The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.
Studying at a U.S. college is the goal of many international students. Realizing that goal often means paying the full sticker price for tuition and fees.
International students are not eligible for federal aid programs, such as Stafford and Perkins loans, or scholarships sponsored by state governments. Some schools offer need-based aid to students who are not U.S. citizens, but typically on a very limited basis.
[Learn more about scholarships for international students.]
There is hope for students coming from abroad, though. Nearly 345 ranked U.S. colleges offered financial aid to at least 50 international undergraduates during the 2012-2013 school year, with the average scholarship totaling $17,721, according to data reported to U.S. News in an annual survey.
Some of the top-ranked colleges and universities are especially generous.
Harvard University, ranked No. 2 among National Universities, awarded scholarships averaging $52,578 to 530 international students for 2012-2013. Williams College, the No. 1-ranked National Liberal Arts College, doled out scholarships to 80 international students. The average award was $54,671.
Both institutions are among the 10 schools that gave the most financial aid to international students. All of the schools placed in the top 50 in their respective categories in the 2014 Best Colleges rankings, and awarded an average scholarship of $52,764 to international undergraduates.
Getting into one of these elite institutions is no easy feat. The University of Chicago, which offered the highest average award to international students, had 25,273 applicants for fall 2012 and accepted 3,345.
Admission to one of these schools doesn't guarantee a scholarship, either. Only 57 of UChicago's undergraduate international students received financial aid during the 2012-2013 school year - less than 11 percent of all international undergrads.
Below are the 10 colleges that offered the most financial aid to international students during the 2012-2013 school year. Unranked colleges, which did not submit enough data for U.S. News to calculate a ranking, were not considered for this report.
School name (state)
Number of international undergraduates who received aid
Average aid awarded to international undergraduates
U.S. News rank and category
5, National Universities
1, National Liberal Arts Colleges
3, National Universities
45, National Liberal Arts Colleges
2, National Universities
2, National Liberal Arts Colleges
17, National Liberal Arts Colleges
5, National Universities
36, National Liberal Arts Colleges
10, National Universities
Don't see your school in the top 10? Access the U.S. News College Compass to find financial aid data, complete rankings and much more. School officials can access historical data and rankings, including of peer institutions, via U.S. News Academic Insights.
U.S. News surveyed nearly 1,800 colleges and universities for our 2013 survey of undergraduate programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Colleges rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools. The international student data above are correct as of Sept. 19, 2013.