An official website of the United States government

Thirteen Steps to Study in the U.S.

So you want to study in the United States? Before anything else, see if you fit the following criteria

  • Adequate English skills (at least 250 in TOEFL CBT)
  • Adequate Finances (a bank statement showing enough money to cover at least the first year of expenses and evidence to prove that additional years expenses will be covered)
  • Adequate Academic Preparation – For admission into a Bachelor degree program: show the completion of 12 years of formal education (FA/FSC, Intermediate), or first year of A-levels (preferable complete A-levels) – For admission into a Master or Ph.D. program:
    show the completion of 16 years of formal education (4 year BA /BSc or or 2 year BA plus an additional 2 year MA, MSc, MBA).

Step 1: Narrow Your List of Colleges


This site has a search tool that will allow you to fill in the specifics of your choice and it then lists the institution or program which fill your needs.


This site also is useful for the search tool it provides, and the list of institutions and programs it then provides to meet your specifications.


This site has tips on how to search for a program or institution, how to apply as well as a wealth of other information.


The Peterson’s site has it all. It has a search mechanism that will allow you to fill in your personal data which will be used to create a list of colleges that are right for you.

Step 2: Search

Go to the homepages, or visit your nearest EducationUSA advising library for more information about the institutions or programs you’ve shortlisted. You also can request a viewbook from the university/college. 

Step 3: Research

Read objective information about the colleges. Visit your advisor. The addresses below link you to a database of college newspapers; hear what the students have to say.


Step 4: Tours

Take some virtual tours. Go to the university’s home page or:


Step 5: Arrange To Take The Test Necessary For Admission

Meanwhile, prepare for your entrance exams. For more information and test preps go to:

Step 6: Prepare For Enrollment By Selecting At LEast Three Appropriate Institutions/Universities

Start applying Request, download or bookmark applications of the universities that interest you.

Step 7: Complete Your Application

Complete your college applications. Request the educational institution you most recently attended for transcripts (marksheets), recommendation letters etc. that need to be sent to universities.

Step 8: Funding Research – I

Collect financial aid information on your own.
(see “http://finaid.org“)

Step 9: Funding Research – II

Home-Country Sources

First, investigate the availability of loans, grants or scholarships from sources in your own country. Possibilities may include government ministries that provide support for study abroad in certain specific fields; non-governmental sources, such as private individuals, foundations and trust funds that give to charitable causes; business corporations, churches and religious groups; or schools and universities (especially those with U.S. affiliations),

The educationUSA advising centers often have information about local sources of support. Because contacts are easier to make and the number of applicants may be lower relative to the number of awards, you may be able to obtain financial aid more easily from home-country sources than from international organizations or from U.S. sources. U.S. government aid is seldom available at the undergraduate level.

Private U.S. Sources and International Organizations

A few private U.S. agencies, foundations, business corporations and professional associations award financial aid in the interest of furthering international exchange. International organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS) may also offer financial awards. Competition for these awards, which apply almost exclusively to graduate students, is very intense. For information, consult references available at educationUSA advising centers, especially for partial awards in your field of study. Do not write to these organizations unless you have found a listing of a particular award for which you might be eligible; these organizations cannot answer general requests for financial aid.

U.S. Colleges and Universities
Most of the limited financial aid for undergraduates from U.S. sources comes from colleges and universities themselves. In some cases, students from abroad compete with American students for limited financial aid.

Step 10: Mail Your Application

Make copies & send out your applications and don’t stress.

Step 11: Decide Whether You Will Live In Campus Housing On-Campus or Off

Alternatives for housing may include residential halls on campus, rented rooms, or furnished or unfurnished apartments on or off-campus. Occasionally students are able to arrange accommodations with a family. Except for on-campus housing, however, most of these options must be arranged after you arrive. (See the booklet, If You Want To Study In The USA, available from the educationUSA advising center nearest you.)

On-Campus Housing

Sometimes separate residence halls are provided for men and for women; in other cases, the residence halls are “co-ed” — that is men and women live in the same housing unit but do not share rooms. Usually two students share a room; single rooms are scarce. Generally, rooms have a bed, a desk, a chair, a closet and sometimes draperies. Students must provide bed linens, draperies, decorations and accessories. Contracts for residence halls usually cover the entire academic year. Often you must pay non-refundable fees in full at the beginning of the year — so you will need to have a large portion of your funds available immediately on arrival-if you have not already paid them with your admissions cost. “Room and board” contracts cover the cost of housing as well as a specified number of meals in the campus dining hall or cafeteria.

Off-Campus Housing

If you choose to live off-campus, you will probably have to wait until after you arrive to arrange housing. The international Student office may be able to help in locating housing, but it is wise to plan to take this responsibility yourself. Some cities have apartment locator services that charge a fee for locating apartments with your specifications.

Options include single rented rooms, with or without kitchens; rooms in “boarding houses” with meals provided at extra cost; shared houses for rent; and furnished or unfurnished rented apartments. “Furnished” in the United States means that basic furniture and sometimes floor coverings and draperies are provided. Bed linens, towels, kitchen equipment and dishes are not provided. Public transportation may be scarce. if you need a car to get to campus, costs will increase dramatically.

Step 12: Apply For A Student Visa

Consult the consular section information on visas that is available on this website.

Apply for your visa as soon as you have received the I-20 or the DS-2019 from the institution you plan to attend, and after you have paid the SEVIS fee.

Apply early so that any questions that might arise about your qualification to receive a visa can be dealt with without delaying your departure.

Note: Neither the Form I-20 or the DS-2019 are the visa, nor does either one guarantee a visa. Be sure that you have read your form before you go to the visa interview and have completed any statements required of you.

For entry into the United States, the institution endorsed on the visa and the institution you plan to attend must be the same.

Step 13: Attend A pre-departure Orientation Session At Your Advising Center

Your eduationUSA advising center may offer programs to give you information about what to expect regarding the academic system, the climate, the culture and other aspects of your life in the United States. Arrange to attend such a program, and obtain the booklet in the If You Want To Study In The USA series, Pre-departure Orientation, which gives further information. The booklet is available at your nearest educationUSA advising center.