Dear Mentor:

How can I find a sponsor for my education?

I am living in Yugoslavia (Serbia). It's rather difficult from here to connect with some sponsors' links because I haven't enough time for connecting (we pay for the Internet time). Please, send me some sponsors who, you are sure, will want to sponsor me. I need it because I must prove ability to finance all years of my education. Do you know some University that can give scholarship for education? I study Electrotechnic in University in Nish (Yugoslavia, Serbia). It will be good for me to transfer. I am very good in computer and Internet, and I am very good art designer. My letter is (maybe) one of many letters you received, but I hope you will be so kind to help me, because this kind of education will change my life for the best. Many regards to Indian friends from a Serbian friend.

Friend in Need, Yugoslavia (Serbia)

Dear Friend in Need:

We are assuming from "Electotechnic" that you are in the Bachelor's (undergraduate) degree program for Electrical Engineering.

It might be instructive to outline the financial aid system for higher education in the US. For legal residents (citizens and permanent residents) of the US, colleges & universities make every effort to offer financial aid packages. For the most part, these financial aid packages are composed of loans, whether government guaranteed or not, which must be repaid by the recipient upon completing the education. Scholarships are extremely few, and thus the competition for them is fierce. Most of these scholarships are only for the legal residents of the US.

As a result of this situation, financial aid in any form, for all practical purposes, is not available to international students. International students, who are not taxpayers in the US, are expected to fund their own education. Employment for international students is forbidden in the US, except for working up to 20 hours a week on campus. Even if you were fortunate to get this employment, the earning would be minuscule relative to your financial needs. Consequently, international students are required to demonstrate their financial ability to meet the financial demands of education and residency in the US, when applying for the student visa. Failure to demonstrate the financial ability results in a denial of the student visa request.

So what does it mean for you? It means that a transfer to the US for completing an undergraduate degree, with full financial support in the form of scholarship, is highly unlikely. We recognize that this is not what you wanted to hear, but unfortunately this is the reality.

Having said all this, there is better news, but beyond the immediate future. Once you finish your undergraduate degree, you have a much better chance of securing financial support for a graduate degree (Master's or PhD degree) in the form of Research or Teaching Assistantship. These assistantships are available to legal US residents and to international students. Relatively speaking, such assistantships are more readily available for technical fields, and Electrical Engineering in particular, than they are for other disciplines.

Our advice to you would be to continue your studies and complete the degree, before expending significant efforts on coming to the US.

We recognize that your country is going through some dramatic changes. We sincerely hope that these changes will be for the better, for your fellow citizens and for our world.

We, your friends at iMahal, wish you, our Serbian friend, the very best.

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