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Affordable American Education

US Consul General, Karen Grissette, explains how scholarships, financial aid and partnerships with the Bermuda College can make studying in the US more affordable than you might think
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In photo: Eastern Kentucky: U.S. Consul General Karen Grissette is pictured with teachers and students from Eastern Kentucky University’s Risk Management and Insurance programme. The university offers an online programme available for Bermudian students.

US higher educational institutions might be among the finest and best known in the world, but they also have a reputation for being the most expensive. Fees for international students vary hugely depending on the institution, but at the higher end, they are in excess of $70,000 per year.

The perception therefore, is that unless students or their families have been saving every spare penny since birth, and even then that may not be enough, the fees, along with the cost of living in the US, are well beyond reach.

According to US Consul General in Bermuda, Karen Grissette, this is however, a misconception.

This is because not only are there hundreds of scholarships available to Bermudian students, but many colleges and universities have a variety of financial aid packages available, even to international students.

In addition to this, there are already 20 US schools that have signed articulation agreements with Bermuda College to create transfer pathways, which make it easier and more affordable for Bermudian students to complete their studies in the US. And that number is growing, with US schools including Troy University in Alabama and Flagler College in Florida working to expand transfer opportunities.

Troy University has also committed to offer scholarships to any Bermudian student who has a B grade average. This means instead of paying $31,815 per year for international students in 2023-2024, for tuition, room, and board, qualified Bermudian students will pay the equivalent of in-state tuition, which is $22,023 per year, including tuition, housing, meals and health insurance.

Other universities that have scholarships for Bermudians, or partnerships with Bermuda-based organisations include Columbia College, Georgia State University, Eastern Kentucky University, St John’s University in New York and Arizona State University.

This is just a small sample of schools that would like to attract Bermudian students. But, what are the benefits of studying in the US over and above other countries?

“We have, by most rankings, eight of the top 10 universities in the world,” said Ms Grissette. “There’s no question that the top research institutions in every field are found in the US. We also have the most specialisations. I would encourage students who have unique interests and know what they want to study, to research the specialised programmes that exist in their chosen field in the US.”

She also proudly points out that many of the world’s leading innovators and leaders attended US universities: “Graduates of US universities are working to solve some of the world’s toughest global challenges,” she said, adding that alumni associations are also very strong, providing opportunities for mentorship and links with employers.

Ms Grissette added that there are so many US school options, there is an institution to suit anyone, and each one offers a campus life “unlike anything else in the world”.

“The US has about 4,500 accredited institutions of higher education, so we believe there is a university or college that’s right for every Bermudian,” she said. “Moreover, colleges and universities in the US provide the chance to be part of a diverse, inclusive community on a college campus, together with other Americans and international students who are experiencing this important time of life in a dynamic American city or unique college town.”

The sporting opportunities and facilities available are also a huge attraction and you don’t have to be an elite athlete to enjoy them.

“Students can have the experience of being involved in sports, whether it’s on-campus intramural sports, or division one, two or three sports programmes,” she said. “Student-athletes of all levels are able to play sports on campus.” There are also on-campus social, cultural and volunteer activities to get involved in.

Many US universities would like a more diverse student body, hence wanting to attract international students. There has, however, been a decline in Bermudian students choosing to study in the US over the past ten years.

It is for this reason that the consulate is in the midst of the ‘Study with US’ campaign, launched in 2022. The campaign includes a video series featuring Bermudian US university students and alumni talking about different aspects of their educational experience.

“It’s been exceptionally positive”, said Ms Grissette of the campaign feedback. “I think the most important reaction is that even people from the education sector have told us they weren’t previously aware of some of the more affordable ways to study in the US, and the ways to apply for financial aid.

“The sticker price of US colleges are higher than many places in the world, but people are put off by that without understanding that there are ways to bring that full tuition price down, sometimes to zero.”

Firstly, look at bermudascholarships.com to determine which scholarships you are eligible for, and apply for them. Then, apply to US schools to find out what financial aid packages are available. International students can also supplement their income by working on campus.

“The full tuition price is not paid by most students, particularly when they have a financial need,” she said. “Most US colleges and universities offer some type of financial aid package, especially when the applicants have top grades, an attractive application packet with good essays, and good extra-curricular activities.”

For further information about US higher education institutions, visit: educationusa.state.gov

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