Can International Students get FAFSA?

Every year, thousands of students leave their homesteads to the diaspora searching for knowledge. However, due to prevalent economic hardships, they face deterrence in the way of their aims. Thus, they rely on aid and loans to save the day. In such steamy situations, a student may ponder if he or she is eligible for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Sadly, unless you’re a permanent resident, the answer is no. Among the bunch of things for which international students qualify, FAFSA is a stranger amongst them. Though FAFSA isn’t a positive turn, there’s a bright light gleaming through the tunnel.

Key Takeaways 

Pursuing the scholarly path in a foreign land isn’t easy, especially when strapped for cash. Therefore, several aids exist as a form of assistance. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid goes a long way. International students may wonder if they can benefit from a share of this aid, but the answer is no.

FAFSA is granted only to citizens and eligible non-citizens of which international students do not meet the criteria to qualify. However, this exemption shouldn’t cause despair as international students have tons of educational aids.

Are International Students Eligible for FAFSA?

FAFSA is an application form with which students in the USA check their student aid eligibility. If granted, the aid helps with college payments. Foreign students learning in the US may wonder if such aid applies to them.

The question on the lips of international students is, “do I meet the requirements to qualify for FAFSA?” The answer is no. International students cannot benefit from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid because they don’t meet up to the criteria for eligibility.

So, what are the eligibility criteria for FAFSA? Firstly, the applicant must be a citizen of the United States of America or an eligible non-citizen. The latter is one with a green card/ permanent residency status. An international student is none of these, and it is on these grounds that they lose qualifications.

Other criteria for eligibility are:

  • The applicant ought to have achieved Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  • He or she must be registered and have an authentic social security number.
  • The student should have either a stellar GED (General Educational Development) result or a High school diploma.
  • The student must possess an affidavit showing that he/ she isn’t defaulting on any student loan or owing a Federal grant.
  • An applicant must not unlawfully possess, use or deal in drugs or hard substances. Also, they should be free of any criminal convictions.
  • Male applicants between the ages of 18-and 25 must register under the Selective Service System

Financial Aid for International Students

Apart from FAFSA and federal grants, foreign learners can access other student aid & loans. However, this shouldn’t be much of a challenge as there are other financial aids for international students to use. International students can still fill out the FAFSA form as an act of consideration for a scholarship or state aid. 

Other than state-given financial aid, international students can also apply for institutional incentives. Institutional financial incentives are mostly presented as fellowships and assistantships. However, a scholarship program is also an excellent option for international students. They may obtain part scholarship or be lucky enough to access a fully funded one due to application or merit.

There are also free corporate, private, and NGO scholarships for undergraduate international students. These are some of the financial incentives for international undergraduates & graduates. 

International students must be wary of fraudulent aid proposals, bountiful as financial aid may seem. Always be on the lookout and act cautiously. If an organization requests your credit card number or bank account number, don’t oblige. 

You can visit the international student’s office at your school to verify a proposed scholarship. Do well to safeguard your details and stay away from dubious offers.

Read: Best Central American Country to Live In 2022


Studying in a foreign land comes with many challenges, one of which is finance. As a result, most international students tend to consider processing a FAFSA application, but this positivity is unlikely. Except, of course, the individual in question is a permanent resident. 

Luckily, even without the FAFSA, foreign students can still survive and thrive as other options are open to them. Students abroad could work, take loans, seek scholarships or opt for other financial aid to walk them through their educational difficulties. However, they should avoid desperation to avoid getting cheated.


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