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Loans for UK students studying in the US

(29 Posts)
opalfire Thu 08-Jan-15 21:26:18

Hi. My DS wants to go to university in the US but I'm really worried about how to fund it. I've been looking at the Fulbright Commission website and it looks like the UK student loan scheme is for UK students at UK universities and the US loans scheme is for US citizens. So he wouldn't be eligible for either. The total annual cost for fees and living etc is way beyond our budget or savings. I know that some universities have bursaries but we'd probably have a joint income of just too much. Does anyone have any experience of sending DC to US universities and which organisations might be best for loan applications? Fingers crossed!

Kez100 Fri 09-Jan-15 21:48:28

The only person I know that is in the USA at Uni was offered a scholarship by virtue of her sporting acumen. She plays for the Uni team and was/is very good. Her course, however, is unrelated to sport.

opalfire Sat 10-Jan-15 23:57:40

Thanks for that Kez. Unfortunately that won't be the case here. It's early days yet. I think we'll have to head to london for one of the Fulbright seminars.

wannabestressfree Sun 11-Jan-15 00:09:43

I think that unless you can fund it it's pretty inaccessible. Anyone I know who looked or has gone has had wealthy backing or a scholarship. I don't mean to be rude but why America?

opalfire Sun 11-Jan-15 10:02:02

It's for a specific course at specific universities. He is very ambitious. He wants to do a computer science degree and we've been told by several people that MIT and Stanford are the best places to go. I looked at the MIT course and it does seem to offer greater flexibility than some UK courses. I've suggested Cambridge as that seems to have some flexibility and there are lots of start-ups in the area but he's not keen.

He's been doing his bit by getting excellent academics and building his cv with lots of extracurricular achievements etc., the sort of things he knows they are looking for. He even says that he'd be prepared to take on a huge personal loan but I don't know where we'd apply for one! Reluctant to add to the mortgage because we have a daughter too.

Kez100 Sun 11-Jan-15 12:30:06

Thinking about it - I know one other who has also gone to the USA on a funded place (like a scholarship but a different name). He was immensely able and completed his degree here in the UK and then won his place to do his PhD (if that is what they are called) in the USA. So, he went over but not until his was a post-grad.

Needmoresleep Sun 11-Jan-15 12:47:04

Because our education system is so much more specialised than the US it may be better to wait until Masters level.

It would however be worth looking at UCL and Warwick who have lots of study abroad opportunities including in the US. The UCL degree is very well regarded. I don't know about Warwick, but since they are very strong for maths and engineering I assume they are also good at computer science.

Look at Oxford as well as Cambridge. Imperial also has a strong reputation.

Kez100 Sun 11-Jan-15 13:12:28

Every time I have applied for a personal loan I have had to have an income to cover it because you start paying back immediately, so I expect it would be you getting it not him. Also, the interest rate was tiered based on credit rating because it was unsecured - so someone without a credit rating would be stung or fail application.

Most loans are not like UK student loans where you repay at a later date and based on income with a write off later if you don't make it. Other loans require repayment!

It's extremely cheeky but would he have a Grandparent wealthy enough to help - sort of "pay forward" of an inheritance - it sounds a bit of a selfish ask, but some might especially if they share his aspirations and have the spare money.

Kez100 Sun 11-Jan-15 13:16:58

Or, can you borrow to fund him and then prepare a will giving more to your daughter? So that, in the end, you are being fair. If he makes it big (if that's his plan) then he can repay you well before that time comes, hopefully.

opalfire Sun 11-Jan-15 16:50:46

Have just read that MIT offer places on a 'needs blind' basis then have scholarships etc that could be applied for, depending on financial circumstances. He also might be able to get some work at college. Thank you for everyone's suggestions. I think we'll explore any bursaries and see if we're lucky...otherwise he might have to wait for post grad!

Kez100 Sun 11-Jan-15 17:42:21

In that case, there may be some hope. Hopefully over time others will contribute here that have more actual experience.

Mindgone Sun 11-Jan-15 19:32:31

I think I would get your son to write to the relevant department at MIT and Stanford, explain his situation and how keen he is, and ask if they have any suggestions, and whether many others in his situation have managed this, and how they did it. It can't do any harm, would show how keen he is, and he would get his info straight from the 'horse's mouth' without having to pay for a course to find out. That's where I would start, best of luck.

lljkk Sun 11-Jan-15 22:25:24

MIT & Stanford are roughly needs blind; if he gets a place, they will find a funding package (that includes him working term time and in holidays; they would think it very bizarre if he didn't expect to work) that covers his education and basic living needs but not travel expenses. Challenging but not impossible for that elite level. He should expect to earn $4k/yr, maybe 10-15 hours/week in term time, & you will be expected to cough up 10-25% of your disposable income, too (if you are low income, more if not so low).

IF he has what it takes to get in (speaking as a Stanford reject myself). Getting in is the hard part, money not so tough at these types of Uni.

opalfire Mon 12-Jan-15 12:10:18

Thank you to everyone for your feedback. Ill let him try for undergrad but go for post grad as his back up position. Sounds much more affordable!

UptheChimney Mon 12-Jan-15 17:53:45

The other way to go is a UK degree (they are amongst the best in the world actually) with a year abroad programme, spend some time in the US as a year abroad student, paying only UK fees, get a 1st class BSc, then do postgrad work at MIT or Stanford. An undergrad will be one of many as an undergrad at large US institutions. But as a Doctoral student, they have the opportunity to stand out.

lljkk Mon 12-Jan-15 18:12:47

I think USA financial packages for undergrads might be better than for post-grads, actually. PG education takes longer in USA than it does in UK, too.

MillyMollyMama Wed 14-Jan-15 20:10:46

I went to a Fulbright seminar in London when DD wanted to do an undergraduate course in the USA. Her university was not needs blind. For 2013/14 the fees were $20,000 per semester (x 2 pa). It was a four year course. It was then another $20,000 for accommodation and obviously you need air fares, books, art materials, food, living expenses, socialising expenses. In short, you need a lot of money. If you have the money, great. If you have to borrow, think again. The Fulbright seminar has no answers. The obvious one is not to go. You either have to be pretty rich, very clever, or very sporty. DD is in NY at the moment as part of her UK degree course. A masters is far more likely to elicit funding.

The Fulbright Commission have lots of advice on choosing a university and they give you a web site to check if you are eligible for funding but not a single thing applied to us. DD did get a small scholarship from her USA university, and got a place, but in the overall scheme of things it did not make much of an inroad into the £200,000 + we needed. It was also a huge effort to apply and is a serious distraction. We had hoped for a higher value scholarship!!!!

mathanxiety Sat 17-Jan-15 05:32:02

Afaik, the threshold above which you do not qualify for any aid if you are an American student is a family income of $150K. If your income translates to less than this you may qualify for consideration, but I do not know if the same income limits apply for foreign and domestic students. Financial aid is awarded on a sliding scale.

Unless he is a citizen or legal alien he will not be able to get a 'work study' job (or any other job either afaik) while in the US. I don't think student visas allow students to work but I may be wrong on this .

American students who qualify for financial aid mostly receive institutional aid (a direct write off from their university). Students below certain income levels may in addition qualify for federal and/or state programmes. Work study is a federal programme available only to legal aliens and citizens. Other federal aid programmes are Stafford Loans and Perkins Loans (repaid after graduation and with a fixed interest rate iirc), Pell Grant (a direct award of money iirc) and programmes earmarked for certain categories of students like servicemen and women. Many students make their way through university with a combination of institutional aid, federal loan, part time jobs all through university, private scholarships, and private loans. A lot of American parents refinance their mortgages or take out loans. Taking out a loan on the US side would mean having an American co-signer so this is probably not realistic for you.

Some US universities offer generous financial aid (essentially a write off of tuition and/or room and board) to well qualified applicants from outside the US:

Some really good universities here and some I have never heard of. However, I wouldn't rely on lists on the web -- lists tend to be incomplete and sometimes contradictory. Call the financial aid offices of the universities your DS is interested in and talk to them directly.

Postgrad financial aid is harder to come by for foreign students in the US.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 18-Jan-15 08:58:59

Upthechimney mentions UK degrees with a year abroad. I just checked that it still exists and it does the MEng in electrical engineering and electronic engineering at Imperial has a year in industry and one abroad. Some of those students go to MIT for the year. Maybe looking a little outside of the box.

opalfire Mon 19-Jan-15 12:04:19

Thank you all for your ideas. I've looked at the US News article which is very interesting. Somewhere on my late night internet trawls I found a 2008 spreadsheet that suggested Stanford had nothing available for international students. The US News report suggests there might be a possibility. And it looks like Harvard offers support to a relatively large number of students. Our household income is definitely below the $150,000 level but above the Sutton Trusts £40k ish. It is actually very early days as DS is just doing GCSEs but I don't want to end up being late for anything. I think first option might be to see if there is a computer science degree course that offers an exchange with MIT or equivalent. Try to generate some enthusiasm in him! I'll let DS apply to MIT/Stanford (of course he might not get in, in which case my worries would be moot!) but also encourage serious applications to our own universities. Quite honestly I'd be happier having him closer for his first years anyway.

MillyMollyMama thank you for your info regarding the Fulbright Commission. You confirmed my impression from the website which isn't actually that helpful. When I did an MBA donkey's years ago Nat West did a personal loan that had preferential rates just for MBAs. I suppose I was hoping for an equivalent, and that Fulbright would have suggestions but obviously not.

Now to research some courses with an international exchange....

Nolim Mon 19-Jan-15 12:14:01

Math i just want to mention that university students in the us are allowed to work but only on university jobs such as ta, grader, etc. so not at a macdonalds, i am not even sure helping at the library would qualify.

Op: definitely look into programs with exchange oportunities, it coul be very valuable to make connections for grad school.

mathanxiety Tue 20-Jan-15 04:17:44

I think TAs, graders, etc would be postgrads. US undergrads tend to get campus jobs in libraries, cafeterias, doing entry level office work, etc, especially those entitled to work study.

The J-1 summer cultural/work exchange visa might allow your DS to find work in his area in the US for his summers if he ends up studying in the UK. Or he could just work as a waiter, bartender, or in a children's summer camp, and then travel. A friend of one of my sisters got a J-1 many years ago, went to Hawaii, and made a small fortune waiting tables in a bar-restaurant by a beach -- slept pretty much outdoors on someone's roof and was fed at the restaurant.

MillyMollyMama Mon 26-Jan-15 00:14:53

Lots and lots of Universities here offer years abroad. Bristol for example offers Australia for MEng students. Some may well offer a USA university. You just need to do a lot of homework!!! Leeds offer universities in the USA but you need to check subjects.

I think going to study in the USA is over hyped! We know a few people who have gone but they are seriously rich!!! The Fulbright Commission said to us that it was easier to get funding for post grad in the USA but I haven't tested that out. Our DD was offered a scholarship on the quality of her application - our household income ruled anything else out. We also forget that USA citizens have saved all their lives for Uni places. Most people here hate the idea of £9000 pa let alone the costs associated with USA universities.

opalfire Mon 26-Jan-15 16:00:36

Hi MillyMolly, I know US students save and also take on huge debts. I did an exchange and my roommate's debt made my stomach churn! We have actually been saving for years, but in those days fees were £3000 a year. Ah well

MillyMollyMama Mon 26-Jan-15 21:33:54

I know! It is very difficult to make the best decision and make the money go as far as it can. American student debt makes ours look like pocket money!

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