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While international students don’t qualify for federal financial aid unless they are considered eligible noncitizens, such as refugees or U.S. green card holders, there are a few schools that provide generous awards.
These aid awards usually include on-campus jobs or institutional money from the college or university, since international students don’t qualify for federal student loans.
Among the 451 ranked schools where at least 50 international students were awarded aid during the 2017-2018 school year, the average amounted to nearly $21,200, according to data submitted to U.S. News in an annual survey. But the average was significantly higher among the 10 schools where those students were allocated the most aid, averaging more than $62,700.
The schools with the most generous packages include some of the most selective and top-ranked National Universities, which offer a range of undergraduate, master’s and doctoral programs, and National Liberal Arts Colleges, which focus on undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.
Topping the list is Columbia University, ranked in a tie at No. 3 among National Universities in the 2019 Best Colleges rankings. The New York institution has a need-aware policy. Schools with this type of policy typically consider other factors in the admissions process, such as academic achievements and extracurricular endeavors, in addition to international students’ need for financial aid.
According to Columbia’s website, “We guarantee to meet 100 percent of all admitted first-year students’ demonstrated financial need for all four years, regardless of citizenship.”
Columbia provided an average financial aid award of $66,350 to international students during the 2017-2018 school year. The Ivy League school is also the most expensiveprivate university based on the cost of tuition and fees in 2018-2019.
Harvard University, which charges less in tuition and fees compared with Columbia, offered an average financial aid award of $64,459 to international students in 2017-2018. The Massachusetts institution is one of the few U.S. schools to practice a need-blind policy for international students, meeting 100 percent of demonstrated financial need; a need-blind school doesn’t consider a family’s finances during the admissions process.
The vast majority of schools on this list are National Liberal Arts Colleges, such as New York’s Skidmore College and Vassar College.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are public schools, like the University of Central Florida and Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas. At UCF, for instance, 56 international students received an average aid award of $1,279 in 2017-2018.
Below are the 10 schools that gave the most in financial aid to at least 50 students from abroad during the 2017-2018 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 2017-2018
||Average aid awarded to international undergraduates during 2017-2018
||U.S. News rank and category
|Columbia University (NY)
||3 (tie), National Universities
|Harvard University (MA)
||2, National Universities
|Skidmore College (NY)
||41 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
|Williams College (MA)
||1, National Liberal Arts Colleges
|Trinity College (CT)
||46 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
|Amherst College (MA)
||2, National Liberal Arts Colleges
|Wesleyan University (CT)
||18 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
|Duke University (NC)
||8 (tie), National Universities
|Wellesley College (MA)
||3 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges
|Vassar College (NY)
||11 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges