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Are International Students Eligible for Financial Aid?

Jon Edwards

Jon Edwards
Senior Director of International Admission

Jon Edwards

Hello! My name is Jon Edwards, and I’ve been working in international admissions at Grinnell College for 15 years — it’s a wonderful job. About one-fifth of our students come from around the world, and it’s my job to go out and find them and bring them to Grinnell. Once here, we do everything we can to help our international students succeed.

International Financial Aid Policies in the United States

Here’s my advice for anyone thinking about attending college: early in the process, sit down with your parents and have an honest conversation about what your family can afford.

How Much Will College Cost?

Most schools in the United States use what we call a need-aware international admission policy — this means that in addition to evaluating your academic and extracurricular credentials, we’ll also look at how much financial aid you will need.

We want to meet your full need, in most cases, and we need to know what that is. Meeting full need means that the institution will cover the rest of the expenses after subtracting your family’s contribution. Typically, the more aid you require, the more competitive admission becomes. This is because colleges usually have limited financial aid budgets, which they need to spread around evenly to accomplish their enrollment goals.

What About Scholarships?

Some schools might offer full scholarships, which you might have heard about, but they’re quite rare. Grinnell offers just a few of these scholarships each year, and they’re again extremely competitive.

In the end, the most important thing you can do to afford college in the United States is to continue to do your very best work in and out of the classroom. That hard work will literally pay off in terms of future admission and aid offers.

What Can I Do to Improve My Chances for Admission?

When we’re considering international applicants here at Grinnell, one of the things I like to look for is the ways the student can demonstrate that they've challenged themselves — that they’ve gone outside their comfort zone. Maybe they’ve studied abroad, maybe they tried something new even though they might fail — and they can talk about that and how they’ve learned from it.

That's what we’re going to ask you to do if you come to a place like Grinnell. It's a monumental life change. If you practice that sort of experience a bit, I think you're going to be more successful here and be able to hit the ground running.

More tips from the experts

Joe Bagnoli

What does it mean to be "need blind" and meet 100% of need?

Joe Bagnoli
Vice President for Enrollment, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid

Sarah M. White, Director of Admission

What does it mean for a college to be “no loan”?

Sarah M. White
Director of Admission

Grace Robertson-Lloyd ’16

Should I submit standardized test scores at a test-optional college?

Grace Robertson-Lloyd ’16
Senior Assistant Director of Admission and Coordinator of Virtual Recruitment

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