Requirements to study in the United States

To pursue a college degree in the United States is a goal for many. The country of opportunities has its doors open for you, as long as you are up to date with certain requirements. But don't worry, they are not impossible to meet. We share the requirements to study in the United States.

Requirements to study in the United States

There are three fundamental requirements and one optional but important one. You must get approved by an American university, pass the SAT and TOFL, apply for your student visa and, very importantly, get a scholarship to reduce the high costs and even study for free.

Getting a scholarship

U.S. degrees have fairly high tuition costs, but there are opportunities to study for free. Universities can cover your expenses if you win one of these scholarships:

Athletic Scholarships.

These scholarships are awarded to students with a high level of athletic ability. These students will be part of the university's sports team. Sports scholarships cover a percentage of tuition and in some cases are full scholarships.

Academic Scholarships

These are awarded to students with a high academic level. They are offered at all universities and can range from $10,000 to $30,000. They are an award for outstanding high school students. And although grades do not work the same way in the US and in Spain, this difference will give you the advantage, you will not need only 10, with 9 you can opt for these scholarships.

International Scholarships

These are awarded to international students from different countries. Many universities are interested in having foreign students to internationalize the campus. If you get one of these scholarships, it can cover 50% of your tuition.

Being admitted to an American university

Some U.S. universities are annually ranked among the best universities. So there is no denying that the education is quality. But how to get admitted to these universities?

Obviously, there is a lot of competition. But to be admitted you must meet the following requirements:
  • Finish high school with a minimum grade in your GPA of 4.0, which in Spain is a 9 out of 10.
  • Take the SAT exam and earn a score of 1500 out of 1600.
  • Take the TOEFL exam and earn a score of 100 out of 120.
  • Submit evidence of volunteer activities. Colleges value if you have volunteered with an NGO or performed community service.
  • Have extracurricular activities such as playing an instrument, sports, math championships, chess, or any other intellectual, artistic or physical ability you have.
Passing the SAT

The SAT is a special challenge for those who aspire to an athletic scholarship. It is an entrance exam for universities in the USA. All of them require this test, and its purpose is the same as the PAU in Spain, although its content and structure is different. This exam does not evaluate the knowledge acquired in high school, but your ability to learn in the future. In other words, it evaluates your level of logical thinking and reasoning.

Passing the TOEFL test

It is an essential requirement for anyone who wants to study in an English-speaking country. It is an exam that measures your ability to understand and use English at the university level. In this case, knowledge of American English is tested.

Student Visas

All foreign students need a visa. Among the requirements to study in the United States it is the most important. In 2018 alone, 471,712 student visas were issued in the US, and currently more than one million foreign students hold visas. We explain the types of visas that exist below:

F1 Visa.

Granted by universities, colleges, language schools, conservatories, etc. to academic students. In addition, if your language course is longer than 19 hours per week, you will need this visa.

M1 Visa

It is a visa granted to people who will have a vocational and non-academic training. We are talking about pilots, IT technicians, mechanics, etc.

J1 Visa

It is granted to students enrolled in exchange programs.

Requirements to obtain a student visa

These are the requirements and documents you must have to obtain your visa.
  • Be a full-time student in the U.S.
  • Valid passport with at least six months of validity plus the time you will be in the United States.
  • Fill out the I-20 form for F1 and M1 visas.
  • Fill out the DS-2019 form for the J1 visa.
The I-20 form is a document that will be sent to you by the institute, school or university where you have been admitted. Without this form you cannot apply for the F1 and M1 visas. On the other hand, the DS-2019 form will be sent to you by the organization or agency sponsoring you to go on exchange to the U.S. with the J1 visa.

When can you apply for the American Student Visa?

Once you have fulfilled all the above requirements and have defined the type of visa you need, then you can apply. In the case of the F1 and M1 visas, you must apply for them no later than 120 days before the start of your program of studies that appears on the I-20. And on the other hand, for the J1 visa the time is longer, you can apply at any time before the date listed on the DS-2019 form.

Price of the student visa

Obviously it is not free. There are two costs you must pay: a $200 tax that is intended to fund the computer system used to register your stay in the USA, and a $160 visa application fee at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country. So a total of $360.

Obtaining an American student visa

Finally, to obtain the visa you must follow these 5 steps:
  • Submit form I-20 or DS2019 to prove that you have been accepted by an institution or organization authorized by the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service to enroll non-immigrant students.
  • Pay the $200 tax to fund the expensive SEVIS system. You must pay it at least three days before your interview.
  • Fill out the DS160 form. This is a form that you fill out on the internet and has a photograph of yourself. Once you have completed this form, you must print the "confirmation sheet" with the bar code to present it at your appointment at the embassy.
  • Make the appointment at the American embassy in your country. You can do this online and at this time you must also pay the $160 fee at the bank designated by the embassy. You can see the banks where you can pay on the website of the U.S. embassy in your country.
Finally, when you have your interview date, bring these documents with you:
  • Hard copy of the appointment.
  • Your current passport valid for at least six months longer than the time you will remain in the US. You should also bring your previous passports.
  • The confirmation sheet of the DS-160 form with the barcode you filled out.
  • Receipts for payment of the student visa application.
  • Form I20 for F1 and M1 visa or form DS-2019 for J1 visa.
  • SEVIS receipt.
  • Several photos.
In addition to these essential documents, we recommend that you bring
  • Your financial statement, which makes it clear that you have sufficient funds available to pay for all your expenses for the first year of study in the United States.
  • Academic documents and résumé that demonstrate your preparation. SAT and TOEFL exams are a must, as well as certificates, high school grades, etc.
  • If you got a scholarship, bring all the documentation that certifies that you got it.