Financing Your Post-Secondary Education (US-focused)


Key definitions:

Financial aid” is money provided to admitted students to help the student’s family afford the cost of university study. There are two common types of financial assistance typically provided by universities to admitted students:

Need-based” funding is awarded by the financial aid office according to the amount of assistance needed by the family in order to cover the cost of university study. For example, if the total cost of study is USD $50,000 per year and a family can only pay USD $10,000 per year, the aid offered to an admitted student will be USD $40,000 per year. This need is demonstrated by information provided on the financial aid application (e.g. FAFSA), and is not awarded based on academic performance or other talent. 

Merit-based” funding is awarded by the admissions office without regard for the student’s financial need. The award is based solely on merit as demonstrated by high performance, talent, or unique quality. For example, students with very strong grades from school or on national exams, with advanced music or sports performance, or from a specific geographic region, may be offered merit-based funding (also known as ‘a scholarship’). Merit-based funding is awarded to whomever demonstrates this achievement or quality, regardless of the student’s financial need. Typically, merit-based funding will not cover the entire cost of study, so it is important to read each individual university’s financial aid policies and requirements very carefully. 

Financing Your Post-Secondary Education

how-to: for study in the united states
  1. Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)**
  2. Applying for Financial Aid: Creating a CSS Profile
  3. 2021-2022 CSS Profile Student Guide
  4. List of Universities and their Aid Offerings

**NB: General eligibility includes that students should be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or eligible non-residents. For more information, click here.

search engines & scholarship information for international students
  1. Institute of International Education | Funding for US Study
  2. Fastweb
  3. Opportunity Desk
  4. Opportunities for Africans
  5. Best Scholarship Search Platforms” for US Universities
  7. QS Undergraduate Scholarship

  8. International Scholarships for African Students

  9. Scholarships for Development

  10. World Education Services 
  11. Common Data Set Compilation (PDF download) | Financial Aid for Nonresident Alien Undergraduates (for study in the United States)
Fellowships & scholarships for international students
  1. Future Global Leaders Fellowship 

“An internationally competitive program for first generation and low-income students. FGL Fellows become life-long Members of the Fortis Society – the world’s first elite network based exclusively on merit – upon completion of the Fellowship. Current Fellows represent 45 nationalities, speak 42 languages, and attend 40+ of the world’s most elite universities (including Harvard, Oxford, the Russian Presidential Academy, and Peking University). Applicants must be first-year undergraduate students and: (1) Have a strong desire to join the Fortis Society (2) Be the first in their families to attend university and/or low-income students (3) Have a track record of academic excellence and leadership (4) Have limitless global ambition.”