As we head into 2011, a new year and a new school semester for many students around the world – we are looking forward to a year where we expect international student enrollments to increase even further both in the USA and around the world. As we reported a few weeks back, numbers in the USA are soaring, with China powering through to take the number 1 position from India.
To help you through the start of the school and new year, we annually create a blog post of helpful items for new and returning students – looking at financial aid options, changes in the online world and much more!
International Financial Aid
As the recession took hold in 2009, the options for international students dried up – loan programs closed and generally it was harder for students to obtain scholarships and other forms of financial aid. However, in 2010 there were signs of recovery as a limited number of international student loan programs opened back up and as we head into 2011 we are expecting to see more options open up and become available to students.
The downside, however, is that interest rates and underwriting criteria are still pretty harsh (meaning you’ll pay more in interest, and you’ll need a co-signer with really good credit). Also direct to consumer loans are still no longer available, meaning your school must certify the fact and the amount of your loan each year, so there is a lot less flexibility in the amount you can apply for and the speed with which you can get your loan.
If you want to get all the latest information about loans for international students, the International Financial Aid Blog is an excellent resource and certainly worth following. They post the very latest loan information, and new scholarships on a weekly basis – so follow them. Their posts also automatically appear on the InternationalStudent.com Facebook fan page – so you can find that information there also.
In previous years, there has been the SARS outbreak in Asia and the Swine Flu issue – all of which caused problems for many international programs and travelers with increased scrutiny to and from certain countries. Whilst there is some concern of a new outbreak of the H1N1/ Swine Flu virus in parts of Europe, there are no major issues yet as we head into 2011. Students are advised to take regular precautions and of course, never travel without adequate student health and travel insurance. For students coming into the USA, insurance is a requirement of your visa if you are on the J1 visa, and all schools will require you to have some form of coverage if you are on an F1 visa.
Keeping in Touch
Regular followers of our blog, will be aware of the changes taking place in the communications world. Calling cards are not as popular as they once were as a form of communication – and direction is turning to smart phones, internet calling services such as Skype and purchasing international sim cards. Skype and internet calling services are excellent, and for those with a good internet connection, you cannot do much better than that. However, we are finding most students want mobility – which is where international sim cards can come into play. They are cheap (typically about $30 per card) and offer great calling rates, a local number in the USA (or country of choice) and coupled with an international calling card, they can offer low cost international calls on the go!
Facebook is King!
Facebook is clearly becoming the number 1 choice for international students around the world. The International Student Fan Page has taken off, and with over 3,000 fans (and growing daily) its becoming a great place for all international students to talk to each other, post comments, and join in the talk with students from all around the world. We also still like Twitter, and its a great way for students to find new and interesting scholarships, check out our post on “Using Twitter to Find Scholarships” where we let you into the idea of using twitter to search for information, in this case a scholarship.
We hope 2011 is an excellent year for you all, and you can realize your dream this year, of studying abroad!