Education abroad is recognized for what it is: the #1 most powerful tool for anyone to take their career to the next level. With this recognition comes a higher cost as well. Since you are looking to get the best education on the planet, you will need to pay that cost.
However, some students worry more about the cost of education abroad than they need to. Yes, the cost of some degrees in the top universities worldwide can be high. This is never prohibitive, though: multiple support structures exist to reduce this cost, to avail of scholarships, and to make sure that you can afford to chase your dreams.
Here is Jamboree’s detailed feature on how you can finance your studies abroad. Follow this step by step guide, and the financial part of getting your degree will become just another problem that you solve on your journey to assured career success.
Scholarships are the #1 way to finance studies abroad
Every highly ranked university in the world offers a number of scholarships for the use of its students. In some cases, well above half the class might avail of one or more scholarships. Data on scholarships is always college specific; the high profile ones always have details on the university website or intranet, and a full list can be obtained from the relevant academic office.
Application for scholarships is a very important process, and should be given as much care as your application. Once your application is finalized, you can look at the deadlines for application for your scholarships of interest in your university, and start preparing for the same. Financial statements will need to be furnished in most cases, and many scholarships will require you to write a detailed essay as well. The time spent on this will be very valuable, though – it could lead to saving tens of thousands of dollars in tuition fees. If you apply for the right set of scholarships, you are likely to be awarded one or more (the total scholarship fund per university is usually in the millions of dollars per year, and there is no strict upper cap on the number of awardees for every scholarship). Do your due diligence, and a scholarship will be awarded to you.
In addition to scholarships, partial tuition fee waivers and bursaries should also be explored. In very high cost degrees like MBAs, where the total cost including tuition and housing often exceeds $200K, partial tuition fee waivers are available to students from countries like India, which have an unfavourable exchange rate conversion to the dollar. A large proportion (for example, 50%) of the tuition fee is waived permanently by the university, and does not need to be repaid. The application process for this is also simpler than the typical process to apply for and be awarded a scholarship. A bursary or grant is similar, but is usually earmarked for cases of financial need, closer to a scholarship.
Government scholarships should be explored separately from university specific scholarships
The Government of India runs various schemes that you could benefit from; a quick search on India’s Overseas Scholarships for Study will give you the criteria, and help you check whether you qualify for any of them. These are unlikely to fully fund your education in any college abroad, but could help pay for a chunk of your tuition fees, without disqualifying you for any university specific scholarships.
The converse is also true for some governments: Slovenia, South Korea, and a few Commonwealth countries (for example, New Zealand) offer a small number of scholarships for Indian students who wish to study in their countries. The application process is long and tedious, but is a way to hugely reduce costs involved. Details of the nomination and application process can be found on the MHRD’s Sakshat website.
At graduate levels, there are multiple programs run by world governments: for example, the prestigious Fulbright Program for Foreign Students is open to most students worldwide who want to pursue a Master’s or PhD in the USA. Similarly, the IDRC Awards are for postgrad students wishing to conduct research studies in Canada.
All government programs are typically more selective than university specific programs, but are also, by the same token, more prestigious. With careful research and application for the right set, you can increase your chances of securing one of these.
Look at different countries for options with low tuition fees / affordable student housing
In case you want to reduce the amount of student loans that you take up, you can look at countries like Germany, where most public universities have no tuition fees, even for international students. Qualification criteria are strict, and may require knowledge of German, but the quality of education is high, and you will need to worry only about housing costs. In addition, other countries in Europe like Italy have relatively low costs of student housing, and provincially located universities with high ranks are often cheaper (from a cost of living perspective) than universities located in big cities.
Education loans are a good way to cover the education costs that scholarships, jobs and waivers cannot take care of
Depending on the total cost of your education abroad, you could get a partial tuition fee waiver, but still need additional funds to cover the initial cost of housing, registration, study materials and so on. There are many options to raise these funds, and the best way is to avail of an education loan from a trusted bank. Make sure that you look at a bank that has flexible pay back options in terms of the period of repayment. Of course, the interest rate is a key parameter as well. Before this step, you should spend as much time in research on scholarships and waivers so that the loan amount is as low as possible.
At graduate level, Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships substantially supplement student income
Grad students can apply for Assistantships, where they could assist a Professor in the conduct of a classroom or lab course, either by grading assignments or by maintaining office hours to solve doubts and to run tutorials. A few research assistant roles might also be available from time to time, with work on specific projects of interest in a funded laboratory on campus. These roles come with a significant stipend per semester; this is able to offset a significant part of the tuition fees in most cases. This system makes it much easier for grad students to find gainful employment on campus to help fund their studies, given that they do not have substantial extra time to look for different jobs on campus.
A few universities are opening up teaching and research assistant roles to exceptionally talented undergraduates as well, though this is likely to always be very limited in number of seats and scope.
On campus jobs are a good way for undergraduates (and some grad students) to offset costs and student loans
Scholarships reduce liabilities before you reach campus, and campus jobs reduce liabilities after you settle into your new community. Depending on the conditions of your student visa, you should be able to work for up to 20 hours per week in most geographies without much difficulty. Once you build a network in the university, or even if you just pay attention to job publicity announcements, you should be able to lock down a part time job for a few hours a week close to your housing, by which you are able to lessen the burden of your investment on education.
It is important to choose a part time job that does not interfere with your primary goal of acquiring a good education and a strong degree, but a well chosen job will significantly reduce your loan burden, and give you an additional income stream to significantly improve your quality of life.
Student prizes are a viable way to supplement income
If you are a research oriented undergraduate, or an academically excellent undergraduate or graduate student, you could qualify for student prizes: most universities abroad have multiple such awards every year – ranging from some for high academic GPA rankers, to awards for best papers and best theses. This can vary hugely from university to university. In most colleges, academic prizes can pay as much as several months of a part time job, so their financial impact is definitely appreciable.
Of all the ways enumerated in this detailed feature, this is probably the lowest probability method. Being in the top 1% of students at one of the world’s top universities is not easy, and the level of competition is high. Therefore, this should be used only as a pleasant bonus, rather than as something you count upon.
For graduate students and for undergrads in their senior year, a summer internship is a great way to make a lot of money in a small amount of time
Highly qualified students from top ranked universities abroad are in demand in the workforce – both in the corporate sector and in the research wings of companies. The salaries paid to these interns (who are just a year away from joining the workforce) are competitive, and are often only about 20% lower than they would be for a full time employee in an entry level position. More and more students are spending time before the summer of their final year on networking with respected recruiters on campus to secure attractive internships.
Not only does this provide students a way to earn a large amount of money quickly, and further make a substantial dent in their loan payback plan, it is also a very sound career move. Strong performance in the internship can lead to a Pre-Placement Offer (PPO), and hence additional job security even before the placement season starts. A PPO is also a good way to signal to other companies that you are a candidate who is in demand, and this can increase the starting salary that you can command by up to 10%, as employers fight to be your destination of choice.
Once again, we recognize that financing your studies abroad is a major concern, and that it should definitely weigh on your mind. However, there exist multiple avenues to make sure that you can take care of the cost of your degree easily, so that you can shift it to the side of your mind, and concentrate on getting a five star education experience abroad, and on changing the world.
To find out more about which degree is perfect for you, and about how you can finance that degree with a minimum of effort, speak to our experts today! Head over to jamboreeindia.com to find out how you can contact us.