How do you provide proof of balance when you need money?
May 13, 2012 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Need-based scholarship for international students filter: When you apply for admission at an overseas school, the hosting country requires a proof of balance of a certain amount. When the school offers a need-based scholarship to international students, how do you resolve the conflict between having to have the balance and needing the money?

This is a very specific question, I understand. But when a foreign student applies to a U.S. program(let's say undergraduate), the U.S. government requires a proof of account balance that's enough to cover the tuition(I think 200,000 bucks for undergrad education). But some of these students receive need-based scholarships, not merit-based, which requires grades. If you apply for need-based scholarship, it means you don't have the money to cover the tuition and expenses, so how do you deal with this? On the scholarship essays, they usually also ask for proof of the financial documentation that you don't have enough balance in your bank account.

I would think that if you don't have the money, you'd get a loan, so the balance proof you'd provide is of loaned money, then after you get the scholarship, you pay the loan back? Does anybody have experience with this?
posted by icollectpurses to Education (13 answers total)
Not sure if this will be helpful, cos my experience is limited and involves a different country, but a) contact your school's financial aid office and ask them this question - I can almost guarantee that you're not the first person with this issue/in this situation, and they should be able to help you; b) usually for the visa or equivalent, you would need to provide a letter of guarantee from your institution or sponsor stating what amount of money (or other type of support) they're providing and for what period. The border agency/immigration control website of your destination country should have information about this, but it might be impenetrable and confusing - in any event, start with the university and they should at the very least be able to point you in the direction of correct and useful information.

Sorry I can't be more help (and/or if none of this applies).
posted by magdalenstreetladies at 9:27 AM on May 13, 2012

I would imagine that you would just provide the bank balance information, whether or not it is sufficient.

If you are actually applying to schools, contact each school's financial aid office or admissions office for specific instructions. They are happy to help.
posted by elizeh at 9:27 AM on May 13, 2012

Merit-based scholarships can also be based on need – when I came to France for my last year of university studies, I absolutely needed the large merit-based scholarship I had applied for. Likewise, the balance was not on my account when I needed to give proof of it. I don't recall the exact details, but my university's financial aid office and the French university were in close contact, and both were also in contact with immigration authorities. It was generally agreed that if a student didn't get a scholarship that allowed them to come, they wouldn't come, thus nullifying the issue with an insufficient bank balance. Whereas if they did get the scholarship, they'd come, and everything would be OK. The latter is what happened for me, at the very last minute, but it happened, so I wouldn't worry in your case. In mine, it was back in 1997.

Nthing to contact your financial aid office and ask. Mine was always very helpful. You won't be the first student in this situation.
posted by fraula at 9:53 AM on May 13, 2012

Best answer: The balance requirement comes after you've been accepted and received your financial aid (when you're applying for visas, if I remember correctly from my own days as an international student) - your university's financial aid office will provide the documents you need. You will have to show that you have sufficient funds to cover the balance, after financial aid is deducted.
posted by tavegyl at 9:53 AM on May 13, 2012

... but in any case, consult your financial aid office or office for international students.
posted by tavegyl at 9:54 AM on May 13, 2012

If you're admitted to a need-blind school and you end up matriculating, the tuition statement will only reflect the amount due after the scholarship has been applied. E.g., the tuition is $50K and your scholarship/FA package covers $30K you'll only have to show proof of your ability to pay the $20K. (Take all of this with a grain of salt, parents support me.)
posted by lotusmish at 10:00 AM on May 13, 2012

If an International student gping to a US university has been offered a scholarship (whether merit, need or attached to their program), it will be stated on their I-20 form. My scholarship was stated in full on
my form and fulfilled my minimum support requirement.
posted by jb at 1:49 PM on May 13, 2012

Best answer: It sounds like you are confused about the timing. The government doesnt ask for proof of support when you apply to the program, but when you apply for a visa. To apply for a visa you must have been accepted into the program already, and you would also have your scholarship already, and can use this as your listed support.
posted by jacalata at 3:48 PM on May 13, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for your answers. Jacalata, your answer makes sense, and that's what I figured they should do, but the school is asking for a proof of balance at the time of application submission. This is what's confusing.
posted by icollectpurses at 6:10 AM on May 14, 2012

icollectpurses: my SO ran into a similar issue - he is a UK citizen, and so needed no visa when going to Britain for university, but the university itself demanded that he demonstrate that he had enough money to support himself while there. In that case, the university offered no funding and he was responsible for finding his own (from the colleges and from outside bodies). As it was, he had to borrow some money to put into his account to show that he had "enough", though he did not end up spending that borrowed money (the amount they thought was necessary was higher than a frugal student with cheap housing would spend).

Every university and every program will be different. I would call the International Students' Office at the university in question and ask them specifically how you should handle this situation. It may be that the need-based funding is either restricted, or only available to students who have taken out loans.
posted by jb at 7:59 AM on May 14, 2012

Best answer: It sounds like you are asking about one specific school, and it is the school that is requesting this information with your application, not the government. You should definitely ask them directly: for instance, at the University of Washington, they do not offer any scholarships or loans to international students, and the scholarships available from within departments can to my knowledge only be applied for once you have enrolled which would be after you've received your visa, I assume - so they might reasonably expect you to show that you have the resources to get the visa before they bother awarding you a place.

However Stanford, for counter-example, says "Stanford can offer admission with financial aid to a small number of international applicants a year. Thus, a student's request for financial aid may be a factor in the admission decision. We will not admit a student unless we are certain either that the student is self-funded or that we are able to provide financial aid." So it's possible that they would ask you for this information and expect you to indicate if you couldn't afford it without scholarships.
posted by jacalata at 1:57 AM on May 15, 2012

I know for graduate students at my university, there is no such thing as need-based financial aid for international students. There isn't much for domestic students save work-study now that the subsidized Stafford loan is no longer offered to graduate students. They also won't admit officially admit international students until they prove they can pay their own way. I don't know anything about undergraduate students but maybe this info will help you in the future.
posted by shortstuff13 at 1:14 PM on May 15, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you for your replies. After checking with the school, the embassy and the local immigration office, the need for proof of bank balance is for Visa request purposes. Which is submitted after the admission. Thanks again!
posted by icollectpurses at 9:33 AM on May 17, 2012

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