8 Most Common Questions from [Students in India] about Studying Abroad in America

Question #1. Do I need an IELTS or TOEFL exam score to be accepted to a US university?

Yes. If you want direct admission to a US university for a bachelor’s or master’s degree then you will be required to submit an IELTS or TOEFL exam score. In general, international students should attempt to earn at least an IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 80. If you wish to spend a semester or more learning English in the US, most universities offer pathway programs or you can enroll in an approved ESL school in the USA.

Advice: In India, students without an IELTS or TOEFL exam score have a higher visa denial rate than those with language scores, even if applying through a pathway or ESL program.

Question #2. Do I need a GRE exam score to be accepted to a master’s degree program at a US university?

Yes. A competitive US university or a competitive degree program will require a 300 GRE score or higher; however, other universities and programs do not require a GRE score for admission.

Advice: In recent months, visa officers in India have been asking to see GRE exam scores from students accepted to master’s degree programs, even if the US university does not require a GRE.

Question #3. Should I use a local education agent to apply to a US university?

No. In some cases, a local education agent can provide adequate information about the application and visa process. However, we recommend international students choose an American education consultant with certification from AIRC, USATC, or PIER, which ensures the assistance you receive will be from an experienced professional who lives and works in the United States.

Advice: Most application deadlines are February for the Fall (September) semester, March for the Summer (June) semester, and October for the Winter (January) semester.

Question #4. Can I apply for a master’s degree with a three-year bachelor’s degree?

No. Most NACES approved transcript evaluation companies will not certify that a three-year bachelor’s degree is equivalent to a four-year degree in the US. However, many US universities offer one-year bridge programs in which an international student can complete his or her undergraduate degree in two-semesters and often provisionally accept the student into a master’s degree program upon successful completion of the bridge program.

Advice: Some bridge programs issue a US bachelor’s degree diploma upon successfully completion of the program while other universities allow the student to enter the graduate program but do not issue a diploma.

Question #5. How much money does my financial sponsor have to show to the visa officer?

US universities issue international students a letter of acceptance as well as an I-20 form, which includes the exact amount in USD the student’s financial sponsor must show in a certified bank statement to the US visa officer during the visa interview. The amount varies from university to university but includes the following: two semester’s of tuition, housing, food, books, health insurance, spending money, and fees.

Advice: If possible, it is always a good idea to show the visa officer the ability to pay more money than required.

Question #6. Will my visa application be denied if I have an education loan?

No. If you present the visa officer with certified bank documents indicating you have been approved for the full amount of your education in the US then you will have provided adequate proof of financial support.

Advice: Most students in India who apply for an education loan do so for a master’s degree, particularly one-year graduate programs.

Question #7. Can I study in the USA with a scholarship?

Yes. However, an international scholarship is based on a student’s academic performance and exam scores. For example, international students will high course grades and high IELTS/TOEFL/SAT/ACT/GRE exam scores tend to qualify for the majority of the scholarship monies available at a university. An international scholarship is not issued simply because you are an international student nor does a scholarship offer a free education in the USA. In general, an international scholarship will reduce the tuition burden but will not impact housing, food, books, and other expenditures.

Advice: The ACT and SAT exams are not required at most US universities for international students applying for a bachelor’s degree. However, ACT and SAT exam scores can be used to determine the amount of an international scholarship.

Question #8. What’s your best advice for international students applying for an F-1 visa?

Earn acceptances to at least three US universities. Be able to articulate why you chose one university over the other two. Be prepared to talk about your financial support (in detail). Bring certified bank statements or proof of an education loan. Bring your course grades as well as your IELTS or TOEFL score report (and GRE score report, if applicable). Be prepared to prove why your degree program in the US is more beneficial to your academic or professional career than remaining in your home country (and be prepared to prove you plan to return to your home country after graduation). If you’re denied a visa on your first attempt, it is very difficult to overcome a 214b denial so hire a trained American education consultant so you’re not denied in the first place.

Advice: Most of the advice international students receive on social media about being approved for a F-1 visa is generally misleading and often completely false. Always speak to a professional first.

Contact McGovern Education Group at info@mcgoverneducation.com to speak with an experienced American education professional. Follow Us on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.