What You Need to Know About Online Colleges as an International Student - Forbes Advisors

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International students can enroll in online US programs to expand their educational options, save money, and add flexibility to their studies. However, learners from other countries who want to study in the United States must meet strict requirements, especially amid her COVID-19 pandemic.

Online education for international students offers great benefits to international students. This guide covers online programs for international students, including visas, credit requirements, online program benefits, and tuition fees.

Things to consider when looking for an online university

With so many options for international students considering online colleges, the process can seem overwhelming. As you research your future school, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you offer online programs for international students?

If you find a US school that offers online learning, make sure it offers a program for international students. For example, international learners cannot enroll in 100% online programs based in the United States, but are permitted to enroll in hybrid courses.

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, international students could only enroll in one online class per semester. However, starting March 2020, the U.S. government has relaxed this restriction to allow international students to participate in hybrid learning.

Can you get your work done 100% online or is it a hybrid?

International students cannot complete a full online program at a US institution. However, you can enroll in a hybrid program that combines online and face-to-face learning. Registrants have several options for completing the hybrid program, including attending courses with local partner institutions.

How much is the tuition fee for international students?

Tuition fees depend on whether the school is public or private and whether the student has an undergraduate or postgraduate education. US schools may allow international students to pay in-state tuition. This is usually less expensive than out-of-state tuition.

On average, international students pay annual tuition fees of $25,000 to $35,000 in private schools and $30,000 to $45,000 or more in private schools. At the graduate and graduate levels, enrollees pay an average of $20,000 to $35,000 per year in public schools and $35,000 to $50,000 in private schools.

Are your online programs accredited?

Accreditation is the process by which schools undergo a voluntary and rigorous third-party review to ensure consistent quality standards. Online programs are not specifically accredited for offering distance learning, but host schools may be accredited at the institution and program level.

Institutional accreditation is very important to a school’s reputation. If you get a degree from a non-accredited college or university, it can be difficult to transfer credits or even get a job.

Certain programs can also be certified. For example, organizations such as the College Board of Nursing and the Board of Accreditation of Nursing Education accredit nursing departments within schools. Business schools can be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

International students should always research and verify the accreditation status of prospective schools and programs. By ensuring that the institutions and programs of their choice meet our high standards of quality, enrollees can rest assured that they are making a worthwhile investment in their education.

What kind of support does the school provide to international students?

International students can begin exploring available resources by contacting their school’s International Student Affairs Department. These departments can get the ball rolling by helping with visa, financial aid, and immigration questions.

Some universities offer English language centers for students seeking additional support. International learners may be required to pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for admission. Some institutions offer online TOEFL courses to help international test takers prepare for the exam.

Although international students are not eligible for federal funding through FAFSA, colleges and universities can use this form to verify if an international student is eligible for state or school-based aid. Educational institutions may also offer scholarships specifically for international students. For this reason, international students are still required to complete the FAFSA.

Schools may also provide orientations and advisors specifically for international students.

Benefits of Online Colleges for International Students

US online colleges offer several benefits to international learners. Read on to learn about the positive aspects of studying in the US as an international student.

Diverse program

By opening the university search to schools with online learning options, international students can get an education at more institutions. In addition to increasing the learning options available, these enrollees will be able to engage with peers, instructors, and coursework from cultures different from their own.

affordable option

Online programs often apply lower tuition fees than on-campus programs. Some schools and states allow international students to pay an in-state resident fee. This saves students money. International learners cannot complete a fully online program from their home country, but can save on travel and housing costs during the online portion of their education.

travel less

Traditional face-to-face schooling may require long hours of travel for on-campus commutes and transfers. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, an international student was only allowed to complete one online course per semester, requiring more travel between countries and campuses. However, in Spring 2020, the US Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) updated its policy to allow international students to complete hybrid programs.

Online students can complete most of their education from home. Some US schools have partnerships with international institutions that allow enrollees to complete online courses at a local school before completing their program in the US.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Colleges for International Students

Can international students study online from their home country?

Yes, but only part of the education. International students cannot complete a 100% online program based in the United States, but can participate in a hybrid education that combines online and face-to-face instruction.

Do I need a visa to study online?

Generally yes, but there are exceptions. International students enrolled in a hybrid SEVP-accredited school must have an F-1 or M-1 visa. Some schools allow a foreign learner to start school in her home country before qualifying for her F-1 visa.

Can I get a student visa for online courses in the USA?

yes. However, international students cannot complete a 100% online program in the United States. Some schools are helping foreign learners obtain her F-1 and M-1 visas to take online courses at US-based schools.


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