Safety schools for intl applicant looking at poli sci tangent

female, 4.0 gpa, strong ecs, national level sports [in India] etc. my list so far is very reach heavy. i’d really appreciate any good safety (and target) suggestions. would prefer a more liberal state if it’s in US, but i wouldn’t mind recs for Canada or other english speaking countries.
tuition fees below $20k (or equivalent aid) needed.
major: poli sci is what i’m thinking right now. i also plan to minor in creative writing.
thank you so much!
(applying this October. )

With respect to academics, this site may offer you a few ideas for schools to research further:

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For Canadian universities - Memorial University and Dalhousie University will meet your tuition requirements and should be safeties.


What is the total cost that you can afford? Room,food, books, etc can add another 12-20k per year to the total cost.

And the new high cost I just learned about - travel costs. I was at an international tournament last week and learned that airfare from some Asian countries was $7-10k. I was talking to a guy who said his daughter was going to teach in Shanghai and her airfare was $7k, but luckily NYU was paying for it. It has to do with the way they are required to travel (direct, or with stops only in certain countries). You’ll also need to add visas and other paperwork costs to your budget.

A couple of other things:

  • have you secured funds for all 4 years? Example: if you’re saying your annual budget is $20k do you have at least $80k available?

  • you should not rely on being able to get a job in the U.S. upon graduation. So you may want to check that a job in your home country will pay well enough to justify your investment in a U.S. undergraduate education.

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If you qualify for aid then a school that meets need like Dartmouth, Amherst. Both reaches.

If not, U of Arizona will get u close but not there. Liberal leaning.

U of Alabama will get you there. I think you’d be fine as most are apolitical but it’s not left leaning.

That said you are going to learn. And you’d be fine. Both the final two are safeties.

@DadOfJerseyGirl my family’s able to put aside 20k for the first 2 years and partially for the next two, they do expect me to get a part time job or something to support my education as the years wear on. but obviously i’d like to limit the expenses so that i don’t cause them too much trouble - i have a younger sibling. i’ve heard from a lot of others who got through colleges that they actually managed to cut down on the estimated costs a lot just by skimping or going for more cost effective solutions… and i don’t mind doing that.
i’m not looking particularly at any job right now. although i’m pretty set on an education abroad for other reasons, and my parents understand that too. i do want to work in my home country however.
i apologise for the late reply.

Do you have any interest in playing your sport in college? If so have any coaches reached out to you (or have you reached out to any coaches)?

Have you taken the SAT or ACT or any type of standardized tests? If so, what are the results?

Also, most international students are not able to get part-time (or temporary) jobs in the U.S. if they’re in the country on a student visa, so there may be difficulties with respect to earning money to cover your college expenses while here.

To make sure I’m understanding correctly, your family has $20k/year for tuition, room & board for the first two years saved up, and that they’re working toward saving for years 3 & 4. Is that correct?

i’ve not reached out to any coaches, nor have they reached out to me. it’s partly because swim timings in India normally only make lower D2-D3 cuts in the US, and i was unsure of if, when and how i could do so. someone had told me about recruiting videos? i have 10+ state records and national and regional medals in my name and i’ve invested a significant amount of (read: all of) my free time into it. i’d love to keep at it in college, but it’s not my primary focus.
i have a SAT score of 1530: 750 EBRW and 780 math. i took it once using khanacademy’s free prep since my school isn’t a feeder, it’s more focused on indian entrance exams.
ok, thanks so much for informing me about the visa issue, i should have known that.
i don’t know about ‘saved up’ per se. what was made clear to me is that my family would be able to support me to that extent per year but i would be expected to contribute sooner than later. i’ll have to work out the logistics, i guess.

Washington and Lee University offers financial aid to international students and has an excellent political science program. Consider researching it, and reach out to the swim coach (it’s d3).


Unfortunately this approach won’t work. Whatever money your family is able to provide you now is your total budget, and any remaining gap needs to be filled through financial and/or merit aid. You will not get a student visa unless you can demonstrate that all 4 years of your education will be paid for - through a combination of your family’s contribution (based on actual savings, not anticipation of future earnings or savings) and any aid provided by the college.

The only jobs you are eligible for on a student visa are on-campus jobs for a maximum of 20 hours a week. The majority of these jobs are at minimum wage which means you will not be able to make a significant contribution towards the cost of your education through these jobs. They are fine for supplemental income but won’t serve as a major source of funding.

Thus, it appears you need close to full aid and that’s how you should approach your college search.

Look at W&L as @cinnamon1212 suggested.

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You might look at some of the schools like U of Arizona that do have high merit scholarships available to high stat students. Those schools aren’t going to have everything you want (some aren’t in liberal states) but money has to be the most important.

An outlier? U of Wyoming. It has the Cheney school of government and does offer merit. Wyoming is conservative (and then some) but Laramie isn’t, and it is only 30ish minutes from Ft. Collins Colorado. There are also some good exchange programs offered at the school. Look at U of Montana/Montana State.

I’ll throw out an idea out of left field. Start at community college then transfer to a four year. The benefits…

  1. Costs- You will save a lot of $$$ your first two years. You might even be able to secure in state residency and pay in state tuition but you’d need to research that on your own.

  2. Athletics- You might find it easier to get financial assistance for athletics.

  3. A clear transfer path to great 4 year schools- We live in ÇA. My daughter did two years at a California CC and is now attending UC Davis, considered a Public Ivy. The UC system favors CC transfer students. I know of other flagship universities such as UVA, U Wisconsin, UNC (and I am sure lots of others) that actively look at in-state community college students to fill their ranks.

  4. A Supportive Environment- Community College by their very nature are mostly filled with professors who want their best students to succeed and have a singular focus on teaching. It’s a bit of a smaller environment which could make it easier to adjust to a new country/educational system.

Good luck!!!

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This student would need to pay put of area prices for any community college AND find an affordable place to live AND probably get health insurance. I’m not sure community colleges would cost less for an international student when you factor in the above costs, plus food and travel.


Qualifying for in-state residency requires citizenship or permanent residency status. So not applicable to OP.

In some states like CA, yes. Not necessarily true everywhere. And I would not recommend CA to an international student due to the high cost of living.


U. of Arizona doens’t have the same level of scholarships for international students as it does for domestic students. U. of Utah is known as having a relatively easy process for residency, but I don’t know if that applies to international students as well. If it does, then I would take a close look at U. of Utah as years 2-4 could be significantly less expensive than year 1.

I am not very knowledgeable about athletic recruiting, but I would see what your times are for your various events and compare them to the college times to see where coaches would be excited to have you. I would check out D1 & D2 schools (they give athletic money) as well as D3 schools that offer aid to international students (financial aid and/or merit aid…but these will not be athletic scholarships). I’d also take a look at Bowdoin, Harvard, Princeton, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale, Dartmouth, and Amherst to see what their swim times are like (they are need-blind for international students and meet full need). Then take a look at swim programs at schools that meet 100% of need, as support from the swim coach might get you an in (here’s a list of many popular colleges that indicates what percentage of need they meet). You appear to be a very strong candidate, but there are lots of strong applicants for these schools. Your swimming would be a way for you to stand out and get accepted. You may want to post in this forum for more advice about athletic recruiting: Athletic Recruits - College Confidential Forums

With respect to financial safeties, you may want to see this post which has some options you may want to consider: Match me - Intl student from India in need of advice (lib arts interests) - #69 by AustenNut

Do u have a test score ? SAT or ACT?

This was from post #10.

Thanks. Missed that. The budget is small. But and I know everyone hates when I say it but u of Alabama, $28k auto merit so this might be $16k a year including room and board, excluding travel and health insurance. They have the same scale for international.

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