What does "limited funding" mean?

In many college websites, it states that “limited funding” is available for international students. Does this mean they limit the amount of people who receive aid or limit the amount of aid a single person receives?

I am an international student and I unfortunately need full financial aid. One of the colleges that I will apply (which I have a good chance of getting in if I didn’t need aid) states that they provide “limited funding” for internationals, but they also meet %100 of demonstrated need. I was confused what that meant so I would be very happy if you could help!

The answer depends on the school. The best way to find out is to contact the school’s admissions office and ask. If they tell you that they don’t offer full funding and you need it, do not apply.

There are virtually no schools that meet 100% of need for every student category. International students are such a category. Schools do state they meet 100% of need if they do for the standard US, non transfer, undergraduate, degree seeking, non waitlisted, full time, student in a certain degree program. For instance, certain Programs like general studies, weekend college, non traditional students geared programs rarely meet full need , not even at Harvard.

There are schools that do meet 100% of need for all international students. Most, however, are need aware for admissions meaning your ability to pay will be considered when you apply for admission.

If a school says they have limited funding for international students, this means one of two things:

  1. The school provides very limited funding to accepted international students and does not guarantee to meet their full need.


  1. The limited funding the school that meets full need has will only be awarded to a very limited number of accepted international students...meaning that the school will accept a limited number of international students to use their limited funds for that group.

There are only five colleges that meet full need for all accepted international students AND also are need blind for admissions.

If you tell us the college, we might be able to tell you their policy. Or you can contact them and ask.


Here is your earlier thread. Are you still thinking about applying ED to Columbia…and is this the school you think you have a good chance of acceptance?

They are telling you that they have limited funds. That means you cannot expect that you will be fully funded.

** “100% demonstrated need”** does not mean that YOU get 100% financial aid. It means that they will give you what THEY think that you need. Often, it is not full scholarships for international students. With the pandemic, the schools have lost a lot of money, and nothing is guaranteed.

How do you know you have a good chance of getting in? Have you been guaranteed acceptance already?

Yes I know meet 100% demosntrated need does not mean 100% financial aid. But my family’s income is less than 10000$ a year, so I believe colleges would think that I need full financial aid. Regardless of this I know colleges expect a student contribution of a couple thousand dollars a year. I will be able to pay it from external resources, so I don’t mean a complete “full ride”. But my family will not be able to pay a single dollar to the college tuition.

Also, I know that no one can guarantee a place in a college. I said I had a good chance of getting in because I have higher stats than an average applicant to the school. I know stats are not the only factor but I believe my ecs and awards and etc. is also better than the students who got accepted from my school earlier. So its simply an assumption.

No it’s not Columbia. Columbia would be a high reach for me. It’s Barnard. ?

You know what happens when you assume

These colleges routinely reject candidates with 4.0/36/1600 stats. No international candidate that us not an athletic recruit has a “good chance” of getting in

If you are one of the top students in your country, you should apply to some US colleges. But, you need to have at least one affordable safety in your home country, or the EU for example, that you would be happy to attend.

In the US only five schools are both need blind for internationals and meet full need: H,Y,P, MIT and Amherst. The rest of the meet full need schools are need aware for internationals…which means someone who has a high level of need must fill some institutional priority to gain acceptance.

Good luck.

Whether you “believe” that colleges will see your need for financial aid doesn’t matter. If they don’t have the budget, and you don’t fulfill a need for them, (as mentioned by @skieurope) then it’s not going to happen. They’ve already said they have limited funding. The pandemic has hit the universities hard and their endowments have tanked. You’re not a US citizen, so you wont qualify for any funds that emanate from federal (grants/loans/work study) or state funding.

You need to find a safety that you can afford and will accept you.

Did you attempt the NPC to get a semi-estimate of your costs??

Barnard is a reach also. It’s as competitive as Columbia. Any school that is need aware is going to be a reach for you. They will be considering your ability to pay their costs…and you can’t pay anything.

@ucbalumnus can you please comment on this?

Having stats that are above average will not guarantee admission to these competitive schools. International students need VERY high stats to even be in the running.

If a school like Barnard has limited funding for international students, that implies that the school has a limited pool of money for internationals. They will accept only the limited amount of students they can fund.

International student acceptance rates are VERY very low at these types of colleges.

@calmom do you have any info here?

@“aunt bea” the net price calculator will not be accurate for an international student. It won’t even be a good estimate.

Barnard ED acceptance rate 23%, overall acceptance rate about 10%. These acceptance rates are reach territory for domestic applicants.


Would you agree with me that the acceptance rates for international student are far lower?

I concur that the NPC won’t be accurate.
I also agree that international students will have a lower acceptance rate if domestic students are at 10%.

Yes, of course. Probably half?

International acceptance rates are about half the overall rate at top schools. Full-need intl applicant to a need aware school with limited funding will have even lower acceptance rates.

Your stats are fine. What you haven’t shared is where you live. Your application for admission will be reviewed with others from your region. If you are from Tanzania or someplace like that, your stats will really stand out. If you are from India, they won’t.

Even with that, look at the %age of acceptance at Barnard. It’s very low for international students.

Apply, sure. But have some other schools that are affordable on your application list.

Even if the college pays tuition, room and board, you have to think about how you will pay for visa fees, travel and airline expenses, a laptop, books, dorm accessories, and spending money. That’s at least $10,000 worth of expenses that the college won’t cover, even before you even sit down in your first class. Your work opportunities will be limited and restricted on a student visa.

Take your shot, but the other posters are serious when they tell you to have backup plans that you can afford in your own country.