Studying in the USA

Studying in the USA is not a problem for Green Card holders – they can even save up to 80% on tuition fees! For those without a Green Card, it can be a bit trickier and unfortunately more expensive, but definitely worth it in the end. Read further to find out how to become a student in America, what requirements need to be met and the advantages for completing your studies in the USA. 

Reasons to study in the USA

The unique student-life on campus, a large selection of university majors and well-renowned faculties attract many young people from around the world to the USA. Who has never heard of the Ivy League schools Harvard and Yale? Or maybe you are more attracted to California State University and the idea of spending your free time surfing at the beach?

It does not matter whether you are a fan of the sun or the snow-covered mountains: There are well-renowned universities all across the United States. Students have a wide selection of places and institutions to choose from. Studying in the USA will expand your personal horizon and open the door to many career opportunities. 

Moreover, studying in the USA will give you the chance to immerse yourself in American culture. Not only will get to know the country and its people, but your English skills will improve immensely. Attending lectures and seminars will get easier as your English improves and soon you may even be searching for a word in your native language.

Let’s be honest: Who hasn’t wanted to experience campus life, American parties and lectures on famous American poets?

Requirements to study in America

Potential students should plan about 1-1 ½ years’ time from the initial idea and research to the start of the school year. This estimated timeframe takes applying for the university and for a US visa into consideration. Entry requirements depend on the university, but in general, the following conditions must be met for most US universities:

  • High school diploma or its equivalent
  • A Bachelor’s degree if applying for a Master’s program
  • Proof of English language skills through a valid test like TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge, etc.
  • Enough financial means to cover all costs like rent, tuition, books, etc.
  • Visa for the USA (F- or J-visa depending on stay) or a Green Card
  • School transcripts, motivation letter, curriculum vitae and letters of recommendation
  • Proof of health insurance

USA popular with foreign students 

The USA is famous for its Ivy League schools and rich education system. This is why America is the country at the top of the list for international students. According to statistics collected from the Institute of International Education, the number of people coming to America to study increases every year:

  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
United States 9 548 9 458 9 347 9 819 10 160 10 193 10 145

Many international students are either enrolled full-time at a US university or are part of an exchange program. The most popular fields of study are engineering, business and management, math and computer science. 

Costs of studying in the USA

Studying in the USA is, unfortunately, not the cheapest. In the United States universities and colleges charge tuition fees per semester. Paying these fees as well as the cost of living can be a challenge for some students. The amount you pay for tuition depends on a few factors and it is important to do some research into what options are available to you:

  • public colleges are cheaper than private universities
  • compared with Ivy League schools, tuition at community colleges is significantly lower
  • out-of-state students (students without residency in the state they are studying in) pay significantly higher tuition fees than in-state students
  • The degree you are aiming for makes a difference: A Master’s program costs more than a Bachelor’s program

There are also additional costs to be aware of like administration and service fees as well as high prices for necessary course books.

Studying with a US Green Card – the advantages

As a Green Card holder, there is no need for you to go through the complicated and time-consuming process of applying for a US student visa. Green Card holders have the right to live, work and study in the USA with no restrictions.

With a lawful permanent resident card, Green Card holders can also apply for in-state tuition and in some cases, save up to 80% on tuition fees!

Below are examples of annual tuition costs for a few well-known US universities:

  In-State Out-of-State
Cornell University  $35.483,00   $52.853,00 
Harvard  $43.280,00   $43.280,00 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology  $45.016,00   $45.016,00 
Ohio State University  $10.037,00   $28.229,00 
Pennsylvania State University  $17.514,00   $31.346,00 
San Diego State University  $6.976,00   $18.136,00 
University of Florida  $6.313,00   $28.591,00 

Ivy League schools like Harvard or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) do not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students. On the other hand, Green Card holders can save up to 80% at other universities such as the University of Florida! Doing the research to find an affordable university is literally worth it! 

Picture of Harvard university in the USA

A further plus-point for Green Card holders is that they are allowed to hold a job while studying. Students in the USA with a US student visa are subject to work limitations. In comparison, Green Card holders can work part or full-time and off or on- campus. Green Card holders can benefit greatly from the opportunity to take advantage of the American job market.  

There are many ways to apply for a Green Card, but the easiest it to participate in the Green Card Lottery. The US government gives away 55,000 Green Cards every year in the lottery.

When starting your career, your experience abroad will make you more desirable to future employers. The world is continuing to globalize and intercultural skills are in demand. Those who spend time abroad learn more than just a language, but gain skills like openness, flexibility and intercultural competence which are all valued in the workplace. Naturally, studying abroad is also a very personal and unique experience that should not be passed up!

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Scholarships

All universities have some sort of scholarship program for international students and it is worth the time to ask about your eligibility either directly with your university or the US university. The Fulbright Scholar Program, for example, offers many scholarships to students wishing to study in the USA. It is also recommendable to search for scholarships in your field of study. When applying for scholarships, it is important to start early so that you do not miss any deadlines. It is also important to have all important application documents on-hand.

For the Fulbright Scholar Program, for example, the following documents are required:

  • Electronic application form
  • Personal statement in English including information about your family, academic background, interests, activities, etc.
  • Study objective: What is your academic background? What are your academic aims? What do you hope to achieve in the USA, etc.?
  • Curriculum vitae in tabular form
  • Educational transcripts
  • Letter of recommendation from two educational institutions
  • Proof of English language skills with, for example, TOEFL, IELTS
  • Artistic portfolio (only for applicants applying for the arts) 

Sources:
https://www.fulbright.de/programs-for-germans/studierende-und-graduierte/studienstipendien
https://exchanges.state.gov/non-us
https://educationusa.state.gov/
https://www.uni-pur.de/studieren_in_usa.php
https://www.college-contact.com/usa
http://www.zeit.de/2014/39/auslandsstudium-usa-studieren-master

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