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Why we are a great option for Bermudian students

By Bob Settje

Despite the fact the United States is Bermuda's closest neighbour and primary economic partner, nearly 75 per cent of the Island's university-bound high school and Bermuda College students choose to attend colleges and universities somewhere other than in the US. I want to change that.

The US offers a wide variety of accredited institutions, including public and private community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, minority-serving institutions, women's colleges, for-profit universities and research institutions.

American institutions of higher learning are renowned worldwide for their quality, numerous programmes, and flexibility to change fields of study and schools, especially at the undergraduate level.

For those reasons — Bermuda's experience aside — the US is the preferred destination for students from around the world. The 2014 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released on November 17, found that the number of international students at US colleges and universities had increased by eight per cent to a record high of 886,052 students in the 2013/14 academic year.

The US hosts more of the world's 4.5 million globally-mobile college and university students than any other country, with almost double the number hosted by the second-place United Kingdom.

We seek to expand even further the enrolment of international students and to diversify their presence among colleges and universities across the US.

There are many reasons for the choices students and their parents make, but what we hear consistently in Bermuda is that “sticker shock” — the quoted cost of an American education — is a primary motivator for choosing non-American institutions of higher learning. Contrary to popular belief, the wide range of tuition and living costs in the US makes finding an affordable higher-education institution achievable for nearly everyone.

More and more US colleges and universities, including some of the most elite schools, offer financial aid to international students to help defray the costs of study and room and board.

During the most recent year for which data are available, 345 US colleges and universities offered international undergraduates aid packages, and the average scholarship awarded to an international student was $17,721.

Some schools — including Harvard, Yale, the University of Chicago, and Amherst College — offered substantially more, awarding on average more than $50,000 to qualified international students.

The ten US schools that offer the most aid to international students, in order of average funds provided, are the University of Chicago, Williams College, Yale, Skidmore College, Harvard, Amherst College, Wesleyan University, Stanford, Trinity College, and Dartmouth College.

For example, Skidmore College, a small, highly-regarded liberal arts school in Saratoga Springs, New York, awarded 80 of its 220 international students an average of $53,523 during a recent academic year.

US colleges and universities with a need-blind admissions policy admit students regardless of their ability to pay. For students — including international students — who cannot afford the full price tag, those schools award scholarships and other aid to make up the difference.

Among the more prominent schools that offer need-blind and full-need admission to outstanding international students are Harvard, MIT, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Amherst.

Put simply, if students meet the admission requirements for those schools, they can afford to go. For additional information about financial aid at US colleges and universities, see eduPass: The Smart Student Guide to Studying in the USA at www.edupass.org/finaid/fafsa.phtml. To give my pitch a uniquely Bermuda focus, I am pleased to announce that Matthew Washburn, the EducationUSA programme officer of the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, will come to the Island the first week of December.

During the week, Matt will visit all the secondary schools in Bermuda and Bermuda College to give presentations and answer questions from prospective students and their parents about attending colleges and universities in the US.

Please contact your school counsellor to find out when Matt will be at your school. Matt's visit coincides with the Bermuda International College and University Fair at CedarBridge Academy on December 4. The Consulate will have a booth at the fair and Matt will be present to talk to interested students and their parents.

We recommend that prospective students and their parents also visit www.educationusa.state.gov for additional information about studying in the United States.

Students of Bermuda, the US welcomes you!

•Bob Settje is the US Consul General

Photo courtesy of Harvard University Financial aid: Some of the elite education institutions in the United States, including Harvard, above, offer help to international students, says US Consul General Bob Settje

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Published December 02, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated December 01, 2014 at 8:36 pm)

Why we are a great option for Bermudian students

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