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Financial Considerations for Applying to Study in the United States/ Canada

Application to schools in the United States and Canada can be financially demanding, especially as an international student from a country with a weak currency.


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Application to schools in the United States and Canada can be financially demanding, especially as an international student from a country with a weak currency. The currency exchange rate could be such that $200 is a lot of money for you and your family. An essential step in planning to study in the US/Canada is adequate financial planning. Also, as much as possible, try to take advantage of fee waivers and get the best value for any fee paid. 

The following are factors to consider when applying as an international student:

1.    Standardized Test Fees:

The standardized tests vary depending on the program and their requirements. Some common ones include SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, and Duolingo. Their fees range from $49 and $250. Additional fees apply when rescheduling and for late registration.

2.    Fees to send scores to schools:

Most schools require official test scores, and this can only be sent by the testing agency. While some standardized tests allow you to include a few schools that will receive your scores without any additional cost at the registration, you would need to pay fees to send official scores to additional schools. These fees vary depending on the standardized test.

3.    Application fees for different schools:

The application fee is the money you pay the school to review your application. It varies from school to school, type of student (domestic or international), and the degree or program of interest, i.e., Undergraduate, graduate certificate, graduate (master’s and Ph.D.). Some universities could offer fee waivers, which you can request via email or qualify for by meeting specific requirements. Some schools also have free applications or weeks where they waive costs. Application fees can be as low as $30 and as high as $100+.

4.    Fees to send and appraise transcripts/ certificates:

Some schools require evaluation of international transcripts by an accredited evaluation agency that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services like World Education Services (WES), which is the most common/accepted. This is done to ensure international students’ credentials are evaluated using similar criteria with domestic students. These agencies charge a fee to evaluate and send transcripts to prospective schools.

5.    Visa application fees:

Student visa application fees vary depending on the country. The US charges $160, and Canada charges about CAD 150. It is invalid after one application. You will also need an international passport to apply for a visa.

6.    International travel fees (e.g., flight tickets):

Flight ticket prices vary on location, travel class, airline, time of booking. To get the best price for your intended flight, book as early as possible.

7.    Travel preparation fees- miscellaneous:

Once your visa has been issued, the next step is to get ready for your trip. Some people buy food or clothing items. For the ladies, wigs and extensions may also be necessary. Avoid overspending  and only focus on immediate essentials

8.    Pocket money to settle down and start life before an on-campus job:

The cost of living differs from state to state and even in cities located in a state. When deciding on the amount of money you need to travel with or wired in advance, these should be considered—costs like accommodation, food, books, living essentials, etc.

This post is an overview of what you should consider in the application process. It doesn’t include actual education expenses, which could either come from you (or your sponsor) or could be paid for by scholarships, fellowships, or assistantships.

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