EducationUSA | Finance Your Studies (September 2017)

EducationUSA | Finance Your Studies (September 2017)


[MUSIC PLAYING] MR. ALFRED M. BOLL: Good
morning and good evening. My name is Alfred Boll,
and I represent the Bureau of Educational and Cultural
Affairs at the U.S. Department of State in Washington DC. The goal of today’s
interactive web chat is to provide you
with information about current topics related
to American higher education. We want to help you, our
viewers from around the world, come to the United
States to study. Today, we are covering
how international students can finance their studies
in the United States. Later in the program,
we’ll be joined by two experts from educational
and nonprofit backgrounds. They’ll tell you how
to prepare to make college more affordable. If you have questions you
would like to ask our experts and to have them answer
during our program, simply join the Education USA
chat room at EducationUSA.sta te.gov/interactive. Click on Guest at the bottom
of the chat room box to join. You can also post your
questions on Twitter using the #EducationUSA. I also want to welcome a
viewing group joining us from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Thank you so much for
participating today. We will be coming back to
you throughout the program for your questions. I know there are other
viewing groups gathered at U.S. embassies, American
Spaces, and other places as well. Please send in your
pictures to Twitter using the #EducationUSA,
and we will show them during the program. I would now like to introduce
you to Luiz Fernando. He is an international
student from Brazil doing his PhD at
Catholic University here in Washington DC. Luis, what is the
focus of your PhD? And why did you choose to
study in the United States? MR. LUIZ FERNANDO:
Hi, good morning. My focus in PhD is physics
and astronomy basically. And I decided to come to
U.S. because I lived here for one year before. And I left many
network contacts here. And I know that U.S. could
provide me all the resources I need to keep my research going. MR. BOLL: Thank you very much. You also studied at St.
John’s University in New York before coming to Washington. What were some of
the challenges you faced as an
international student when it came to paying for
your university studies? MR. FERNANDO:
Yeah, at that time, I received the scholarship
from the Brazilian government. But even though I have
to pay for my residency, for my food, and
health insurance. So all this came together. And it was kind of different. It’s really different
from Brazilian culture. But you start to
manage your money. And you see everything
has its value. So I think it’s worth it. MR. BOLL: What were
some of the costs that you had that you
didn’t anticipate? I mean, can you talk about– so students have to create
budgets for themselves, right? Were you used to that? Is it something you’d
ever done at home? Are there tactics you
used when you got here? MR. FERNANDO: Yeah, I used
to do it at home, but not for paying my studies. In Brazil, it’s
free universities. So after a while, you start
making some strategies to save money from
here and there to keep your studies going well. There were many things that
I didn’t see coming up. But it was like health issues. So I have to pay here or there. But if you plan ahead,
everything can be OK. MR. BOLL: So can
you give students some specific examples
of your budget of how things worked for you? You mentioned medical care. So do you have
medical insurance? MR. FERNANDO: Yeah, I
have medical insurance. And the tips I can give you– don’t spend all your money
buying electronics and things that you don’t need every day. So every time you receive
a payment or any money, just save a part of it. So when an emergency comes
like health insurance or maybe you need to go to
your country for some reason, then you have that
money on your account, and you don’t need
to have to keep asking for other persons
or any other reason. MR. BOLL: So did you
keep money in Brazil and then bring it over
when you needed it? Or did you move your
money to the United States and open a bank account here? How did you handle that the
day to day and planning for say a year ahead? MR. FERNANDO: Yeah,
in a first approach, I sold many things I
used to have in Brazil. So I can pay for the flight
ticket and the first expenses I had here. But I started from zero here. And the money I had in Brazil,
I almost left everything there, so I didn’t move. But it’s been a year
I’m living here again. So I’m taking the
money from Brazil now and putting my account in
the U.S., but for investment and creating a bigger
budget for me here. It’s just how to
manage the money. MR. BOLL: Right. What were some resources
you used or found helpful during the process? You told me earlier
that EducationUSA was helpful in
providing information when you were a prospective
undergraduate when you were thinking about
coming to the United States. MR. FERNANDO: Yeah, for the
first time I came to the U.S., EducationUSA helped me
with the documentation, translating all the
documents, showed me all good universities
that could fit my needs. And they were really,
really helpful. And the second time that
I came, EducationUSA was there for me to help
to build my application for universities here. I wanted to come back. And they helped again
translating the documents. They showed me where I
could find scholarships and all this kind of stuff. MR. BOLL: And in
relation to finances, how did EducationUSA help? Or what did you do
specifically to look at and to imagine, OK, how am I
going to pay for these studies? MR. FERNANDO: Yeah,
well, I was approved at Catholic University. And after that, EducationUSA
and Catholic University as well told me to look for
some scholarships. And I started
looking for teaching assistant scholarships,
assistantships, and things like this. And I earned a teaching
assistant scholarship at Catholic University
for eight months. So I was teaching and
receiving budget for that. And this helped me. And this is what you need to do. You have to keep
looking everywhere. EducationUSA helped me
to what I need to do, where I need to look
at, and what sources of these scholarships. And many times even
the only awards they give you is give you
the money for teaching or become a research assistant
or something like that. MR. BOLL: So it sounds to me
like it was an ongoing process that it’s never really finished. I mean, in the sense you got
a teaching assistantship. But you then also have to
look for the next year. And you have to make
sure that continues. Is that right? MR. FERNANDO: Yes, exactly. After these eight months end,
I earned a research assistant scholarship. So now, I’m working at
NASA with my advisor. So every year, you have to
keep looking and finding opportunities to keep
your studying going. It’s hard to find some
scholarship that will fulfill four years of PhD, five years. Usually, it’s year to year. You need to find
money here or there or find some opportunities,
work at the university. So it’s an ongoing process. It’s not just it ends here, and
you are safe for five years. MR. BOLL: And
you’re safe, right? So I guess two
questions come to mind. Before you came when
you were planning, did you understand that that
was going to be the process? So did you think, OK, I
can only accept and come to college or university in the
United States based on the fact that I’m calculating I’ll
have this scholarship, I’ll have these private funds,
I’ll be able to work part time? Is that is that how you thought
about it, each little part of financing your studies? MR. FERNANDO: Yeah,
when I was accepted and when I earned a
scholarship, it was clear for me that this was the
way things would go. So I knew I had to work. And the scholarship I had,
it was just for eight months. But the Catholic
University helped me a lot. And the professors
there told me we’re going to find anything for you. After that, don’t worry. We need to keep looking for now. But don’t worry. And after you become a student,
doors start opening for you. You start meeting other people. You start meeting
new institutions. And so you can usually
find other kind of scholarships that is not
available at the beginning. So no. MR. BOLL: No, that
makes a lot of sense. Can you tell us a
little bit more? So professors were
there to help you. Did the school itself? Schools have lots of
resources to help students with financial aid. Did you make use of the school
and the school’s resources in that sense? MR. FERNANDO: Yeah,
the physics chairman helped me a lot to find
my research assistantship. So after the first week I was
at the Catholic University, I started talking
with some professors, finding some opportunities
to start doing some research and receiving for it. And the whole department
was helping me with that. So it’s just a matter– if you
want, you can start looking, and you’re going to find
someone that wants to help you. If you just need to
really want something, go. There’s nothing
that can stop you. MR. BOLL: And so is there
a special department? So of course, you
may not know this. You’re in physics. What about students who are
studying very different things? Do you have friends who are in
a completely different field? Is it different for them? MR. FERNANDO: Yeah,
each department and its school of the
university has its own systems. So I can talk by
my girlfriend now. She was accepted to
Catholic University to do her master in business. And we are looking for
scholarships for her right now. And they have many
kind of scholarships. Each school works
in a different way. So you always have to
go to your department, talk with the chairman,
with the professors and see all the
research they have for you, what we can offer. And usually,
universities let you work part time in the university. So it can pay part of your
fee and tuition working and receive some wage. So it’s different from each
university for each school each department. They have their own resources. MR. BOLL: But when
students are applying, will universities give
them this information about what the possibilities
are, what the issues are? As they’re applying, is
this something that students can ask schools about? MR. FERNANDO: Usually, you have
to contact the schools to get all this information detailed. But if you go to their
websites and search, these universities put it
really clear on their website, these things. But the better thing
you can do is just send an email to the
chairman, to the deans. So they know how the
university works. They know their reality
for that moment. So they can tell you if it’s
a good option to do these or not or if we
have good resources to hire more
teaching assistants, to hire some part-time
jobs for these students. So the first approach,
go to the website. You’re going to find all
the information is there. But the best thing is
contact all the people you can at each
department at school. So you have the best
information for that moment. MR. BOLL: OK. I’m interested about– you
mentioned that you worked or that you’re working. And other students work
in many different jobs. What are some of the jobs that
you see international students doing on campus or off campus? MR. FERNANDO: Yeah,
so our visa only allow us to work on campus. So if we had to
work off campus, it has to be related to our field. So usually, we only
find jobs on campus. But there are many kind of
jobs like work at the library or work in some office
with administrative things, helping sign, print
stuff, jobs that require not that much
knowledge about that. So it’s like the Secretary of
Physics, he’s studying law now. So he’s a student of
Catholic University, and he works for the
physics department. So universities have
all these kind of jobs. And usually, many things
in the universities are run by students. So they can all continue
paying the university. MR. BOLL: OK, that’s fantastic. That’s a great
vision for students to know that there are
lots of possibilities and that universities
support them. Is there any other advice
you’d give to students overseas who are interested in studying
here just before we wrap up? MR. FERNANDO: Well, I
don’t know what I can say. Probably you’re going
to invest a lot of money paying air tickets, visa,
and the first expenses we have here, university fees. But if you want it, go for it. United States is a great
country that can offer you great opportunities. And this investment that
you put into yourself will come back soon. So even if it’s
too much money now, I think in one or two years
you’re going to have everything back and much more. MR. BOLL: That’s
fantastic advice. Thank you so much, Luiz. Thank you for joining
us today, Luiz. If you want to hear
more from Luiz, he will be online in our
chat room at EducationUSA.sta te.gov/interactive. He’ll be available to
answer your questions online throughout the rest
of the program. Coming up next, our education
and nonprofit experts, Elaine Pawlik and Gwen
Thomas will be joining us. They will go over
everything you need to know about financing
your education at any accredited U.S.
college or university. Remember, if you have
any questions or topics you want them to address, please
ask them in our EducationUSA chat room or post your
questions on Twitter using the #EducationUSA. Before our next
guest joins us, we would like to highlight some
of the things we do here at EducationUSA and also
spotlight our partner school for this presentation,
the University of the District of Columbia. We’ll be right back. [MUSIC PLAYING] ATHEER: I’ve heard a lot
of good things about UDC. Given the fact that I live
more than 7,000 miles away from home, I felt
like I’m a part of this big, friendly family. If you want high
quality education with affordable price,
you should apply UDC. The professors, the
faculty, the students will give you just the
right things that you need to accomplish your goals. [MUSIC PLAYING] MR. BOLL: Hi, I’m Fred Boll. I represent EducationUSA at
the U.S. Department of State here in Washington, DC. With over 400 advising
centers around the world, EducationUSA is
the U.S. Department of State’s official source for
finding the right U.S. college or university for your studies. American universities
and U.S. communities value international students. And they are sending a
strong message of welcome through the “You Are
Welcome Here” campaign. Whoever you are and
wherever you’re from, come join the more than one
million international students currently studying in
all 50 U.S. states. I encourage you to visit
an EducationUSA advising center near you today. You can find us at
EducationUSA.State.Gov to learn more. [MUSIC PLAYING] JELANI: I did my
research, and I realized I wasn’t really interested in
spending a whole bunch of money for education. I have a lot of
friends who are going to many different schools. And all of them are paying
a whole bunch of money. And when I talk to them,
their experiences– it’s kind of similar to mine. They’re not getting anything
that I’m not getting. And I feel like I’m
getting a little bit more than what they’re getting. [MUSIC PLAYING] MR. BOLL: Welcome back. Here is a live view of our
interactive nerve center. As you can see, Luiz is online
in our EducationUSA chat room. He’ll be online for the
remainder of our program to answer your questions. I would now like to welcome
Elaine Pawlik and Gwen Thomas. Elaine is an international
student services coordinator and counselor at the University
of the District of Columbia. She has worked in international
education for the last eight years. Gwen Thomas is an author,
educator, and advocate. In 2010, she founded Fresh
Perspectives Seminars, a nonprofit think tank that
provides student seminars and parent workshops
on a variety of topics, including college
readiness, study abroad, and college financial literacy. Gwen is also a youth
speaker with EducationUSA. Ladies, thank you so
much for joining us. MS. GWEN THOMAS: Thank you. MS. ELAINE PAWLIK:
Thanks for having us. MR. BOLL: Gwen,
let’s start with you. What are the five tips that you
have for international students who are planning to come to the
U.S. to pursue their education? MS. THOMAS: Well, they’re
leveraging your college admission. International opportunities
are available for students. When I speak of
leveraging your admission, what are you bringing to
the table as a student? Sometimes, students forget
it’s just as important to interview the college as
the college interviews you. They want to find out
what value you bring. What is the student that is
applying to our college– what value? One day, they want to see
that that student is going to be a great corporate citizen
or make great contributions to the university. So I tell students,
when you think about the universities
you select, find out a little
information about the alumni. Who are the most
successful alumni that has attended at that college? In addition, I talk to
students about making sure that they understand
the international FAFSA. Now, there’s not
necessarily an application that says international FAFSA. But it’s a process, if you will. I tell students in
my seminars when you meet with your counselor
officer at your embassy, they want to know that you
can finance the education. Do you have a sponsor? What forms of monies do you
have to pay for your college education? So it’s important that
they have documents, supporting documents,
not only for the embassy. But the university is going to
ask them to submit the FAFSA form directly to the university,
not to the government per se, the Department of Ed. And so in doing
so, the university wants to find out the
financial means of the student. The other things are
getting scholarship ready. A lot of students,
of course, they want to find out
what scholarships. How much will it take to
fund my college education? Are there full
scholarships available? So there’s valuable
lessons that need to be learned before
they start the process. For example, are you a leader? What things have you
done in your high school career that demonstrates
that you’ve been a leader? Have you been involved
in volunteerism? Have you participated
in any innovative ideas? As a student today,
have you created an app? Already you have young
people that are tech savvy. And they’re doing
work already in STEM. They’re coding and
things like that. So the universities
want to know what kind of student, what value. So when you begin to
get scholarship ready, these universities want to
know what value you bring. There’s tons of scholarships
that are available. There are athletic scholarships. And for example, have you
participated in the Olympics? As a student if you’re
an international student, you have to be registered
with the NCAA as well. There’s documents of course. All that information has to
be transformed to English. But it has to be sent
and records as early going back as nine years old
if you’re a student athlete. The NCAA is very, very
stringent as it relates to that. Merit scholarships– have you
had a successful ACT score? What kinds of things
are you doing as far as volunteerism and leadership? So these are the
kinds of things. It’s not just based on
academic for scholarships. There are tons of opportunities. Opportunities are available
at not just universities, but private funders as well that
are looking for what values. Are you already an
environmentalist as a student? Are you looking to gain
skills in the United States and go back to your country
to make the environment more sustainable? These are the kinds of
things that private funders and universities
are looking for. In addition, there’s tons
of other scholarships like I mentioned. Leadership
scholarships– are you involved in creating a
democracy in your country? So we can talk about
that a little further. But there’s tons
of opportunities that are available. In addition, I’d
like to make sure that I let students know
that not only are there opportunities for
scholarships, but there are opportunities for loans and
other kind of financial aid. And I think my
colleague, Elaine, is going to talk about
that a little later. MR. BOLL: That’s
fantastic, Gwen. Thank you. What advice would
you give students to make sure they get the most
value from studying in the U.S. and also prepare for the
financial realities of life after college? MS. THOMAS: Well
today, students have to think about getting a
return on their investment. One of the things
that is so crucial is students just think in terms
of I want to pick a top school; I want to go to Harvard;
I want to go to Yale. But one of the things
you want to make sure– the cost of a college
education is very expensive. I want them to really put
their eye on the prize. What career do you really want? When you say that you want
to be an attorney for example or you want to be a doctor,
identify other people at that university who
have been successful, who have charted the
path, if you will, in neurosurgery,
things of that nature. Sometimes, students
are vague as it relates to their career goals. They want to find out
at the university, is this a research institution? Is there a professor
here at the university that’s doing the work
that I want to do? It’s OK to reach out to
the professor and say, I’m a student, and I
understand that you’re studying the environment. You’re studying water,
and I’m from a country that we have a low water supply. Or we have to change
our infrastructure– things like that. You might be surprised. That university
professor might have just been funded for research and
may be looking for a student to be able to work in
a teaching assistant or have a fellowship
opportunity. So students have to be creative
when it’s time for them to think in terms of
scholarship opportunities and other funding. And the more creative
you can be, the better. MR. BOLL: That’s
fantastic advice. Thank you so much. Elaine, can you tell
us some of the things that you go over with
international students when you work with them? MS. PAWLIK: Sure, Fred. The first thing I do with
international students who are inquiring about studying
in the United States is to create a spreadsheet. And in this
spreadsheet, you want to put down all
the costs that you might have during your
time in the United States. This way, you can
have a spreadsheet. You can see exactly what
you’re going to be paying and the different
costs for that. So if you don’t want to
download a spreadsheet yourself, eduPASS.org has one
that you can download. And you can download
several of them for all the different
universities that you have and that you are applying for. So keep in mind that when you
are applying for universities that certain locations
and regions and cities of the United States are
going to be a lot more expensive than others. So for example, if you
want to go to a place like New York City, great city
but very expensive to live in. That’s going to be more
expensive than say something more like Little Rock,
Arkansas or Omaha, Nebraska, both of which
have great schools and great programs as well. And it’s going to be
a lot less expensive. So that’s something to look into
when you are first applying for and to take into consideration. Now another thing, once you
have gotten all of your expenses in line and you know exactly
what you’re going to pay, how are you going
to pay for that? How are you going to pay those
bills and things like that? And one of the most popular
things for students to have is a sponsorship. They have a sponsor that
sends them money or sends their institution money to
pay for their tuition and fees and also living expenses– so things like housing,
travel, food, transportation, all these things. Now, when you are
looking into a sponsor, typically it’s a family member. But it can also be a friend, a
neighbor, coworker, colleague, really anyone. But when they’re looking
into sending money, they want to keep
in mind exchange rates and possible transfer fees
from bank to bank, especially with international transfers. They want to keep
that in mind and maybe add that into the
expenses that they accrue on their spreadsheet. So as Gwen was
talking about before, another way to
fund your education are scholarships and grants. Luiz, as before, he
actually did a great job researching all
these scholarships. And so that is another way
for you or for a student to fund themselves here. Like when said before,
tons of opportunities out there for
international students. There are specific international
scholarships that you can ask. Typically speaking, it’s the
institutions that have that. So you want to ask
directly to the institution if they have a
specific scholarship for international students. Also merit-based,
so this is going to be based off of your
GPA and test scores and your performance
in previous schools. And then need-base–
that’s not so popular. And there aren’t a lot of
need based scholarships. But they do have them out there. And again, you’ll want
to inquire directly to the school or the
department for that. Now, when you’re
doing your research into these scholarships, you
can go through the university or you can go, as
Gwen said before, through the private sector. And there are so many
different websites out there for you to look. You can literally just go
into Google or any search and just type in scholarships
for international students, and you will get tons of them. It is a little daunting. But if you put in the work,
you will get that back. And you will definitely be able
to get some kind of funding for that. Now, pay attention when you’re
looking at the scholarships. You want to pay attention
into the disbursement of it. I think you had mentioned
it before with Luiz. Is it a one-time scholarship? Or does it happen
every single semester? Do you get it every semester? Do you get it every year? So that is something
that you want to take into
consideration when you are accepting that scholarship. And also, you want to be
careful of some scams that might be happening. Unfortunately, there are scams. So any organization
that is asking you for your personal
bank information or asking you to
give a sum of money, and in return they
will guarantee that you get the
scholarship, you definitely want to avoid that. That’s not something that
you want to look into. And another one is the
government scholarships. Inquire in your own
government about the different scholarships. Because oftentimes,
they might have some kind of
program for students to study abroad and
in the United States. So you can definitely research
that and inquire that. But with that, you want
to focus on whether or not that scholarship is in
compliance with the visa that you are in. So that whatever visa that you
come into the United States with, you want to
definitely make sure that that scholarship
or any other scholarship is in compliance with
your visa regulations. So one of the other things
aside from the sponsorship or scholarship, I get
a lot of questions about loans, education loans. Generally speaking,
students think that loans are only
for American students or permanent residents. But that’s actually not true. There are educational
loans out there for international students. You might have to dig a little
bit deeper, but they do exist. And so if that is something
that you are interested in, I do highly recommend
that you go to the bank first in your own country
to see if they have some kind of program like that. It might be a little bit easier
for you to deal with your bank back home rather than a
foreign bank in America. So you might want to go
check that out first. And otherwise, if
you don’t have one, there are loan programs
in the United States. We do have those. But typically, you will have
to have some kind of cosigner to that loan. Now, when you’re
looking at loans, you want to focus on things
like your repayment plan and also your interest rates. So your repayment plan, how much
money will you have to repay? And like every single month,
or is it every six months? Do I have to start paying right
away right when I graduate? Or do they give me a
little bit of leeway? These are the things that
you want to look for. And then also the
interest rates– understand that the
higher the interest rate, the more you will have to
pay on a monthly basis. So that’s keeping in mind too. MR. BOLL: That’s
very good advice. Very good advice. Thank you. And in terms of the
resources, of course, EducationUSA advisers
around the world are also prepared to guide
students to those resources that they have to look for. Because it does
sound like students have to do the work themselves. That both of you
emphasize that there are lots of possibilities,
but students really have to promote themselves, make
it part of their application, and look for what’s
out there actively. MS. PAWLIK: Right. MS. THOMAS: Once students
understand the process and they take on the
challenge, it’s easy. Because what happens is
that once you get organized, there’s typical
supporting documents that you need for your
scholarship essay. And you attack that
scholarship essay. I tell students,
for example, make sure you begin with
answering the question. A lot of times, they don’t
dig deep into making sure that they have a
sound scholarship that have clear points. And so once they– I mean, I have students who,
when I hear back from them say, Ms. Thomas, I won
$10,000; I won $20,000, it’s a wonderful feeling. But once they get
organized– and I suggest to plan out their
time as much as possible. It’s OK to practice
scholarship writing. It’s OK to plan out. If you put together
a calendar and you know that that scholarship is
out every year in the month of October and you’re already
planning two years out, you can find out the
kinds of questions, for example, that foundation
of that university answers. So that’s important to
get a jump start on it. MR. BOLL: Elaine, just
one follow up question– are there any avenues
outside of scholarships and grants or loans that
students should look at? Or is that essentially
the main three? MS. PAWLIK: No, I mean,
those are the main three. But there are definitely other
avenues that students can take. And one that I
actually really like and I push for for when students
come and apply to my university is pathway programs. So if paying for
tuition is an issue and your time here is an
issue, a pathway program might be the answer for you. And so a pathway
program would consist of you starting your education
at a community college first, which community
colleges by the way are significantly cheaper
in tuition and fees. And then transfer those
credits into a four-year degree program. So you’re starting out in
that four-year degree program as a maybe late
sophomore, early junior. So in the long run, it’s going
to save you a lot more money. And so that’s a
really great avenue to take for students who
are a little bit worried about that bottom line cost. MS. THOMAS: And in most cases,
you can get a $5,000 transfer scholarship. MS. PAWLIK: Right. Yes, some institutions
definitely have that. Absolutely. MR. BOLL: Fantastic. MS. PAWLIK: So definitely. And some other important tips
that students should probably remember when they’re starting
this initial process– because it is a long one,
and it is a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it– you want to plan
accordingly, OK, to ensure that you meet those
application deadlines, right? So each university is going to
have an application deadline. And you definitely want to
make sure that you are prepared and that you have
everything done in advance. Because the last thing
you want to do is do everything last minute
because that’s just too stressful for you. And then also with
applying for that, keep in mind that admissions
offices at universities have peak and busy times. Typically about a month
before the start date, the admissions office is
running around crazy– MR. BOLL: I can imagine. MS. PAWLIK: –trying
to get everything done. So those emails that
you might send to them, they might not be
answered right away, but they will be answered. Another tip that I have
for all the students is do your homework. Do your research. Like Gwen said, put
in that effort, OK. Because you will find solutions
as long as you do that. And make sure that you
exhaust all resources, whether it’s EducationUSA
or the different departments on the campus. Make sure that you
exhaust them and do all the research and the homework. And I do want to make a quick
little point about employment. Employment is a great
opportunity for you to build skills and
build your resume. But understand that depending
on the visa that you come into the
United States with, employment necessarily
isn’t so easy to get. And on-campus employment
is a great option for international students. However, you are also competing
with domestic students for those positions as well. And there’s a limited amount. So what I’m trying
to get at is just don’t make that the sole
focus of your income. And don’t count on
employment as being something that you can pay all
of your tuition with or your living expenses. It can be an added
bonus, but not necessarily the sole source. MR. BOLL: That sounds
like excellent advice. Thank you very much,
Elaine and Gwen. This is valuable information. It’s now time to go to our
viewing group gathered in Dhaka for a couple of questions. Dhaka, can I ask you, what
is your first question? MS. ALISON RAMUTULA: Hi,
this is Alison Ramutula, EducationUSA Bangladesh. So we have two questions,
one from Nikita and one from Mr. Riyasa. So I’ll pass the mic to them. MR. RIYASA: Should I stand up? Good evening this is
Riyasa from Dhaka. I’m in the second year of my
A Levels now, high school. And I really want to
ask about work study. You’ve already covered it a bit. So what I want to
ask about is that, what are the prospects for
international students? And if I do get to do work
study, how many hours can I put in there? That’s my question. Thank you. MR. BOLL: Thank you so much. That’s an excellent question. So the question is, how
many hours can a student put into work study? And is it really realistic for
a student to do work study? MS. PAWLIK: So work study
is much like on-campus work. It’s going to be on campus. It’s going to be
for the university. And depending upon your
visa, especially for example, F1 student visas, you are only
allowed to work 20 hours a week on campus. MR. BOLL: On campus. MS. PAWLIK: On campus. So it really isn’t
something that– I mean, it’s definitely good
to have that experience. But you don’t want to count
on that to pay for it. MS. THOMAS: It’s not enough. MS. PAWLIK: Yeah,
it’s definitely not going to be enough to
fund your entire education and your experience in America. However, it is one of
those opportunities that you can help to
build your resume. And also, I want to do point
out that work study gets thrown down out a lot, the word does. Federal work study is different
than regular on-campus work. So federal work study is through
the Department of Education. And unfortunately,
international students are not eligible for that. But on-campus employment,
they definitely are. But I wouldn’t bank
on getting that. Or I wouldn’t put
too much emphasis on that in paying
for your education. MS. THOMAS: And I’d like to
emphasize for a moment that students should– if they’re attending
a university, it’s to their benefit to
sign up for work study as soon as possible. Because it’s on a first
come, first serve basis. And I also want to
remind our viewers that it’s important
to continually work with scholarships. Because every year, you’ve got
to come up with that tuition. And oftentimes, students
believe that you only get scholarships going in. They don’t understand that
upperclassmen have the options to get scholarships. Sometimes, they don’t
know that there’s opportunities for a master’s
and PhD candidates as well. So it’s an ongoing process. Continue developing
relationships as you matriculate through college. MR. BOLL: So it is a
little bit different for graduate students
who might be doing things like actually teaching or– MS. PAWLIK: Right. MR. BOLL: Right. And that’s part of the program
versus an undergrad who probably wouldn’t have
those opportunities– MS. PAWLIK: Right. MR. BOLL: –but who
might be able to do 20 hours of on-campus work. MS. PAWLIK: Sure,
in the cafeteria, in the bookstore, the student
center, things like that. Graduate students,
the ones that I see are typically the ones
that are more geared towards their degree program. They’re doing a lot of research. Or they’re doing some teaching
assistant positions and things like that. But yeah, there
are opportunities. But like Gwen said,
definitely the earlier you apply for those, the
better off you will be. MR. BOLL: So apply
early and get organized. MS. PAWLIK: Absolutely. MR. BOLL: Second question
from Dhaka please. MS. NICKY THEROSA:
Hello, I’m Nicky Therosa, and I recently
graduated high school. And I’m currently
in my gap year. So what I mainly
wanted to ask was, what are the steps
I can take in my gap year that will help me save
money and study as cheaply as possible? MR. BOLL: Excellent question. So the question is, the
student is in a gap year before applying, and what are
things she could do in a gap year to take advantage
of the gap year to further her application? MS. THOMAS: Well, I would say
that’s a great thing to do. That’s a great time
to go full time in working on scholarships. I mean, it’s a lot of work. And everybody is not
going to do work. So if she takes the time to
do the work and organize, she can begin to write
those scholarships. At least formulate some
ideas in her mind about– they want to know
typically, why have you selected this university? Why do you want to come
to the United States to study in the United States? What value do you bring? So it gives them an opportunity
to formulate those questions. And I suggest students just
gather as much information as you can about scholarships
and just go down the list and apply, apply, apply. MR. BOLL: So it’s a great
chance to get organized. MS. THOMAS: Yes. MS. PAWLIK: Right, absolutely. MR. BOLL: Is there anything
in terms of substance in terms of an application, not
thinking about financial aid directly, but thinking about
the many things you could do in a gap year that
as an admissions officer you would think about? MS. THOMAS: Visiting the
university if possible. I know that it’s expensive. I don’t know about
International students, but some universities will
give funding for students to come and visit. And that’s something
to at least explore. If I have a gap year,
if in my heart of hearts there was a university that I
wanted to attend in the United States, then I would
definitely invest in trying to find
out if I can attend. Because sometimes, students
have a different viewpoint of what the university is. MR. BOLL: Sure. MS. THOMAS: We want
to make sure if they want to major in engineering
and in a specific engineering, don’t settle a
university that doesn’t have the specific major. Go to the university that is
going to have the specific work that you want to do. And then find out
about the professors and what work they’re
doing and other alumni who are working in those fields. So it gives them an opportunity
to do some research. MS. PAWLIK: And also
volunteering or doing some kind of work
within your major is a really good way,
during a gap year, to make your application a
lot more robust and a lot more pleasing to the
admissions counselors. And then also just
doing some research. And obviously, you have
that plenty of time to do the scholarships. But if you’re from a
country that is not an English-speaking
country, I would highly suggest that you possibly take
some online English courses, especially in academic writing. That is something that students
struggle with when they first come into the United States. The way our curriculum is set
up, it’s a lot of research, and it’s a lot of writing
and research papers and things like that. So you might want
to get some tutoring or maybe take a couple
of classes or whatnot in that gap year. But then also volunteering
within your program to get some experience. So you can bring that experience
back to the university. MR. BOLL: So you link
it to your application. MS. PAWLIK: Absolutely MR. BOLL: It’s one message
that’s coming through. MS. PAWLIK: Exactly. MR. BOLL: Thank you. That’s great advice. It’s now time to
take some questions from our online viewers. We have a question from
the Binational Center in Mendoza in Argentina. Thank you. The question is, what should we
do first to get a scholarship, choose the college
first and then look? Or how should students
think about that? MS. THOMAS: I kind of
think they should probably do both at the same time. Because when you’re
in high school, you’re developing who you are. I tell students, when
you get to high school, start participating in
things as close to what you want to do as possible. So for example, if I want to
go into anything surrounding technology, if
there’s a coding club that I can get
involved in, if there’s an opportunity for
me to volunteer, these are kind of things
that build your resume. These are the kind of things
when you take classes that have rigor, the
universities want to know as well as the people who
give out scholarships. They want to know how strong
of a student, you are. So in the university,
you want to make sure that you’re pairing yourself
with the right university. It’s not always
about the university that has the most valued name. But sometimes the match
is very significant. In the end, sometimes you
might compare yourself with MIT and another college. And in the end when you look
over the period of what you’ll make when you graduate, you
don’t want to spend $200,000 and you make $30,000 as
a salary in your job. You want to look in terms of
how that university is going to help you tap into resources. Do they have
relationships, for example, with certain corporations? So that gives you
time to, number one, look at the university as far
as that college admission is going to allow me to
leverage myself into a job. And then as far
as a scholarship, is that going to also allow
me to develop a relationship with that foundation? MR. BOLL: Thank you. Elaine, anything
you want to add? MS. PAWLIK: To
tell you the truth, I’m not quite sure you should
do one before the other. It kind of depends
on each student and where you are applying. Sometimes, you can get
all of your funding from scholarships from
one particular university, and then you’re set. And sometimes,
universities don’t have scholarships or
grants or anything for you. So then you’ll have to go
through the private sector a little bit more. So it really just depends
on each individual student and where they’re applying to. MR. BOLL: OK, thanks. Our second question
from our online viewers, are there general
merit-based scholarships awarded by either
the U.S. government to international students
or from our home countries to study abroad? So merit-based
scholarships that are coming from a government,
either the U.S. government or especially home
country governments. MS. THOMAS: Well, universities– I don’t know about
their home country. Because it depends
on what country. Some countries will
pay for their student to study abroad, and
pay a full scholarship. But certainly by all
means, universities will give merit scholarships. So I don’t know about
the scholarships as it relates to
other than that. MR. BOLL: It’s not the
government, per se. MS. THOMAS: Yeah. But it’s universities
that have it. MS. PAWLIK: Right, exactly. It’s not necessarily
the government that will reach out
to the students– MR. BOLL: Right MS. PAWLIK: –for merit-based. MR. BOLL: But one
thing I do know is that EducationUSA advisors,
certainly in your countries– MS. PAWLIK: Yes. MR. BOLL: –will know about MS. PAWLIK: Those scholarships. MR. BOLL: –scholarships that
your governments may have– MS. THOMAS: Correct. MR. BOLL: –and are a very good
source of information there. MS. PAWLIK: Absolutely. MR. BOLL: I would definitely
direct students to advisors. So we have a question
from Kigali, Rwanda. Greetings. Thank you. Nice to see you. Is there any financial
support available to cover the costs of
test prep and testing? So if students– of course,
those are costs initially– MS. PAWLIK: Right. MR. BOLL: –that
students have to outlay. There’s costs in paying
for the SAT, TOEFL, as well as application costs. MS. PAWLIK: Right. MR. BOLL: Do any
schools support those? Or is that simply something that
students have to bear upfront? MS. THOMAS: I would say yes. I don’t know of any online. Because if they’re
in another country, it’s going to have to be
an online tool for them to use for the ACT prep. Are you aware of any at all? MS. PAWLIK: No, and
again, if there is, that might be a question
to direct specifically to the university. But typically speaking,
the cost accrued for the test or
test prep, that lies with the student themselves. Now, the application might
be a little bit different. You might be able to ask for
an application fee waiver. MS. THOMAS: Waiver, yeah. MS. PAWLIK: But
again, you’re going to have to inquire with the
admissions department directly to do that. MR. BOLL: OK, thank you. So I’m getting
information that we need to keep our answers brief. Because– MS. THOMAS: OK. MS. PAWLIK: Sure. MR. BOLL: –apparently,
we have a lot of questions, which is great. So the next question
from online, I’m interested in
athletic scholarships. What do I need to do
about securing one? MS. THOMAS: Well, I
talked about that earlier. First thing you need to do is
get registered with the NCAA. And they will guide
you from there. They have a whole litany
of questions and guidelines and supporting
documents they require. MR. BOLL: NCAA. Thank you. Excellent. So from Dorothy in Poland,
are the requirements for undergraduate programs
the same for people that are currently in the
last class of high school and for those who
have already finished and who are already
at university? So is there a difference between
if you’re a high school student and applying or if you’ve
already started university studies in your home
country, but you’re thinking of coming to the
U.S. to transfer essentially? MS. PAWLIK: There could
be transfer scholarships that might apply to you. But generally speaking,
there’s no difference in it. If you’re an international
student coming to the United States for the
first time to study, those scholarships will
be available for you. MR. BOLL: OK, excellent. Thanks. How do I calculate the cost
of study in the United States? That’s a hard one. MS. PAWLIK: That is a hard one. What I would research, 100%
research, like I said before, download those spreadsheets
and figure out the cost that you’re going to have. Some of the costs that you
are going to have to think of, not only tuition
and the fees, which can be found online at
any particular university website, but you’re also
going to have to keep in mind things like housing. On-campus housing versus
off-campus, is it cheaper? Is it more expensive? And then things
like transportation. Public transportation,
food, travel. And what I would
suggest for students who are inquiring about this,
reach out to the university. See if you can get in touch with
another international student at that university to get some
advice and some information. How much do you pay
for food a month? How much do you pay in costs
in travel and transportation? That’s a really good
resource to have. MR. BOLL: And does the
Department of Education have a scorecard that can help
for universities so that where students can look it up? I think that students can
check the U.S. Department of Education College
Scorecard for universities they’re interested in. MS. THOMAS: Yes. MR. BOLL: And that is
also a resource, correct? MS. THOMAS: Yes. MS. PAWLIK: Right, absolutely. MS. THOMAS: And I’m an advocate
to keep those costs down. So that’s why you want
to get scholarships. MR. BOLL: Got it. So an online viewer
would like to know if you have any special
advice for married students. Elaine, is there anything
that universities do for married students
or in terms of finances? MS. PAWLIK: In terms
of finances, no. Dependent upon the visa
that you come in with, if you’re an F1 student visa,
you have an F2 as your partner. Your spouse is going
to be on an F2 visa. Now, they typically
don’t pay for the funding for that spouse. But you will have to have
additional funding for that and be able to
prove that you can support that spouse while
you are in the United States. So keep that in mind, too. But typically speaking,
universities won’t have that. Now, they do have housing. Especially the
graduate housing might have single bedrooms
or single-room housing for married couples to come in. So that’s something
to inquire about. But typically speaking,
the scholarships might not support the
spouses of the student. MR. BOLL: So it’s
a factor that they have to put on their
spreadsheet, right? MS. PAWLIK: Absolutely,
100% a factor. MR. BOLL: So actually calculate. OK, thank you. So I know we have
a lot of questions about how to find scholarships. And let me say that
the first step should be for you to contact
the EducationUSA advising center nearest you. Find center contact
information online at EducationUSA.State.Gov. That’s the best way to
find that information. So we now have a
question from Marini. Can family members already
living and working in the U.S. sponsor international
students for study? MS. PAWLIK: Absolutely. They absolutely can. As long as they have
the funds to do that, they can definitely do that. MR. BOLL: OK. MS. PAWLIK: Anyone
can really do it. MR. BOLL: Anyone, OK. MS. PAWLIK: Family,
friends can do it. MR. BOLL: OK, excellent. So there are lots of
questions about different visa types for fields of study. And of course, anyone
wanting to study has to apply for a
student visa, correct? MS. PAWLIK: That’s correct. MS. THOMAS: Correct. MR. BOLL: Is there
any specific guidance you’d give about the visa? And we have done webinars
specifically on visas. And so would I would
probably direct students to do is to say,
look at the webinars. One of our five steps is, of
course, securing your visa, applying for your visa. And that students could get
information about online at the EducationUSA website. We have a question
from Khalid, who’s asking, what information can
you share about scholarships from medical school and the
requirements for applying? Gwen, is there? MS. THOMAS: Well, you need a
lot of money for medical school. So there are tons
of universities who offer medical scholarships. In addition, there are
private foundations as well. So I tell students
all the time, you’re on the trajectory
in your undergrad already if you’re going
to be a medical doctor. So once you get into
that track as far as working with
the universities, they’ll be able to share
with you other scholarships. But the challenge
is you want to do the work as early as possible. Because once you get
into your residency, you won’t have
much time to spend on sending in scholarships. At least do the work
beforehand and having a list of the scholarships
you can apply for. MR. BOLL: Got it. So look for medical
ones specifically, and make that part
of the process. MS. THOMAS: Yes. MS. PAWLIK: Absolutely. Our next question, I have been
admitted to a U.S. university, but need additional funding
support to cover the costs. What should I do? Are there fellowship or
assistantship opportunities? MS. THOMAS: Did they say they
were in undergrad or a master’s program? MR. BOLL: No, it didn’t specify. MS. THOMAS: Well,
I tell students you have to look everywhere
for scholarships. Everywhere. Whatever their
interests are, find out if there’s a specific
interest they are in in their departments, in
private corporations who do the work that they want to do. I didn’t get a chance to
talk about the workforce. But companies are already
looking for their students. In their human
resource departments, they’re already projecting
for their workforce for students in the next
four, six, and eight years. They’re already letting
universities know and that the
university should be developing a relationship with
the human resource departments. So sometimes,
there’s money to get those students prepared and
even through an internship opportunity and
scholarship opportunities. MR. BOLL: OK, so
I see that there’s another question
about scholarships covering upfront costs. I think we’ve already
addressed that. MS. PAWLIK: Right. MS. THOMAS: Yes. MR. BOLL: Saying that
there aren’t really costs to cover fees– MS. THOMAS: Testing. MR. BOLL: –for GMAT or testing. MS. PAWLIK: Yeah. MR. BOLL: So let’s
go back to Dhaka for one final
round of questions. Or let’s say one quick
question from Dhaka. MR. HAGILA ROMAN: Good evening. My name is Hagila Roman. Currently, I’m doing
research on adolescents. I’m interested in
research fellowship. So my question is, how do I
apply for research fellowship? Thank you. MR. BOLL: So to
apply for a research fellowship in social
sciences, what is the best way to do this? I assume it’s to reach
out to the school itself. MS. THOMAS: Exactly. MS. PAWLIK: Exactly. Reach out to the school. Reach out to the different
professors or the dean or the chair of that department. And they are also not only
involved at the school, but then also in that
field themselves. The So they will know. That would be the best
resource for them. MR. BOLL: OK, got it. MS. THOMAS: And one
thing I want to add, we live in a different
generation now. We have young people
that are blogging. They’re doing research early on. I want to encourage
students to continue to write, continue to blog about
the work that they want to do. And any innovations
that they create, that can be very valuable as
they go through matriculate, and they have to start
developing their dissertation. They can already do
pre-work before that and stay on that trajectory. MR. BOLL: Thank you so much. Lots of advice and lots of
food of thought for students. Unfortunately, we are
almost out of time. Gwen and Elaine, do you have
some parting quick thoughts for our viewers? Gwen. MS. THOMAS: Well, I’m available. My I am a speaker
with EducationUSA. And my book, The
Parents Smart Guide to Sending Your Kids to
College Without Going Broke is available online. MR. BOLL: Thanks. Elaine. MS. PAWLIK: I would just
encourage the students to apply for universities. Please don’t let the cost of
the university and your time here deter you from doing that. It is a great experience. And you are definitely
welcome in this country. And you’re welcome
at these Universities So please don’t
let that deter you. And just start early. MR. BOLL: Thank you so much. Thank you both for your time and
your great advice to students. MS. THOMAS: Thank
you for having us. MR. BOLL: Thank you
for joining us today. And of course, a big thank
you to Gwen and Elaine for being here to
answer your questions and to Luiz Fernando
for your great advice and for helping head our
chat room response team. Thank you to our viewing
group joining us from Dhaka in Bangladesh as well. We also want to thank a
few viewing groups gathered in Havana, Cuba; San Luis
Potosi, Mexico; EducationUSA in Mongolia; the EducationUSA
American Corner in Astana; and the many other viewing
groups around the world. If you still have questions,
go to the nearest EducationUSA advising center in your country. On the web, please see
EducationUSA.info/centers. You can find out more
about studying in the U.S. by visiting the
EducationUSA website at www.EducationUSA.state.gov. There you can find
information on the five steps to U.S. study; locate
an EducationUSA center in your country, one
of 418 around the world; connect with us
via social media; learn about both in-person
and virtual upcoming events; research financial aid
opportunities; and much more. Thank you. And please join us for future
EducationUSA interactive web chats. Goodbye from Washington.

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