While pursuing an undergraduate degree abroad can be a life-changing intellectual experience, there are very few of us who are in the lucky position where money is of no object. The cost of a foreign undergraduate degree seems to be galloping, aided in part by the falling rupee. International students, who do not have the advantages of tax breaks, citizenship benefits or the scholarships and loans that are generally provided to the country’s students, may need to set aside anywhere from $40,000-65,000 per year, to cover tuition, fees and living costs, depending on the institution.
There is no denying that for most families, sending a child abroad to study is an expensive proposition. It is therefore very important to explore all avenues for financial aid for your child. Here, we list some of the options available:
- Full scholarships
- College – sponsored loans/grants
- Foreign and Indian private/corporate trusts
- Corporate sponsorships for employees’ children
- Working part-time while studying
- Bank loans
Full-tuition scholarships are the Holy Grail of college scholarships — the dream of most families! These scholarship awards can cover anything from just the student’s tuition to all of her living expenses, depending on the terms. Full-tuition scholarships are usually offered by universities, corporates and foundations. The most common of these are merit-based academic scholarships, awarded based on SAT or ACT scores, excellent academic performance in high school, community service experience, or other criteria, by a college, university, or the state higher education agency. While scholarships granted by the college obviously require the student to attend the specific college, corporate and foundation scholarships typically give students the freedom to attend college where they choose. University funding is possible mainly in the US; universities in countries like the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand do not usually offer international students full scholarships.
Do remember, however, that full scholarships are intensely competitive, and you should not pin your hopes on getting one (Warning — in certain colleges, applying for a scholarship either in part or in full, reduces your child’s chances of admission). In addition, sponsors of these scholarships, whether they be the college or any other organisation, demand that the student keeps up an excellent academic performance throughout in order to continue benefitting from the scholarship. Also, if the scholarship is need-based and there is a change in the financial circumstances of the student, any significant change in income will directly impact the quantity of aid. Last, the college may demand an additional demonstration of student commitment, like working for 100 hours a year — this can make a serious dent in the time available for study. There are many part-scholarships available to students, and awards of $1000 or $2000 can add up quickly, with every dollar your child receives in scholarships being a dollar you won’t have to pay back in student loans. Do bear in mind that every scholarship involves a great deal of paperwork, and you should carefully keep track of your various applications!