The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs…
The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College, The Short List: Grad School and The Short List: Online Programs to find data that matter to you in your college or graduate school search.
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.
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 expensive private 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.
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 surveyed more than 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2018 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 aiddata above are correct as of Oct. 2, 2018.