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Putting Together Your Application for Studying English Abroad: What is Proof of Funds?

Completing your ESL Application: The Essentials for Submitting the Proof of Funds Requirement

One essential component of the international student application process is proof of funds.  It may have another similar name such as “financial certification” or “financial documents.”  

The proof of funds requirement should not be confused with tuition/payment due to the program or school to which you have applied. In short, the proof of funds is meant to show that you have access to the funds needed to participate in the program, but tuition/payment due refers to the actual money you would pay to your program or school to study.

The two documents necessary for the proof of funds requirement (in most cases):  

  1. a document to be signed by the student or the student’s sponsor
  2. a bank statement to show that the funds are available 

The sponsor could be a friend, relative, or funding agency (for example, a scholarship provider) that will confirm that there is money available for you to use. There will be clear guidelines included with the document explaining who can be a sponsor, how much money should be in the bank account, and how recent the bank statement must be.

The amount that you will be required to show as proof of funds is usually a minimum estimate of the cost of your selected academic program and all basic living expenses. This expenses will vary depending on the cost of living of location you choose to study in. You must show enough money to cover the costs for the length of your program or one academic year––whichever is longer. Estimated costs could include––but are not limited to––tuition, fees, housing, food, textbooks/materials, health insurance, and any application fees. It will not include your transportation to or within the country.

The proof of funds requirement is included in the application process for two main reasons:

  1. the safety of the student
  2. preparation for the student visa application process 

Your program or school wants to make sure you can afford not only your chosen academic program, but also all the things you would need to live properly while in the country ––like a place to live and food to eat.  The proof of funds also allows your program or school to issue the I-20, which is the document you will take with you to get your student visa. You won’t be able to obtain the student visa without this proof.

Please understand that your tuition and other fees will need to be paid to the university when you enroll.  These expenses are included in the calculation of the funds needed in the proof of funds, but there are also expenses which are sometimes not paid to the academic program, such as housing and food, which might be purchased on-campus or off-campus.  

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