15. Financial Aid Applications

Application for Financial Aid (scholarships) is yet another crucial part of your college application. US universities are pretty expensive compared to Kenyan universities. With annual costs exceeding $65,000, Financial Aid comes in handy. US universities have endowments from which they can sponsor students. However, only some of the colleges (see the list we provided earlier) avail these funds to international students. Even so, the amount of aid they can offer depends on how rich the university is, for instance, some schools offer a no-loan package for internationals, while other schools may include loans in the Financial Aid Award. Therefore, it’s advantageous to apply to about 8 universities since admission isn’t the only thing that counts – whether you can afford the school also counts. In fact, before your visa gets approved, you’ll have to prove that you can afford your degree.

There are 3 types of Financial Aid: 1. Need-Based Aid that’s determined by how much the university thinks that your family can afford. 2. Merit-Based scholarships, which are awarded to top-performing applicants. 3. Athletics-Based scholarships which are tied to your participation in a given sport. Of the 3 types, we recommend that you go for Need-Based Aid since you’re assured that no matter what (unless you stop attending the university), your scholarship will only depend on how much your family can afford.

Application for Financial Aid is done through portals like the CSS Profile, International Student Financial Aid Application (ISFAA) or other school specific portals. All these portals will require you to have extensive information about your financial status and that of your parents. Here is the 2016-17 ISFAA for you to gauge the amount of detail needed. Since the questions asked on various financial aid applications are similar, your responses more or less carry over amongst the schools. Although it may seem quite uncomfortable asking your parents about their financial status, you need to get ready to do it because your application is otherwise incomplete.

The documents you will need to acquire so as to prove the income that you report may include: * Your parents’ bank statements over the previous at least 6 months * Statements from your parents’ employer (i.e. payslips) * Tax Returns

The required documents differ from school to school. If a school requests documents that your parents don’t have, write them an email explaining your situation and seek if the school can accept alternate documents.

If the fee for submitting the Financial Aid application presents a hindrance to your family (e.g. the CSS Profile charges $25 for the first school you send it to and $16 for every additional school), email the school’s Financial Aid Office. Explain your situation. They’ll offer you a solution, usually a fee waiver code.

For virtually all universities, if you don’t indicate on your application that you need financial aid, you’re ineligible to apply for financial aid for subsequent years. Also, note that you’ll need to apply for Financial Aid every academic year. Don’t worry that a school will cut short your funds; the annual applications are meant to adjust your aid package to fluctuations in costs and your family’s income.