Applying to U.S universities can be a stressful experience. To secure a place, you’ll be required to write personal essays, take English proficiency tests and submit scores, request for and submit reference letters, and submit required academic transcripts.
Receiving an acceptance letter means that your efforts were successful. However, the process doesn’t stop there.
An acceptance letter is a green light for you to proceed to the next stage of college admissions: demonstrating that you have financial ability (also known as proof of funds) to cover tuition and other expenses during your study period.
Colleges and universities in the U.S are required to establish international students’ financial ability before issuing a Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status.” This document is required for processing of your U.S student visa.
For your visa to be processed, you’ll also need to demonstrate financial ability to the U.S. Department of State. When entering the U.S, Customs and Border Protection officers might also ask to review your proof of funds—so you must have it on hand.
You must be wondering “What do I need to demonstrate financial ability to study in the U.S?”
Let’s explore everything you need to know to demonstrate financial ability to study in U.S colleges and universities as an African student.
Documents to Demonstrate Financial Ability to Study in the U.S
There are various documents you can use to show your financial ability when applying for colleges and universities in the U.S.
These documents include:
- Bank account statements
- Scholarship award or grant letters
- Loan approval letters
- Employer letters and annual income tax statements
- Affidavit of support or sponsorship letters
- Documentation of investments or other assets
Bank Account Statements
Bank account statements are the most commonly used documents to show proof of funds for university applications and student visa processing.
Savings account statements and certificates of deposit are typically accepted as proof of funds. The bank statements can be either yours or from a parent, spouse, or sponsor.
Typically, universities want international students to show the financial ability to cover at least one year of academic and living expenses.
However, some universities may ask for proof of funds to cover even a longer period. For instance, Cornell University asks international students to demonstrate the financial ability to cover two years of study.
Here some important points to note when submitting bank account statements to U.S schools:
- The statement’s tenure must be indicated
- The statements must be scanned copies with all the required signatures and stamps
- The statement must be from the individual requested (such as a parent or sponsor)
- Typically, statements from savings accounts are preferred
Scholarship Award or Grant Letters
Do you have a scholarship to fund your studies in the U.S?
You can use that as proof of funds to obtain a Form I-20 from the university and for your student visa processing.
If the university is providing you with any kind of financial assistance (need-based or otherwise), they’ll indicate it in section 7 of your I-20 form.
If you’re receiving a scholarship from another organization or government, you’ll be required to attach the official scholarship award letter showing the terms and amounts of the award.
For scholarships from private companies, they may also be required to include a statement indicating that the scholarship amount is available.
To be accepted, a scholarship letter is typically required to indicate:
- Your name as the student receiving the award
- The amount of money available for each academic year
- Terms of support (such as a breakdown of what the award covers in terms of tuition, room and board, fees, living expenses, etc.)
- The duration of the award (including start and end dates)
- The degree and major field of study for which the award is available
- Confirmation that the award at the college or university
Loan Approval Letters
Pre-authorization from a private student loan lender also qualifies as proof of financial aid when applying for universities abroad.
To be accepted, the loan approval letter must:
- Include your name as the recipient
- Indicate the loan amount
- Mention “The Loan of USD x has been fully sanctioned, and all terms and conditions are completed except disbursement.”
- Be signed and stamped by the bank
- Show commitment to pay the given sum (when and how must be specified)
If you’ve received a Loan Capability Certificate, it’s also an acceptable document to demonstrate financial resources.
Employer Letters and Annual Income Tax Statements
Are you currently employed?
You can also use your salary as proof of funds. All you need is a letter from your employer (with an official letterhead) indicating your annual salary. You may be required to include a current tax statement as evidence of financial ability.
Typically, your annual income is required to be around $42000 a year. If you’re accompanied by dependents, your annual income should be around $50,000.
The annual income of your parents or spouse (who isn’t accompanying you abroad), may also be accepted as proof of funds.
What about potential on-campus jobs? While on-campus employment might provide income to cover part of your costs, they do not count when demonstrating financial ability.
Affidavit of Support or Sponsorship Letter
If your parents, a sponsor, or spouse is paying for your studies abroad, you might be required to submit their affidavit of support.
An affidavit of support is a legal, notarized document indicating the individual’s willingness to pay for your studies and living expenses abroad. It obligates the sponsor to bear the cost of your studies and other expenses while studying abroad.
An affidavit of support may also be referred to as:
- Form I-134
- Financial Resources statement
- Undergraduate Sponsor Statement
- Affidavit of Financial Support
- Declaration & Certification of Finances
Documentation of Investments and Liquid Assets
You can also demonstrate financial ability with investments and liquid assets. Some of the most commonly accepted investments/assets include:
- Fixed deposit statements
- Mutual funds
- Property documents
Bear in mind that each university has its own policies outlining which documents are acceptable to demonstrate proof of funds.
For instance, Carroll University doesn’t accept property assessments, insurance policies, and other statements of non-liquid assets as proof of financial ability from international students.
On the other hand, Indiana University—Bloomington accepts investment statements from international students. However, the submitted documents must show clear proof of the funds’ liquidity and the cash surrender value.
Read your school’s guidelines to find out whether investments and liquid assets can help you in demonstrating financial ability.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the minimum amount of money required to demonstrate financial ability to U.S schools?
Typically, international students are required to show financial ability to cover at least one year of academic and living expenses. The amount may vary from school to school.
What’s the minimum bank balance required when applying for an F-1 visa?
The minimum bank balance required for an F-1 visa varies depending on the university you’re attending. Ideally, you should have 1.5 times more than the amount mentioned in the I-20.
Which documents do I need as evidence of financial ability to study in the U.S?
The documents you need to demonstrate financial ability to college and universities in the U.S include:
- Bank account statements
- Scholarship or grant letters
- Loan approval letter
- Employer letters and annual income tax documents
- Affidavit of support or sponsorship letter
- Documentation of investments or other assets
Are you looking for scholarships or student loans to finance your education abroad? Find a scholarship through our extensive scholarship database and compare different loans on the 8B student loan marketplace.