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How Do UK Students Apply for Financial Aid at a US University?

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

Despite tuition and board fees being much higher than that of the UK's (Harvard's tuition fees for example are around £37600 year compared to the UK's standard £9250 a year), studying in the US can be a more affordable choice - even for UK students. Many of the top US universities offer hefty financial aid packages and some even have need-blind admissions for international students.

click here to learn more about need blind admissions

For UK students at English universities, tuition fees are £9,250 (~US$13,050) per year. The Student Finance system here in the UK is a government organisation which offers loans and grants to students to help them pay for university - tuition fees are paid for directly by the government to the university on your behalf and your living allowance (maintenance loan) is deposited into the student's bank account. Individual universities may also offer their own bursaries on top of this.

In the US, tuition fees vary college by college and each college has their own student finance departments. For US universities, applicants must declare whether or not they are applying for financial aid at each individual university's application. If you are a UK citizen applying for financial aid at a US university you will need to complete a CSS Profile which is the platform colleges use to determine how much financial aid you are eligible for. The FAFSA is the US's version of Student Finance and does not apply to international students - UK students do not need to complete the FAFSA.

The CSS Profile collects information on your household income, assets, property and expenditure and colleges use this information to figure out how much financial aid you are eligible for. Here's how to apply:

1. Sign in to the CSS Profile

Sign into the CSS Profile at using your CollegeBoard login details (if you don't have a CollegeBoard account there will be an option to make one).

CSS Profile Log in
Click the 'sign in' which corresponds to the first-year cohort you are applying to be a part of

2. Fill out the form

As you answer questions, the system builds up an application tailored to your circumstances. CollegeBoard provides online help and edits to guide you as you complete it and video tutorials can be accessed here. You do not need to complete the application in one sitting; save your application and return to complete it at any time before the deadline.

3. Submit payment for the CSS Profile

Once you have completed your form you will be prompted to submit a payment - the CSS Profile is $25 plus $16 per additional school you apply to. There are no fee waivers for international students.

4. Some colleges will require you to complete the IDOC

This platform is an extension of the CSS Profile and is used to process paperwork from applicants such as tax returns and and bank statements. You will get access to your IDOC portal shortly after submitting the CSS profile. UK students can usually access their financial statements from the website.

Final tips from us:

  • The CSS profile website is prone to crashing - to reduce the hassle of filling everything out again we recommend taking screenshots as you go so that you can quickly re-fill the form out if you need to.

  • Start early - it can be difficult to get all your financial information ready from your family members so start early to reduce the stress. It also takes some time for colleges to process the IDOC so starting earlier will ensure that you meet the deadline.

  • Have your bank statements, and your families P60/P40 reports at hand as it will make it much easier to fill the form out.

  • Save a copy of your application and keep organised - if you're accepted into a US university, you will need to apply for financial aid every year.


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