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Financial Documents Required for Study Abroad Applications

Studying abroad is a dream that requires extensive planning, various steps of application and long meticulous documentation. Starting from collecting the transcripts, the scorecards, to writing and submitting admission essays/statement of purpose/letter of recommendation to the long application forms. This process does not stop here and with admissions, a completely different set of paperwork begins for your student visa. An important component of the same are the financial documents. While the specifics might change from country to country and university to university, every document essentially follows a format.

This article will guide you toward the different documents that a study abroad aspirant requires, including samples of formats for financial documents specific to study abroad and basic good-to-know facts. We start by explaining some of the terms commonly used by Universities/ Consulates for Confirmation of Admission/ Student Visa Applications, respectively.

What is Proof of Funds (POF) or Financial Capacity?

One of the basics of Student Visa Applications is the requirement of Proof of Funds or Financial Capacity. For almost all countries (barring a few), students are required to provide evidentiary proof that they are able to not only pay for the fee but also normal living expenses for the duration of their stay in the country. Some universities ask for the same, but only after sending you an admission offer. Irrespective who asks for PoF, the fact remains that Proof of Funds refers to the proof positive that the student would be able to bear the cost of studying abroad. The costs include two chief components:

1. Fees and other University charges

Students are often required to make payment of this component in advance to confirm their admission offer. Since the payment is done up front, the proof of this component comprises of receipt of payments made. Usually, universities do not require a student to provide proof of future payments. Adding to it, since more often than not, the fees are revised; there is no fixed amount. Even then, Universities might request proof of income to ensure that you would be able to pay the fee in future as well. This might at times require sponsorship letters or Affidavit of Support. Some universities require proof of funds available in terms of a minimum balance requirement in special accounts (ex. Germany, Netherlands, Canada, etc.)

2. Living Expenses

Most of the countries have a basic minimum living expense requirement that is specified. The students are in turn requested to provide proof that they have access to the same. Most of the European Countries require liquid funds in the amount specified available with the student called the statutory fund requirements. In the USA, while there is no statutory amount specified in terms of minimum monthly expense, students would be required to provide proof of financial support and/ or capacity to make the payments. Students need to provide documentary proof that they have access to that amount for the tenure specified. Again, a country might request proof of funds for one year while some might ask for fund availability for the entire tenure of the course’s normal duration. Here is a list of some of the countries and the minimum fund requirements (living expenses) specified.

Name of the CountryStatutory Fund Requirements for Living Expenses*
CanadaCAD $10,000 for every year of your intended stay
United Kingdom£11,385 per annum (£1265 per month) for University situated in London or £9,135 (£1,015 per month) for anywhere other than London
AustraliaAUD $ 19,830 per year
Germany€ 670 per month of stay or € 8,040 per annum
France€ 615 for each month of stay
Netherlands€ 862, 50 per month for the period of stay
SwedenSEK 7,974 for each month of your stay in Sweden, computed for an intended stay with a minimum of 10 months for every year of stay in Sweden
Ireland€ 7000 as living expenses for every year of stay

*Subject to change

Note for USA: For admissions to Universities in USA, the Financial Proofs are requested at the time of confirmation of admission by the universities. It is only when the proofs are provided that the I-20s are issued by the university. Also, as mentioned, there is no minimum requirement but the University would provide a basic cost which the student would have to provide proof of capacity for. 

Types of Documents accepted under Proof of Funds

There is no standard list of documents that would be required by countries abroad. As the application process for the countries varies so does the student visa requirements and accordingly the list of documents that are required as proof of funds. Every country’s Student Visa/ University requirements list a separate set of acceptable documents. Here is a list of what all they can be, along with samples wherever necessary. Also, often more than one proof (unless a specific account/ deposit is requested) can be combined with another.

1. Bank Account Statements

Simple enough, the universities/ Visa Consulates might require you to submit your/ your sponsors’ bank account statements for a specific period. Again, the formats are plain and simple. Students should remember that

  • The statements should be of the person specifically required. For instance, in case if a university accepts the support of a parent/ guardian or spouse, then the statement should be of the person’s savings account. Some countries, like Sweden, require the funds to be in student’s personal account and accordingly the student should keep a check on the same. (Note: Current Account Statements are generally not accepted and hence it is always best to confirm before submitting the same.)
  • It should be a scanned copy of statements in original and not e-mail statements, duly stamped and signed by the bank. With Net-banking, often getting a statement is a click away. However, for the purpose of proving financial capacity, the bank statement must be original, on the bank’s letterhead, stamped and signed by the bank.
  • Should clearly specify the tenures required. Often, universities/ visa consulates specifically ask for 6 months’ bank statements (the tenure may vary though).

2. Loan Approval/ Disbursement Letter

Students can also provide a Loan Approval Letter as proof of funds. This is easy enough to get from the bank you have applied for a loan from. While the banks might have a set format, the letter essentially conveys the approval of the bank of loaning the specific amount to the student for his higher education abroad. Here are a few things a student should keep in mind:

  • The letter should be on bank’s letterhead, duly signed and stamped
  • The letter should clearly specify the amount of loan and the student’s name
  • Should include a promise to disburse the amount as and when specified
  • Should mention “The Loan of Rs. _____________ has been fully sanctioned and all terms and conditions are completed except disbursement.”

3. Scholarship Letters

In case you have been given a scholarship, the student can also attach the scholarship letter as evidence of financial capacity. This letter is often provided by the University/ Institution that grants the scholarship. In case you have received a Governmental Grant, you are required to attach the copy of the same as well.

4. Affidavit of Support/ Sponsorship

Strictly speaking, an Affidavit of Support is not a Financial Document but rather a validation of financial support being provided to the student. Since the document is often asked for by Universities in the USA and Australia along with Financial Proofs, we have included the same in the list.

An Affidavit of Support or Sponsorship is a notarized document on a Stamp Paper (often of INR 10 or INR 20 denomination), which clearly mentions that another person (parents/ spouse/ relative) would be sponsoring your education and paying for (or can afford) your fees and living expenses. The signed document directly binds the person to accept all financial responsibility for the cost of studying for the student. Often, the Affidavit of Support is supplemented with Proof of Income and/or Bank Letters. Things to keep in mind

  • Affidavit of Support cannot be provided by a distant relative. Often direct blood relations are required which include parents, maternal/ paternal uncles/ aunts, grand-parent. Spouse is also acceptable.
  • It should be a notarized and on the stamp paper. This is available at the local courts.
  • In case it is from an uncle/ aunt, the document should clearly mention the reason for their sponsorship + claim that they have enough funds to bear their own/ family unit expenses even after providing the sponsorship/ support to the student. A student should always check that this would be acceptable from the University.

Note:

Students applying to European Universities should note that for European Countries the Sponsorships are quite different in nature. Most of the countries do not accept support documents. They, however, accept Sponsorships from people who are residing in that country. For instance, if you are applying to Universities in France and an uncle is staying in France and is willing to take care of your expenses, then the student would be required to provide a “Letter of Sponsorship”. These are standard formats often available to students by the Visa issuing authority for that country

5. Bank Letters

Simply put these are letters that clearly mention the nature of accounts held by the student/ sponsor in the banks as well as the balance in the account. As suggestive, these are provided by the bank and should be accordingly on Bank’s official letterhead, duly signed and stamped. Here is what all the bank letter should include

  • Name of the person/ persons who hold the account with the bank
  • The kind of account (savings/ current/ joint) and the tenure of relationship (years for which the person has held the account in that bank)
  • Balance in the account/s with its converted amount along with the rate of conversion used. Ex. Savings Bank (Balance as on 31st October 2016) INR 800,000, equivalent to US$ 11,928 at a conversion rate of US $1 = INR 67.07

Note: A Bank Letter can also state the Fixed Deposits (if any) held by the sponsor. Not all countries accept FD amounts and hence students must check the individual financial documents acceptable for proof of funds for respective countries.

Download the guide on this page for a sample format for Bank Letter.

6. Loan Capability Certificate

This is a bit different from a Loan Approval Letter and is often asked by universities in the USA at the time of admission, without which they would not issue I-20s (in case you have suggested you would be requiring a loan to fulfill the fund requisites.) This document, as the name suggests, is a “Capability Certificate”, given by banks / financial institutions which suggests that they would be willing to provide a loan to the student should he get admitted to the University Abroad. Here is an example template of the same:

Again, things the Loan Capability Certificate should include the following things clearly,

  • Name of the student
  • Willingness and the prima facie promise of the bank to grant a loan
  • Amount of the loan eligibility
  • Again, it should be on the bank’s letterhead, duly signed and stamped

7. CA Certificate

Some countries also require what is commonly referred to as a CA Certificate. Prepared by a certified CA, the document specifies the actual assets held by the student/ sponsor as well as the liabilities. This essentially includes both the current assets (like a bank balance, fixed deposits, shares, bonds, etc.) as well as fixed assets (land, property, gold, etc. with an estimated value of the same). The document must be signed and stamped by the CA. Again, there is no fixed format and usually, the CAs have their own formats.

8. Property Evaluation Report

This is more common for Australia and New Zealand Visas. In case a student has applied for a Student Loan and the same was procured against property, the student is also required to attach a Property Evaluation Report alongside the Loan Approval Letter. This is a comprehensive report prepared by a competent authority (the bank/ financial institution in case of a student loan). Here is what all the Property Evaluation Report usually includes

  • Property pictures
  • Size of the property and specifications
  • Ownership proof of the property being evaluated

Banks have their own formats and you need not worry about the same. A simple mention of the same to the lending institution would suffice. At times, the same can be prepared by CAs as well.

9. GPF/ EPF Statement confirming the ability to withdraw

Many countries also accept the funds available in your/ parent/guardian’s Provident Fund Account. These are an official statement issued by the Provident Fund Disbursing Authority clearly stating the number of funds available in the account along with the ability to withdraw. In case there is a variation in the amount the person can withdraw, the letter should clearly mention the amount that can be withdrawn. Here are the things you should keep in mind

  • The statement should be on the Provident Fund Disbursing Authority’s Official Letterhead
  • It should clearly specify the name of the employee/ account holder along with the name of the student. Since the document is only valid if it is a parent, the relationship should be clearly mentioned as well
  • It should specify the total amount available along with the withdrawable limits
  • The letter should clearly state that the withdrawals are “non-refundable/ permanent” in nature
  • Name, contact details of the signing authority along with the stamp should be clearly mentioned as well

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