Can International Students Apply for FAFSA?
FAFSA is an application that helps the US government assess the need for student financial aid.
Studying in another country is an invaluable experience for most students. Spending time in another country lets you experience other cultures and viewpoints that you just don't get in your home country. Unfortunately, studying abroad can also be expensive for international students. Varying currency differences and expensive tuition and housing costs can add up quickly. To address that, international students can look for scholarship and financial aid opportunities to help offset some of those costs.
Some of these financial aid opportunities come directly from the school and some can come from nonprofits, but often there's governmental money that's available for students that need financial assistance while they're studying.
FAFSA is an application that helps the US government assess the need for student financial aid. It stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it's usually filled out in the last year of secondary school or the year before attending university.
While there are some (but not many) opportunities for government financial assistance in the US for international students, the approval of FAFSA related federal aid is only available to US citizens, although it is open for permanent residents (also known as residents with a green card). The US Department of Education's Federal Student Aid office has a helpful guide that details who is and is not qualified for student aid here.
Instead of offering FAFSA for international students, the US government strongly encourages students who are studying abroad to look for university scholarship opportunities to cover tuition and housing expenses, as well as work study opportunities, which allow students to work on-campus to earn money each semester.
However, there is an opportunity for international students to use the FAFSA to receive institutional financial aid, which is detailed in EduPASS's financial aid for international students guide. International students can apply for a social security card from the Social Security office, which is necessary for students opening US bank accounts. Once a student has a SSN (social security number), they can fill out the FAFSA application, still noting that they are not a US citizen or permanent resident.
The FAFSA office will reject the application, but will store the application and student information, which can help in the process of receiving institutional scholarships and aid, since many universities and colleges in the US rely heavily on applications from the Federal Office of Financial Aid.
For more information on receiving financial aid for international students, you can check out the excellent guidelines at EduPASS, as well as the National Association of International Educators, and the US Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Office.