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Scoring Scholarships and Financial Aid for Student Snowbirds


Post-secondary education in Canada is extremely affordable compared to that of our American neighbours. If you are hoping to attend a university or college in the US, you will have to rely heavily on loans and scholarships to pay your tuition and living expenses. Do not expect to be able to finance your study by working while studying in the United States. You may be surprised to find out that you will be considered an International student and that means because of Visa restrictions, you may not be able to work while going to school unless it's on campus. Working in the United States is sometimes possible later in your education but U.S. Customs and Immigration Services' regulations prohibit international students from working off-campus in their first year.

In addition to those restrictions, some US schools require you to prove your sources of funding before you can be accepted. While it's a big hurdle to conquer, it's not impossible. All qualified Canadian students, regardless of family financial circumstances should be able to attend a US school. Various sources of financial aid do exist specifically for Canadian students wanting to study in the United States however you may need to combine several sources of funding to fully finance your education.

Private organizations, foundations, and international agencies may offer scholarships, grants, and other financial aid to Canadian students studying in the US. Some scholarships and grants are available only to students applying from their home country so be sure you have left no stone unturned in your search for funding and read the qualifications closely.

Direct exchange programs between a Canadian university and a U.S. institution may waive part or even all of your tuition as an International student. This is helpful if you are looking at starting your studies in your own country and transferring part way through. (See the article on Transfer credits for more helpful information.) In some special cases, Canadian students are allowed to pay the same tuition amount as Americans or domestic students.

In 1998, the Canadian Higher Education Loan Program (CanHELP) was developed to provide funding for Canadian students enrolled in US colleges and universities. According to their website, the CanHELP loan program is now available at more than 3,000 approved schools in the US, Canada and abroad.

CanHELP is a credit-based loan that requires applicants to be Canadian citizens and have a satisfactory credit history. They suggest that the majority of undergraduate applicants will require a creditworthy co-signer who is also a Canadian citizen. These co-signers must have an established satisfactory credit history, be employed or have sufficient income to meet current liabilities, have a stable residency, as well as a stable employment history.

The CanHELP loan application is then mailed to The Education Resources Institute (TERI) who then determines the credit worthiness of the borrower and co-borrower. A credit report is obtained for both parties and a decision is made for approval. If a loan application is denied, the student may appeal the decision and/or resolve their credit situation so that the application may be approved. Students take out the loan one year at a time, for up to a twelve month period.

The Paperwork
Some colleges, universities, and U.S. consulates require foreign students to provide verification of funding for the entire planned period of study. Others will only require proof of funding for the first year. Start your funding research early. Be sure to investigate all possible sources of funding within Canada as well, to ensure you are not missing out on any opportunities.

An incomplete, poorly written, late or messy application could cause your request to be rejected. Plan ahead, prepare carefully, and follow the instructions. Take the time to prepare your documents and send your complete application, including application fee, transcripts, standardized test results and any other requested material well ahead of the International student deadline.

According to a report published by the Institute of International Education, the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States, 67% of all international students receive the majority of their funds from family and personal sources. When other sources of funding from the students' home countries, including assistance from their home country governments or universities are added in, a total of nearly 75% of all international student funding comes from sources outside of the US.

Tuition is only one expense of studying in the US. Others include:

� Application fees
� Standardized test fees
� Travel expenses
� Living costs
� Meals
� Books and supplies
� Health insurance
� Entertainment expenses

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