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 will 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 and How to Get it?
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 the fee but also normal living expenses and others for the duration of their stay in the country. Some universities ask for the same, but only after sending you an admission offer. Irrespective of 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. At many foreign universities, this is a prerequisite for obtaining a student visa. Usually, one can demonstrate his/her proof of funds through his/her letter of support from a sponsor, scholarship awards letters, bank statements, etc. How much would the value of funds will depend upon the university/college or country you're targetting. So make sure that before you move forward with your application, you're aware of all the correct financial requirements.
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The costs include two chief components:
- Fees and other University charges
Students are often required to make payment for this component in advance to confirm their admission offer. Since the payment is done upfront, 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, 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 an 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.)
- Living Expenses
Most 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 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 Country
Statutory Fund Requirements for Living Expenses*
CAD $10,000 for every year of your intended stay
£1,334 per month for a University situated in London or £1,023 per month for anywhere other than London
AUD $ 21,041 per year
€ 867 per month of stay
€ 615 for each month of stay
€ 850 per month for the period of stay
SEK 9,450 or $1,000 per month
€ 7000 as living expenses for every year of stay
*Subject to change
Note for USA: For admissions to Universities in the USA, Financial Proof is 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 do 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 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.
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 the 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).
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 a 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 the bank’s letterhead, duly signed and stamped
- The letter should clearly specify the amount of the 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.”
Download the guide on this page for sample formats of the Loan Approval Letter.
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 a copy of the same as well. Read: Study Abroad Scholarships
Download this guide to read it offline
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 Proof, 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, and grand-parent. Spouse is also acceptable.
- It should be notarized and on 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 to the University.
Students applying to European Universities should note that for European Countries the Sponsorships are quite different in nature. Most 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.
Download the guide on this page for sample format for Affidavit of Support.
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 letters 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 the 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 of 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.
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 fulfil 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
Download the guide on this page for sample format for Loan Capability 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.
Download the guide on this page for sample format CA Certificate.
Property Evaluation Report
This is more common for Australian 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.
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 official statements 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
Download the guide on this page for sample format for PF Letter.
|Student Visa for USA
|Student Visa for Canada
|Student Visa for UK
|Student Visa for Australia
|Student Visa for Germany
|Student Visa for Singapore
|Student Visa for France
|Student Visa for New Zealand
Financial Documents FAQs
Q. When can I apply for a student visa?
A. We get lots of questions regarding this and usually, students think that they apply for a student visa directly. However, this is not the case as you can only apply for Student Study Visa after securing an admit from an university. The university would send you an acceptance mail/letter and along with it, the necessary documents you need to procure and their fee structure. You will receive a payment link for the acceptance fee. After paying the acceptance fee, you can file for a student visa. As it is a lengthy process, you are advised to keep all documents ready once you have paid the acceptance deposit to the university. It is important to remember that you cannot apply for a visa unless you pay the acceptance fee to the university.
Q. What are some Visa preparation tips?
A. Getting acceptance from your dream university is just a battle half won. The rest of the effort goes into filling for a visa and preparing for the interview. Along with preparing your financial documents, you can start preparing for your visa interview. To get help with visa interviews, read Interview Tips for Student Visa.
Q. Are bank statements verified by the embassy?
A. Yes, indeed. It is a crucial part of your documentation and thus, the bank statements should not be tampered with. Your bank statements can be sent for verification at any point. If the Embassy feels that it requires to be checked, then your bank statements will be under scrutiny until complete verification. Thus, it is advised to avoid sending fake or forged financial documents to the Embassy.
Q. In case of missing financial document, how to procure it?
A. In case of a missing financial document, applicants can raise a query or request and ask for the required documents In case of an emergency where the applicant cannot go to the respective institution to procure the financial document, applicants can raise a query for e-document which can be easily mailed to the applicant after a couple of background checks. Thus, there are various ways of getting the financial document and applicants can also get them in lesser timeframe than expected.
Q. Can I submit fake financial documents for visa or admission and later submit original copies?
A. Applicants should abstain from resorting to unfair means like submitting fake copies of the financial documents. These are risky steps which should be avoided at all costs by anyone who is filing a visa or admission application abroad. The consequences can be very severe, from hefty fines to banishment from the country. Thus, applicants should ideally submit original document copies only and avoid submitting fake copies of financial or any other document that may be required at some point of time.