International schools in the United States can be a serious alternative for parents who are reluctant to send their children to a public or private American school. Especially if your stay in the US is going to be of limited duration, this form of education is probably the best choice for your children.
International schools not only offer a more global focus in their curriculum, but they are also used to responding to the particular needs of expat children. Some focus on certain languages or nationalities (such as British, German or French), while others pride themselves on being open to students with different languages, cultures, and nationalities. Most offer language courses and are multilingual as a matter of course.
International schools in the United States provide diverse academic programs and sometimes various degree options. Official accreditations prove the quality of the staff, curriculum and overall academic program of each school. Some US international schools are even designed as boarding schools, providing even closer academic supervision and an extensive after-school activities program. In most cases, they are privately run and therefore require annual tuition payments in addition to various additional fees.
Gaining admission to US international schools is not as easy as one may think. Each school requires an application form with very detailed information on each prospective student before he/she can be admitted. The admission requirements vary widely, just like the required tuition fees.
Before you apply for the admission of your child to a certain school, you should first find out more about the admission requirements. You can usually find detailed information on the school’s website, often including application documents which you can download as PDF documents. Here, you can also find each school’s application deadlines and waiting lists. If you need additional information, do not hesitate to contact the school of your choice by email or telephone to schedule a personal appointment.
No matter which school you find appropriate for your child, you will have to provide detailed information on your child’s academic skills, extra-curricular interests and language proficiency. Students will usually be required to have at least a basic knowledge of the English language. From second grade onwards, quite a few international schools will also ask for your children’s previous school records. All of them require an application fee.
As most international schools in the United States are private or boarding schools (with the exception of some public schools that offer the International Baccalaureate), you will have to make an annual payment to cover tuition and fees. Tuition and fees can amount to a sum between $20,000 and $50,000 or even more.
In addition to the application fee, you will usually also have to pay other fees as well as a tuition deposit in advance. For the actual tuition payment, there is usually a payment plan which allows you to make a few smaller payments over the course of the year. Another way to cover the high tuition fees is to apply for financial aid. Most schools offer financial aid or support to low-income families to give access to children from different social backgrounds.
Make sure to ask if the international school you have chosen grants any refunds of tuition. Most will accept that their pupils’ families are not American citizens and are still in the process of applying for a visa while they are already looking for a school for their children. For this reason, many (but not all) of them will grant a refund of tuition in case your visa application is denied.
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