While Canada has a fantastic higher education system, many Canadian students may choose to come to the United States to attend college. Of course, however, American colleges and universities can be prohibitively expensive, making it difficult to finance a college degree in the U.S.

With tuition costing as much as $40,000 per year at some private universities in the United States, funding can be a challenge for most students and their families. Fortunately, there are options for Canadian students who want to attend school in the U.S.

Look into Scholarships & Grants

As with American college students, the first place that Canadian students should look for financial aid is to scholarships and grants. That is because — unlike student loans — scholarships and loans do not have to be repaid. Students can start by searching various websites for scholarship and grant opportunities for international students.

Websites such as ScholarshipsCanada.com allow interested students to search through more than 17,000 scholarships and prizes for Canadian students that are administered by schools and private organizations.

The Canadian government also provides scholarships and bursaries to students who wish to study abroad; these can be used to help finance an education in the U.S. There are also scholarships that are often available specifically for students attending a particular college or university; many online databases allow you to search by school to find a scholarship or grant in this way.

Contact Your School

Next, Canadian students should contact their schools directly to discuss financial aid options. Many colleges and universities provide financial aid packages to admitted students, which may include some international students.

While U.S. citizens often receive first priority for financial aid packages (which could include work study programs and grants), it is worth discussing the potential of receiving financial aid with your school’s financial aid office.

If a college or university has significant funding or is particularly eager to recruit international students, it may be more willing to provide generous financial aid packages to foreign students. If your school does offer this option, you will likely be required to submit evidence of your parents’ finances (translated into English, if necessary). The school will tend to evaluate your need for financial aid and award a package based on that need.

Consider Student Loans if Needed

Of course, there may be situations where loans are required, particularly for students who are attending expensive private colleges and universities. In those cases, Canadian students may want to check with their government for educational loans before looking to private lenders in the United States.

The Canadian Higher Education Loan Program, or CanHelp, is an alternative loan program that Canadian students can use to pay for tuition at American colleges and universities. These loans are offered by the International Education Finance Corporation, the Bank of Boston and the Education Resources Institute. Students may also be able to obtain a loan to attend college in the U.S. through the Canadian Ministry of Skills, Training and Labour.

Canadian students are not eligible for federal student loans through the U.S. government. However, students can still apply for private student loans if they are enrolled at certain U.S. higher education institutions and have a cosigner with a good credit score who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The cosigner must also have lived in the U.S. for the previous two years as well.

The primary disadvantage of a private student loan is that this type of loan tends to have much higher interest rates than other types of loans, which can make them incredibly expensive. It can also be difficult to find a cosigner for a private student loan, as the cosigner must be willing to take on your student loan debt if you are unwilling or unable to repay it.

Some private student loan lenders do not require a U.S. co-signer; they tend to have higher interest rates than other private student loan companies, but may be an option for students who cannot otherwise obtain a cosigner for their student loans.

If you do have to take out students loans to pay for your college education, just be sure to stay on top of your payments after graduation. If you get behind, you will find yourself falling deeper and deeper into the debt hole thanks to good ol’ interest.

Final Word

If you are a Canadian student looking to attend school in the United States, there are a variety of ways that you can finance your education. From scholarships specifically for Canadian students going abroad to bursaries from the government to financial aid packages from your school to Canadian loans to private loans, with a bit of hard work, you can put together a strategy to pay your tuition and expenses for your education

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Financial Aid Opportunities for Canadians Looking for an American Education

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