Attending school in the U.S. can be very expensive. Unfortunately, international students have little to no access to the financial aid resources--federal loans, scholarships, fellowships and grants--available to American students. Two-thirds of international students are funded solely by their families or other personal resources. If you do not fall into that group your options are rather limited.
If you have a relative or friend who is a U.S. citizen and is willing to co-sign a loan with you, you may be eligible for student loans.
You may be able to apply for scholarships from your home country, but they are usually extremely competitive, and often pose restrictions. For example, you may be required to go back home immediately after completing your course of study, possibly to work some years at a certain job.
You can also work on-campus to supplement your funds, although this is not recommended as your only source of funding.
Search for scholarships and financial aid:
Curricular Practical Training
Curricular practical training is defined as off-campus employment in which a student may participate, because it is part of the educational program in which the student is enrolled. You do not need permission from the INS to engage in this type of employment. Here are some examples of situations where curricular practical training is applicable:
- An academic course in which you are enrolled requires some type of work experience.
- Course credit is given for the employment, even when the course is an elective.
- No academic credit is given for the work,
but it is a mandatory requirement for graduation from the academic
program you are enrolled in.
In order to participate in curricular practical training you must have a designated school official (DSO) endorse your I-20 ID copy with employment authorization and send another form to the INS data processing center for notification purposes.
Note that students who take one or more years of full-time curricular practical training are ineligible for optional practical training. Similarly, however much time is spent in full-time curricular practical training is deducted from the 12-month maximum for optional practical training. Also, you must have been enrolled full-time for at least 9 months (one academic year) prior to engaging in curricular practical training.
Pre-completion Optional Practical Training
Pre-completion optional practical training involves your getting employment (for up to 12 months) in your educational field while you are still a student. Here are some types of pre-completion optional practical training:
- Part-time or full-time work during annual school vacations.
- Part-time or full-time work done while working on a final thesis/dissertation/project.
- Part-time work while pursuing a full
academic courseload during the school year.
In order to participate in pre-completion optional practical training:
- You must have been in valid F-1 status at least nine months (one academic year).
- You must have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the INS before beginning employment.
- You must pay the INS a $100 processing
Be aware that any time you spend in pre-completion optional practical training will be deducted from the 12-month maximum allotted to post-completion optional practical training. Also, you may not begin legal employment until the INS has granted you permission to work.
You do not need a job in order to apply for pre-completion optional practical training.