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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

International conference followup by Matt McGann '00

A post especially for international students: casting a wide net to find a good college match with financial aid.

*Update as of 2015: Early action is available to both domestic and international students.


This past week, I attended an annual conference on international admissions (I attended last year as well). The conference brings together guidance counselors from schools across the world with US/Canada admissions officers who work with international applications. As always, it was quite fascinating; I learned a lot, met some good people, and came away with a few new ideas.

One of the most interesting things to come from this group in terms of information is the international financial aid list [XLS] [PDF]. OACAC‘s Doug Thompson works hard to regularly produce this list of all US schools that provide at least $1 million in financial aid to students who are not US citizens or permanent residents.

As you might imagine, MIT is near the top in terms of total money awarded; on the most recent list, we’re third, supplying $8,628,074 in aid to 261 undergraduate international students (many of the other 44 unaided students come in with full scholarships from their countries or generous large corporations). But, also, as you know, admission to MIT for international students is quite competitive (~4% admission rate last year), so it’s good to apply to a variety of schools at varying levels of selectivity to improve your chances of being admitted to and receiving aid from a US university.

This list can be of great use to all international students who have financial need (and I know most of you do). There are lots of great schools also on the list. Many of them may well known overseas, but most of these schools provide a really top-notch education in a diverse and welcoming environment. Also, due to the presence of large numbers of international students from different socio-economic backgrounds, these are also great environments for US students to look at. Let me tell you more about a just few of the standouts on this list, and how they might fit into your plans:


  • Mount Holyoke College: Mount Holyoke is a women’s liberal arts college in Western Massachusetts. It is part of the Five College Consortium and the oldest of the historic Seven Sisters colleges. Check out its science programs. Their support of international students is perhaps the most impressive of all American colleges. 


  • Berea College: Located in a small college town about 35 miles south of Lexington, Kentucky, Berea is the alma mater of Mitra‘s Dad (not yet as famous as Sam‘s Mom). All students receive full tuition scholarships, and is only open to students who require financial assistance. For those of you interested in engineering, Berea offers a 3-2 dual-degree engineering program


  • Middlebury College: Located in rural Vermont, Middlebury is best known for its foreign language programs. It is also well known for its program in Environmental Studies, the oldest in the nation. 


  • Lawrence University: Lawrence University in Wisconsin, about 100 miles from Madison and Milwaukee, is a small college focusing on liberal arts & sciences. It is one of Loren Pope’s Colleges That Change Lives and features a noted undergraduate-only Conservatory of Music


  • Lafayette College: Lafayette is located in rural northeast Pennsylvania, about 75 miles from New York City and from Philadelphia. Its engineering program is well known, and it offers opportunities for undergraduate research.


…and there are many more where those came from.

The message today is that there are many great universities in the US for international students. I hope that for those of you who are looking to come to the States for university that you’ll cast a wide net — not just MIT, or Harvard, or the other big name schools — in your applications. If you spend good time researching and planning this process, you’ll come away with many good options and a way to finance it. Best wishes!

10 responses to “International conference followup”

  1. Henize says:

    this is really useful to me

    thanks !

    do u have any recommendations about universities which are great in biological science?

  2. Hey Matt!

    Thanks a million for the list. There are thousands of students in India who do not apply to US colleges because they feel that they can’t afford the education there. I was surprized to find out that colleges other than the big name ones offer financial aid to international students. I will definitely pass this list on to my school counsellor. Thanks again.

  3. Jben says:

    These are all no name colleges with limited reputation and appeal to employers outside of there local service area. No doubt they do offer good value but these would be best if you are staying in the immediate area of the college as most people will have never heard of these schools.

  4. Hannah says:

    These are not no name colleges if you ask me. If you haven’t heard of Mt Holyoke or Lafayette, you need to get out more.

  5. Deepta says:

    Hi Matt.

    Since this is a post for intls. exclusively (which is somewhat rare), I would like to take this opportunity to ask a (few?) quick question(s) for your next omnibus. So here goes:

    I know that when I write this, I am voicing a concern of many intl applicants.

    You’ve mentioned in a previous post that schools in most countries put markedly less emphasis on extracurricular activities than those in U.S., which is absolutely spot on. And, over and above this, the depth and breadth of ECs varies from school to school in the same country. So, how would you judge/compare/evaluate applicants who had different levels of exposure (even at times little or none) to ECs opprotunities? A generic answer is “Judging them in their ‘contexts'”, but how do you get to know the individual contexts of thousands of intl. apps? May be ECs aren’t the “deciding factor”, but when the acceptance rate is ~4%, you got to wonder. Or, should we use a supplementary essay to explain our situations ourselves? Furthermore, do you consider activities that are not really school-oriented as ECs, such as computing skills or playing an instrument that isn’t taught in school? One last query is, in many intl. cases, the applicant probably hasn’t had any “Work Experience”, so is leaving that section blank going to harm us?

    Oops, look at how much I wrote. smile Sorry, Matt.

    P.S. I am a prospective student (from India).

  6. Hello Deepta!

    Well I too am from India and am a member of the MIT class of 2010.

    Well, its true that EC’s vary from school/individual circumstances etc, but well thats what ticks. I know friends of mine who are from such interior places but the effort they have given, the way they have put themselves into extra-curricular stuff is just rocking. They get extra credit.

    I believe good universities looks forward to those people who have proved themselves inspite of different constrictions.

    Well I know a guy from Nagaland, who is going to Harvard. You should know how hard it was for him to achive that much.

    Just dont allow life lead you, u should take charge to lead life.


  7. Create your own environment, that what matters most.

  8. At last I can press hope to get to university in U.S.The list you have supplied will be very useful.My question is;in what extracurricular activities areas do you recommend most?There might be some int’l applicants like who have done singing,leadership&community; service.And how about using great vocabularies in esays does this secure more chance of being selected rather than just using simple understandable english?Thanks for reading all this I’m looking forward to hear from you.

  9. gr8 post matt..very enlightening and m sure its going to give hope to a thousand out here..i am from jalandhar , punjab, india and to be very candid.. there is hardly any reliable info u get here..m al charged up for my admissions work after readin this..nd yea i l make sure that i do cast a wide web!! smile

  10. KEnny says:


    May I ask why international students aren’t allowed to apply to EA in MIT?

    I understand this may not change the policy, but I really want to know the reason.