If you are coming to the U.S. in order to attend a secondary school, you must know a few things about the F-1 student visa. Under Section 625 of Public Law 104-208 (Immigration and Nationality Act), foreign students cannot attend publicly funded educational institutions unless the foreign national is paying the full cost of her tuition.
While the law restricts public institutions from paying for a foreign student’s attendance, the F-1 visa student may pay for the costs of studying in the U.S. in a number of ways. Here are a few options and requirements for foreign students to pay tuition under Section 625:
- Form I-20. Students who apply for an F-1 visa must indicate the full cost of secondary education under "tuition" on the student's Form I-20. The amount should represent the unsubsidized cost of providing education to each student in the school district where the school is located (usually between $3000 and $10,000). If the cost of tuition is not listed on Form I-20, the student must have a notarized statement signed by the designated school official (DSO) stating the tuition cost and an attestation that the student has paid the tuition in full. Under U.S. law, school systems are prohibited from waiving the reimbursement requirement.
- Sponsorship. There is no law that says an organization or individual cannot sponsor an F-1 student to attend public secondary school in the U.S., as long as the tuition fees are not paid from public funds. While a third party may pay tuition costs, the student must still demonstrate the ability to cover daily living expenses while in the United States.
- Housing. In order to decrease the financial demand on the student, F-1 visa holders may live with U.S. citizen relatives while attending secondary school. However, any local, property, or school taxes the U.S. citizen has paid in his or her school district will not count toward the student’s tuition costs.