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Articles / Admissions / Is U.S. Citizen Abroad an International Student?

April 28, 2020

Is U.S. Citizen Abroad an International Student?

Question: Does my daughter count as an international student if she completes highschool outside US? She was born in US but both parents are not us citizens nor have ever paid any taxes or worked in the states. Also is she eligible for financial aid and loans?


Colleges have varying policies when, for their own “head count" purposes, they decide if a candidate in your daughter's situation will be viewed as an international applicant or as a domestic one (a U.S. citizen living abroad). However, for FINANCIAL AID purposes (critical for many families), your daughter would be considered a DOMESTIC applicant. In other words, because she is a U.S. citizen, she will be eligible for Federal financial aid (if your income and assets qualify) and/or for Federal loans. The fact that her parents are not citizens and that she, herself, lives abroad will not affect your daughter's eligibility for Federal assistance as long as she—the applicant—is a citizen.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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