5 things you should know about applying to study in the USA

By Paige Lyman• Last updated: Feb 19, 2024
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There's a lot of excitement in applying to university, especially if you are planning on going abroad. The application process can be a lot no matter where you are, but there are some specific things you’ll want to keep in mind when it comes to the USA. If you are considering applying to study in the United States, we’ve pulled together five things that you should keep in mind when you’re looking at universities here.


The application process can vary from university to university, but here are five things that can help you be prepared for the application process.

Application fees

One thing that very much stands out in the United States university application process is the fact that application fees are very common. This is not generally common in other countries, so it’s something to be aware of when you are looking at universities in the US. 

Application fees can range from high to as low as $25. For example, Princeton University’s application fee is currently $70. In certain cases, universities will generally waive application fees due to financial circumstances. If financial circumstances are a concern for a school you might be applying to, you’ll want to reach out to the admissions office to see what can be done for your unique situation. 

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Admissions tests

Depending on which university you are looking at applying to, there will undoubtedly be different requirements unique to that university for admission! For many schools that have undergraduate degrees, students will be required to submit either SAT or ACT test scores when applying for these degrees. These two tests generally work to measure your overall academic abilities and colleges use them as a way to compare you to other students who have applied as well.

For those looking to apply to US universities to pursue a postgraduate degree, there are other admissions tests that might be required for your program. Postgraduate programs might require the GRE, MCAT, or the GMAT test. 

And as an international student, a university might also require a TOEFL or IELTS score for consideration in either an undergraduate or postgraduate program. Both of these tests serve as English language tests that a university might require. You’ll want to check to see what test scores the universities you are looking at requires for the application process!

Financial information

Alongside test scores and the overall application fee, another element to keep in mind for your application process to a US university is that of financial information. Providing financial information can be provided in the form of bank statements, scholarship letters, documentation from a sponsor, and financial aid.

Providing this kind of financial information might be necessary directly when you apply to the university you’ve selected, or you might be asked to provide it once you’re actually selected. As international students, you might also be wondering why financial information is asked for in the first place. 

Schools ask for this information because they are required to ask for financial proof that students can, at the very least, pay for the first year of study along with estimated expenses.

Academic records

When you are planning to apply to a university in the US, you’ll want to ensure that you have your previous academic transcripts on hand. Your academic records can be from any accredited institution that you have attended: high school or secondary school, community college, or a university.

Taking a little time to figure out how to get your transcripts transferred to the university or universities that you are applying to early on can save some time later on! Academic transcripts can be a lengthy process at times, so taking early steps when you can will be helpful later on.

Studying in the USA is now simple
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This might seem like a pretty obvious thing, but it’s an important element to the US application process for international students! A passport is needed to study abroad in the US if you’re not a citizen or a permanent resident of the United States. Typically schools in the US have it set as a requirement for international students to include their passport number on any applications, so ensuring that you have a passport before applying to any school is important. 

As with any kind of university application process, there’s quite a bit to keep in mind. Hopefully this list of five things to know about the US university application has given you a clearer idea of what to expect once you finally start the process. Applying to study abroad can be an overwhelming process for anyone, but taking the time to better understand the process and planning early on what you need to have together can help to make the application process simpler for yourself!

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Guest Author | Study Abroad Expert

Paige Lyman is a freelance writer and journalist who writes in the pop-culture space. With a wealth of experience in stu...Read More

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