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Articles / Applying to College / Is the Admission Process Different for International Students?

Sept. 20, 2018

Is the Admission Process Different for International Students?

Is the Admission Process Different for International Students?
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International students face a (slightly) different path when it comes to the admission process. This can include additional materials needed to complete an application, but it can also mean differences in financial aid when compared to other students applying to the same schools.

Additional Application Materials


One piece most US universities require international students to submit will be scores from an English language proficiency exam, like the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Admission officers want to get a sense that you will succeed in courses delivered in English, even if English is not your first language and if your education was not originally in English.

The importance of succeeding in courses delivered in English means that many schools will also place a greater importance on the college essay, which is another demonstration of English skills.

Besides these two pieces, the factors for admission decisions are largely the same as those for domestic students: grades, test scores and the strength of your high school curriculum.

The admit rate for international applicants is a bit lower than the overall admit rate, and the field can be competitive. According to NACAC's 2017 State of College Admission report, the international student admit rate is 55 percent while the admit rate for first-time freshman students is 66 percent. Of course, the acceptance rate will vary school-by-school and can be much lower in certain schools. As with any part of the application process, it is crucial that you do your research before you apply!

Financial Aid Considerations

International students should also keep in mind that financial aid possibilities might be more limited. No federal aid, for example, is given to nonresident aliens, although schools are free to give out their own grants and scholarships, and while this can sometimes be the case, it is also possible that financial aid may not be available for international students through the universities you are considering. This depends on each and every college, though, so as always, researching your top choices before applying is a crucial element to this whole process.

Checking with all the schools on your list to find out what their filing requirements are for international students is a key step in making sure no boxes are left unchecked. Many colleges will ask that you complete special aid forms designed specifically for international students. Some of these colleges will also require a Certificate of Finance, which is issued by the family's bank and details the sources and amounts of funds available to the international applicant.

Written by

Rob Franek

Rob Franek

College Admissions and Test Prep Expert

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