International Students Immigration Blog

How to Drastically Reduce or Even Eliminate Your Day 1 CPT Costs

Study at a Day 1 CPT University for free


Many international students who are not selected in the H1B lottery and have their OPT expire often opt to enroll in a new university that supports Day 1 CPT. This allows them to continue gaining practical experience in their field while expanding their knowledge through further education.

However, most Day 1 CPT universities typically charge between $10,000 to $15,000 per year, with even the most affordable schools costing around $8,000 per year. In this blog, I will share with you several strategies that can significantly reduce your education expenses, potentially even allowing you to attend a Day 1 CPT program at zero cost.


Strategy 1: Employer Tuition Assistance Programs

Employer tuition assistance programs are a valuable resource that many companies in the U.S. provide to support their employees' educational goals. Major corporations like Starbucks, ExxonMobil, and Chrysler are known for offering comprehensive tuition reimbursement programs that cover a significant portion of college and even graduate school expenses.

Top 55 Companies With Tuition Reimbursement Programs

If your current employer does not have a tuition assistance program in place, don't hesitate to start a conversation with your HR department or manager. It's worth exploring the possibility of implementing such a benefit, especially since under IRS policies, employers can deduct up to $5,250 per year for educational assistance provided to employees.

So, take the initiative to inquire about tuition reimbursement policies at your workplace and make the most of this valuable benefit.

IRS Tax Code 127 allows for a tax deduction of up to $5,250.
IRS Tax Code 127 allows for a tax deduction of up to $5,250.


Strategy 2: IRS Education Tax Benefits

The IRS offers a range of tax benefits designed to ease the financial strain of pursuing higher education. These benefits include tax deductions and credits specifically aimed at covering educational expenses.

One such example is the Lifetime Learning Credit, which allows you to claim a tax refund of 20% of your tuition fees, up to $2,000 in tax credits annually.

To take advantage of these benefits, you will need to refer to Form 1098-T, provided by your school to detail your paid tuition and related fees. It's advisable to seek guidance from a tax professional or make use of IRS resources to fully understand how you can maximize these provisions to your advantage.

D1CU Photos (2)
Form 1098-T 


Strategy 3: Scholarships

Many Day 1 CPT universities provide scholarships for international students, which can significantly reduce the cost of education. Scholarships may range from a few thousand dollars to covering the full tuition, depending on the institution and the student's academic or extracurricular achievements.

For example, Westcliff University offers following various scholarship opportunities for international students, helping to make education more affordable for those seeking financial assistance.

  • Distinguished Scholarships — $10,000
    • Awarded to a select number of students who demonstrate an aptitude for excellence, a grand vision for the future, and a keen sense of social responsibility to leave the world a better place when they are gone.
  • Scholarships for Outstanding Achievement Recognition (SOAR) — $5,000
    • Established for high-performing students who demonstrate a commitment to excellence in pursuit of a master’s/doctorate degree at Westcliff.
  • Building Leaders for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity (BLEND) Scholarships — $2,500
    • Established for accomplished international students who are pursuing a degree at Westcliff in order to create a more inclusive world in their field of study.

Although obtaining the $10,000 Distinguished Scholarships may be challenging, many of our students have successfully received the SOAR or BLEND scholarships.

Click here to learn scholarships at different Day 1 CPT universities.

Day 1 CPT Scholarships


Combining these financial strategies—employer tuition assistance, IRS educational tax benefits, and scholarships—can significantly reduce your financial burden while studying at a Day 1 CPT university. Each method has its own requirements and benefits, and when used together, they can provide substantial financial relief. Remember, the goal is not just to manage costs but to enhance your educational and professional journey in the U.S.

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