Most common options to fund your Higher Education Abroad

Arranging for the cost of higher education is as nerve-wracking as qualifying for the course itself. While this is true for education within India as well, it becomes a particular concern for overseas studies, since exchange rates and cost-of-living can inflate costs considerably.

Higher Education Abroad

In this context, let us look at some of the most common ways students from India should look to fund their higher education abroad.

1. Financial Aid from the University

Universities offer scholarships and grants for deserving students. Apply for as many of these as you can, but only after checking that you meet the eligibility requirements. Remember, they do not all want geniuses and prodigies, and even if they do, you won’t know until you apply.

2. Government programs

Both the Indian government and destination country governments often have scholarship programs for students. Explore these in detail, and make you apply in time, since these approvals etc. would take longer than a University grant or private scholarship. These may not cover the entire cost of education, but they are worth exploring all the same. Once again, eligibility criteria and application formats must be followed.

3. Teaching and Research assistantships

These are programs that allow students of post-graduate and doctoral courses to receive funding in exchange for time spent in a teaching or research role with a senior professor. This is more common in Engineering or technical subjects, and not so much in MBA or medicine programs. They provide experience for the students as well are a cost-effective way for Universities to provide aid, so these are more common than scholarships. If you receive a TA or RA, you will be required to contribute a certain amount of hours to teaching or research-related activities. In return, you will either receive a concession in your tuition fee or a stipend. Ensure your working hours do not violate the restrictions of your student visa, however, as this could get you deported.

4. Donations from Charities and Trusts

Several charitable organisation and quasi-NGO’s offer scholarships and grants for deserving students. Once again, applying to as many as possible, after checking the eligibility requirements, is essential to getting one.

5. Employer contributions

If you are starting your higher studies after a period of employment, and the degree you seek to pursue is related to the field you are working in, explore the possibility of your employer sponsoring a part of your expenses. At the very least, a low-cost loan may be possible. This may come with riders regarding future employment, so choose wisely before making a decision.

6. Student loans from Banks

Student loans are fairly easily available in India and are at a lower rate than commercial loans. After exhausting the modes of funding highlighted above, you can approach banks for a loan to make up the difference. Ensure your documentation and collateral is in place to ensure your application is not rejected.

7. Student part-time jobs

Most foreign countries allow students to work for a certain number of hours to earn money while pursuing a course of study. This allows you to take an on-campus or off-campus job that will go some way towards defraying the cost of your studies. Be open-minded and willing to take up any employment that comes your way, and remember that outside of India, work is not associated with social status, especially for students, who are expected to take on menial jobs to pay for their education.

8. Using personal funds

And last but not least, you can always use your own savings to pay for your education. There’s always the option of borrowing from relatives, too, but avoid burning through too much of your parents money unless you have concrete plans to pay them back.

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Kunal is an ex-banker with a (largely self-proclaimed) flair for writing. He is an associate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and an MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), Mumbai.

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