reddy

Foreign students in the United States with F1 visas must depart the US within 60 days after the programme end date listed on Form I-20, including any authorised practical training. Foreign students may request an extension through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website (see the USCIS webpage

Students who are authorised Optional Practical Training (OPT) must have a Form I-20 endorsed for OPT and apply to USCIS for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You may also be able to request a change in your nonimmigrant status to another category if your plans change while in the United States (for example, you marry a US citizen or receive an offer of employment). Visit the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website to learn more. Please remember that it is the student’s responsibility to maintain legal status while in the US. Failure to depart the United States on time may result in ineligibility for US visas in the future. Please refer to the website below for additional information on U.S. student visas:


Every question has an answer. And ‘Destination USA’ will strive to provide the right answer to all those youngsters who dream of studying in the US.
Mail your questions and doubts to to have subject matter experts answer them, right from the degree and programme of study you can pursue to what the application process entails, on universities, how to prepare resumes, financing your studies and even how it is like to live and study in the US, all are welcome.