Guidelines for International Students Seeking Financial Assistance

Thomas Aquinas College has established guidelines for students from countries where currency exchange policies or national economies substantially limit their ability to provide for their education or daily needs. Although the College can assist in many ways -- including financial assistance with the expenses of tuition and room and board -- there are a number of obligations which students are expected to meet from their own resources. 

Student Expense Escrow Account

To ensure the College that an international student has adequate funds to meet his yearly expenses, the College establishes an interest bearing escrow account for each international student prior to his enrollment as a freshman.  Funds are deposited into the account by the student and they remain his property.  The amount which a student must have on deposit prior to receiving his I-20 student visa and prior to the beginning of each subsequent school year is $1,000 (US$) plus the student's tuition payment for the coming school year and the cost of return airfare to his home country. This escrow account ensures that the student has adequate funds for:

Student's tuition payment To be determined
Medical insurance* (catastrophic):
$ 450 US$ estimated
Books :
$     0 US$ estimated
School supplies : $   50 US$ estimated
Personal necessities :
$ 500 US$ estimated
Cost of return airfare:
To be determined

*The cost of health insurance may be more than $450 depending upon the level of coverage purchased, the student’s age and health, and the overall insurance market conditions. A deposit for medical insurance is not required if you have documentation of existing insurance.

These funds may be drawn upon as needed.  For larger expenses, such as medical insurance, the student must inform the College’s Business Office of the amount which is needed and the party to whom the funds are being paid.  The College will write a check to the appropriate vendor, using funds from the student’s escrow account.  Supplies can be charged on account at the College’s bookstore.  For these expenses, funds will be transferred monthly from the escrow account to pay the charges made to the student’s bookstore account.  Finally, for other expenses, such as clothing or personal necessities that cannot be purchased at the bookstore, funds can be withdrawn from the escrow account by contacting the College’s Business Manager.

Replenishing the Escrow Account

Each summer the student must restore the escrow account to its original balance prior to registration in August to ensure that there are sufficient funds for the coming school year. This generally can be done if the student has employment on campus during the summer months and, in some cases, during semester break as well.

If an international student has fulfilled satisfactorily his obligation on the campus work-study program during the academic year, he will be offered employment by the College during the summer months or semester break and may remain on campus during those times. For working 40 hours each week for 12 weeks during the summer holiday, each student worker receives approximately $4,320 US$ (less tax withholding).  Since there is a $2,000 US$ minimum student payment toward tuition each year, that amount will be deducted from his summer earnings and credited toward tuition. A student’s payment may be larger if his financial resources warrant it.

Consequently, a campus summer worker ought to have sufficient income to replenish his escrow account after having his tuition payment deducted from his summer wages.  Depending on his summer expenses, a student may find himself with a shortfall in his escrow account after applying summer wages.  If a student has no other resources to make up this shortfall, the College may offer international students employment during the semester break (Christmas holiday). 

Any funds remaining in the escrow account when the student leaves the College will be refunded to him.

International students must handle their personal finances carefully to ensure adequate funds for books, supplies and pocket money during the four years of their attendance at the College. It is very good if international students have personal contacts with relatives or family friends in the United States in case they require assistance in some way in which Thomas Aquinas College cannot help or in case they wish to leave the campus for an extended period.

Please see below for auxiliary information regarding some of the expenses an international student can expect to face during his four years at Thomas Aquinas College.

Medical Insurance

Thomas Aquinas College cannot be responsible for unexpected medical expenses which may arise during the year. Therefore, each year an international student must purchase medical insurance which will protect him in the event of an accident or illness requiring major medical attention. Since the College does not have a campus-sponsored health insurance program, a student must purchase the requisite health insurance from an independent insurance agent. The College has brochures from several such insurance companies. These brochures are available upon request.

The cost of health insurance may be more than $450, depending upon the level of coverage purchased, the student’s age and health, and the overall insurance market conditions. The student is responsible for making sure that insurance coverage is purchased each year. He must inform the College's Business Manager of the amount of the insurance premium each year so that a check may be disbursed from the student's escrow account to the insurance agency.

Return Airfare Deposit

Thomas Aquinas College fully expects students will be successful in all four years of their studies. If for some reason, however, they cannot complete the academic program, and in any event at the end of their four years of study, students must be able to purchase air transportation to their homeland. Therefore, international students must provide the College with a deposit equivalent to the cost of return airfare to their home country. When a student is ready to purchase return transportation, he should inform the College's Business Office and the College will disburse whatever is held in the escrow account for this purpose. 

Student Loan Requirement

International students are, like students with U.S. citizenship, expected to borrow a limited amount from a bank or other institution to be paid toward the expenses of their education at Thomas Aquinas College as a form of "self-help aid" before requesting any financial assistance from the College. The College expects all international students requesting financial aid to borrow $4,500 US$ per year to be paid toward tuition, room and board.

If a student is not eligible for a government-guaranteed loan or a loan from a private lending institution, he may, as a last resort, request a loan from Thomas Aquinas College itself. The College has very limited resources for student loans, so international students are expected to examine all other loan sources before requesting a loan from the College.

A loan from the College does not accrue interest until the first day of the sixth month after the student ceases resident study on at least a half-time basis in a collegiate or post-graduate course leading to a degree. Principal and interest shall be payable in monthly installments beginning on the first day of the seventh month after the student ceases such resident study. Loans are usually amortized over ten years.

If a student with a loan from the College returns to his home country as a permanent resident and finds that the economy of his home country is such that he is unable to meet his monthly loan payment obligation, he may petition the Business Manager of the College to reduce the terms of the loan agreement. The Business Manager, in turn, will review the student's financial circumstances and determine whether any of the terms of the promissory note shall be reduced. The College shall be the sole judge of whether any such petition shall be granted.

International Students
Frater Simeon Goodwin, O. Praem.

“At Thomas Aquinas College, I learned that the world makes sense. It was so wonderful to discover that there is a real order in things and that I could understand it.”

– Frater Simeon Goodwin, O. Praem. (’10)

St. Michael's Abbey, Orange County, Calif.

“I am most grateful for Thomas Aquinas College’s resolute fidelity to the Church and her teachings. The young people whom you serve certainly are being formed to think with the Church and to defend the Faith with courage and charity.”

– The Most Rev. William E. Lori

Archbishop of Baltimore

Chair of the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty