Once, your F1 Visa is approved, you are going to start thinking the folowing.
How to Pay the College Tution Fees?
How to take the money with you for Living Expense?
Which option gives the best Foreign Exchange Rate?
If you have a student loan, bank manager might add few more wrinkles to this process.
Let’s dig deeper about money transfer options.
List of Options to Transfer Money to the USA
- Demand Draft (or Cashiers Check)
- International Wire Transfer
- Direct to Your Bank Account
- Direct to Universities Bank Account
- Using FlyWire
- Foreign Exchange Travel Card
- Travelers Check
Do the bank (in India) actually give the amount directly to the US? Also, if we pay the university, they won’t give us our livelihood expenses and insurance out of it? So, please advise.
1. Pay via Demand Draft (or Cashier Check)
Students from India will know this option – Demand Draft. In other words, you can call it as Cashiers Check.
Demand Draft (DD) is issued to a specific Business or a Person.
- Get Demand Draft from Bank in India for certain amount greater than estimated tuition fee
- Sometimes Banks will give DD only in the university as a single draft
Example – First-semester Tuition fee – $9,000. You can get DD for $10,000 (payable to the University).
Pay the fee using the DD ($9,000).
Your University will process the fees.
Let’s say it comes to $9000 (Including Insurance). Remaining $500 will be credited back to you.
Typically university will send a personal check to your name.
You can deposit that check into your bank account (in the US).
This whole process takes about 20 to 30 days.
Some Universities charge an additional fee for processing the Demand Draft. Check with your university’s payment options.
2. International Wire Transfer
Several students take this route by using International Wire Transfer to make the Payment.
- Direct Transfer to University Account
- Transfer to Personal Account to University Account
In general, banks in India will not allow Wire Transfer direct to students account if the money is part of an approved Education Loan.
2.1 Direct Transfer to Your Account & Pay With Credit Card
If the money is coming from your savings or parents savings account, then you have an option to send the money to your Checking Account and then pay the University using your Credit Card (if you can) or via Check.
If the University gives an option to Pay via Credit Card and if you meet the following conditions, then consider making the payment via Credit Card.
- Credit Card gives you Points
- You have a new card and need to meet the Spending Requirements
- There’s no Fee for Paying using the Card
- You will break even if university charges transaction fee (by points)
Additional Processing Fee could make this transaction expensive.
Here’s the Payment option from UNC-Chapel Hill. It has a 2.85% processing fee.
Here’s another example from the University of Texas at Arlington about additional fees of 2.25% for paying via Credit Card.
If you are going to pay $10,000 in Tuition fee, 2.85% will add an additional $285 to your bill.
I have seen friend use the Credit Card to make the Fee in UT Arlington, when they did not have the money to pay the fees.
2.2 Direct Transfer to Your Account & Pay With Personal Check
If you received money as Direct Transfer into your Account, then you can pay the Tuition fee via Personal Check.
For Check from Domestic U.S. Based Banks, there shouldn’t be any processing fee.
If you are have savings from your part-time job, internship or assistantship, you would use Check to Pay the fees.
2.3. Pay via FlyWire
Several Universities are now offering an option for International Students to pay the University via Flywire.
This option will allow your parents to send the money in the local bank in your home country to FlyWire and they will transfer the money to Universities account.
Here’s an example from the University of Texas at Arlington.
3. Pay Using Forex Travel Card
Paying using Forex Travel Card is also a popular option.
If University is not offering Flywire option, and for some families, if Wire Transfer is not a possibility, then Forex Card might be the way to go.
As you can see the Processing Fee and the exchange rate can differ a bit based on the companies that issue the Travel Card.
4. Travelers Check
I’m not sure if anyone uses Travelers Check these days.
Amex Travelers Check is as good as Cash.
Anyone in the possession of it can cash it. I would not recommend this option.
Even if you were gives this as an option, please stay away.
If you happen to lose this Amex Travelers Check, you will be trying to find ways to salvage the funds.
I don’t Recommend Carrying Thousands of Dollars as Travelers Check to pay your college tuition fee.
Summary: How to Pay Tuition Fee
I posted this question to a wider audience in the F1 Visa Facebook Group.
Here’s the response from several members.
I think the above screenshots sums-up the different ways F1 Students are paying their tuition fees.
Pick one that you will comfortable and that gives the best bang for your buck.
Related Articles in College Tuition Fees
- Difference Between In-State vs Out of state Fees for International Students
- How to Calculate Total Tuition Fees from the Form I-20
- What is Credit Hour, Duration of Degree and Tuition Fee?
- How to Pay the Tuition Fees to the College – 4 Options (this article)
- Total Cost of Studying Masters (MS) Degree in the USA