It’s true that many financial aid opportunities are limited to US citizens and permanent residents. However, the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) does list a number of fellowship opportunities specifically for international students, as well as a group of internal MIT fellowships, all of which are open to international students, and internal MIT awards. Additionally, the ODGE Manager of Graduate Fellowships is in the process of identifying and publicizing other opportunities for internationals as part of the strategic work of the office.
Many on campus employment opportunities (paid by MIT) are available to international students who meet the eligibility criteria, e.g. Research Assistantships, Teaching Assistantships, positions as a Graduate Community Fellow, or a Graduate Resident Tutor. Students should check with their academic or thesis advisors, department administrators and/or the ODGE to see what on campus employment or fellowship opportunities may be available for them.
International students unfortunately are subject to some fairly stringent immigration regulations especially when it comes to off campus employment in the US. However, as long as the student meets the strict eligibility criteria and applies in time, immigration does allow benefits like Optional Practical Training (OPT), Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Academic Training (AT). These types of employment benefits for international students may be applicable to some off campus internships during the summer and during IAP. We recommend that students check with the International Students Office (ISO) to explore the possibilities.
There are also additional MIT-funded opportunities for international students: Internships and research abroad through MISTI, which provides money to cover their travel and living expenses. The Graduate Student Council (GSC) offers travel grants to support students with conference travel expenses. The ODGE Graduate Student Life Grants offer funding for community-building events or programs.
Finally, the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education is currently considering ways to create more opportunities for international students. We would love to hear your suggestions.