Studying abroad has never been easy. Apart from qualifying for the stringent requirements of an overseas education and the cultural adjustment needed to live in a foreign country, students have to find a way to pay for the course and cost of living. Given the unfavourable exchange rate (which has only gotten worse in recent years), an aspiring student from India has to look at an outlay of over 30 lakhs for a two-year post-graduate course in the USA, and even more for countries like the UK or mainland Europe.
This makes it important to make proper arrangements for funding one’s overseas education. In fact, at the time of the visa interview, one of the most important questions that an aspiring student will have to answer is ‘How do you plan to fund your education’. This is vitally important because the overseas’ student’s ability to fund himself (often at higher fees than local students) without placing strain on already-scarce scholarships is critical to the decision to grant a Visa.
So what should Indian students do to try and make the necessary arrangements for funding?
1. Scholarships and grants
Despite their scarcity, most Universities do keep an allocation of scholarships for truly meritorious students. Typically if your academic record has been good, your GRE / GMAT scores are in the highest percentile and your application shows you are a top-quality candidate, you have a chance of being selected for a full or partial scholarship. Keep in mind that such scholarships often come with riders attached for academic performance and so on, and are subject to review after each semester.
2. Personal loans
For most Indian students, their biggest backers are their parents. Keep in mind that if you are going to state your parents’ wealth as your source of funding your degree, you will have to prepare and show a statement of their income and assets at the time of visa interviews and maybe as a part of your college application as well. If you are going to get a loan from any other person, such as a relative already living abroad, their financial records should also be made available.
3. Education loans
Probably the most common form of funding for students in India, many banks offer education loans to students who wish to study abroad. Banks like State Bank of India and HDFC offer such loans at reasonable rates. SBI in particular offers loans upto Rs 1 crore. Of course, in such cases, a co-borrower with strong financial standing (typically a parent) and a tangible security like FD’s, NSC, Gold etc. will have to be placed with the bank.
4. Grants within India
Apart from scholarships and grants from the foreign University itself, deserving students from economically weaker sections are eligible for grants from the government of charitable foundations for their overseas education. Many of these are specific to certain universities and have very stringent requirements.
Some of these grants include:
- a. The Dr. Manmohan Singh scholarship
- b. The Fulbright-Nehru scholarship
- c. Rhodes scholarship for Oxford University
- d. Commonwealth Scholarship
All in all, the decision to study abroad is a major one and should not be taken without due thought. Also, arranging for the funds should be taken in the context of the future prospects of the student after completing the course. But when the time is right and if the course is truly worthwhile, do not be afraid to make the investment needed to make it happen.