Paying for U.S. Education

The good news is that every year international students receive significant amounts of financial assistance toward their studies in the U.S. According to the most recent IIE’s Open Doors Report, 2022-23, there are 1,057,188 international students in the U.S. including 268,923 Indian students. Many of these students have benefited from the available financial assistance opportunities.

Since U.S. education can be expensive, you should research and consider financial matters. It is important for you to know what costs to expect and to develop a plan to cover these.

Generally speaking, there are four types of funding for study in the U.S.:

  • Personal/family savings
  • Educational loans
  • Funding from U.S. universities
  • Scholarships from external funding bodies.

After assessing your personal and family savings, your best resource for funding will likely be from a U.S. university. The good news is that two thirds of students in the sciences and engineering and half of students in the humanities report receiving significant funding from their university. How do you become one of them? Read our handout on graduate funding and the tips below:

Funding from U.S. University

There are two main types of university-based funding: fellowships and assistantships. Usually both types of funding are renewable from year-to-year, if the student maintains specified academic standards (such as a minimum 3.0 GPA).

Fellowships can be thought of as an outright grant, while assistantships are funding offered in return for services provided to the university - either teaching, research, lab supervision or working in a campus office for approximately 15-20 hours per week. Assistantships are not only an excellent way to fund your studies, but can also be a way to network and gain valuable experience in your field.

The terms of assistantship packages will vary between universities and departments and often depends on the availability of grants for research in the department, the field of study, and the number of undergraduate classes needing graduate-level instructors. As a general rule, funding is more readily available for PhD students and students in a research-focused Master's degree. (Assistantships are rare for students in professional degrees - JD, MBA, MD.) The number and amount of awards varies by subject area with programs in the sciences receiving more funding than programs in the humanities.

Often the process for applying is straightforward and integrated into the admissions application. In fact, it may be as simple as submitting your admissions application by an earlier date, ticking extra boxes on the application and/or submitting a CV and covering letter. Fellowships and assistantships are generally awarded based on academic merit and potential as assessed from your university admissions application. Some fellowships may have niche criteria, based on the donor or department's wishes.

Does this sound too good to be true? Funding is used in two ways by universities. First, it provides much-needed teaching and research assistance at a lower cost than they would regularly pay professors. Second, universities use funding as a recruitment tool. You should take competitiveness of admission and funding into account when choosing degree programs.

Keep in mind the key to getting university funding is starting early and being flexible in short listing universities at which you will be competitive for funding opportunities.

Funding from External Bodies

External funding bodies may include a wide range of professional, charitable or government organizations with a vested interest in supporting further education. Generally, external funding bodies award scholarships or financial awards that do not have to be repaid and do not come with any work requirements as you will see with university assistantships.

Some other external sources of funding that you can browse through:
  • Aga Khan Foundation -- International Scholarship Program: The Aga Khan Foundation provides a limited number of scholarships each year for postgraduate studies to outstanding students from developing countries who have no other means of financing their studies. Scholarships are awarded on a 50% grant : 50% loan basis
  • The J.N.Tata Endowment (Loan Scholarships): The J. N. Tata Endowment awards a one-time loan scholarship to Indian nationals at the beginning of their academic year for full time Postgraduate/Ph.D./Postdoctoral studies/Research Fellowships abroad, in all fields, irrespective of caste, creed, gender or community.
  • Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation: Inlaks Scholarships provide the opportunity to students with exceptional talent in any field to broaden their vision abroad and improve their skills to operate in society, thus making them a future vehicle of change in their environment.
  • R D Sethna Scholarship: The R D Sethna Scholarship Fund grants only loan scholarships to students who are citizens of India, regardless of community, caste or creed to undertake scientific, technical, industrial or commercial studies in India and overseas.
  • MPOWER Scholarships
IMPORTANT: For all scholarship/financial aid related links - check the individual institution's/organization's/program's links to verify current, updated, accurate details/specifications.


For any query on U.S. higher education, call us on our EdUSA toll-free hotline 1800-103-1231 between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm (Monday-Friday)