Since the tuition fee in US universities & colleges is higher as compared to that in Indian institutes, most students look for fee waivers of some kind to make studies in the US affordable. The most common ways of fee waivers are associateship (TA/RA/GA), tuition waivers and fellowships.
Scholarships are granted to students based on academic excellence, or, in some cases, factors like ethnic background or even financial need. The amount for each scholarship varies. Scholarships can be awarded through the university or a private source. Also read: List of Scholarships for Indian students to study in US
US universities provide mainly 2 types of assistanships – Teaching Assistanship (TA) and Research Assistantship (RA). A Teaching Assistantship usually consists of helping the professor with secondary academic work such as conducting lab sessions, grading assignments etc. A TA is usually offered after one semester but it may be offered to a student with the admission itself if he/she has strong academic records. Key to get a TA is to score well in a professor’s subject in the previous semester. A Research Assistantship (RA) consists of helping a professor with his/her research work. An RA is usually difficult to get than a TA and a student must demonstrate strong interests in the professor’s research work along with the relevant skills. TAs and RAs are usually paid hourly stipends and may be even provided a partial/full tuition waiver. They usually help compensate the student’s tuition and living expenses. A third type of assistantship, Graduate Assistantship (GA) is similar to RA but is usually paid more.
Fellowships are grants given to graduate and post-graduate students. They are awarded by universities/institutions private organizations and even by the government.
Also read: Money saving tips for international students in the USA
This means that the tuition fee is waived off for students. However, fees for the use of university facilities like the laboratories, library and other activities have to be paid by the student. A tuition waiver is frequently awarded in conjunction with a scholarship or teaching/research Assistantship.
Apart from the above funding opportunities, you can even earn money while you are at the university by taking up an on campus job, like writing for the campus magazine. On campus jobs don’t have a tuition waiver.
You can also approach your institute for grants (you don’t need to pay back this money) or loans (this must be paid back.)