Getting a college education is undoubtedly one of the biggest expenses of our lives. It not only affects the financial situation of the young student for years to come, but is also a major challenge for parents and their limited family budgets.
Regardless of this, studying abroad is recommended for a range of reasons. Exposure to a vibrant and global cultural milieu, opportunity to have an educational experience that can never be had at home, better career options post-college, and a chance to build a wonderful network of friends all over the world are a few of them. Studying abroad helps you develop a broader outlook towards life and be more accepting of foreign cultures.
In this post, we take a look at how you can make studying abroad more accessible and create less of a dent in yours and your parents’ wallet.
1. Know Monetary Aids Being Doled Out
Even with all its advantages, studying abroad is definitely expensive. It is necessary to start planning and budgeting for your overseas studies as early as possible. Also, it is important that you are familiar with the various grants, aids and scholarships available to foreign students. There are special grants for students from troubled regions, underprivileged communities, people getting back to school to enhance their skills, and for women.
Some countries that offer the most economic aid to international students include China, South Korea, USA, France, and Germany. The last two make it to the list because several schools and colleges offer free or nearly free tuition to students. China and other countries like New Zealand and Australia value skilled labor and actively encourage students to pursue education and career opportunities there.
The key is to zero down on countries which are short of manpower, or have a sparse population, or have a large number of educational institutions competing with each other to increase intake, and then explore educational opportunities that suit your needs.
2. Know Your Destination
The U.S., the U.K. and Australia are the most sought after destinations for international students and the top destinations for American students for the year 2017 include Italy, Spain, England, France, and Germany. European countries are favored by students for the amazing culture, fabulous food, beautiful locales, and the fascinating history of the cities.
It is important to do your research well and be familiar with the opportunities and prospects of studying in various countries. A lot depends on the availability of scholarships and grants as well. It will always make sense to choose a university where international students have access to financial aid.
Other parameters to consider include the choice of subjects and courses available, demographics, sport participation, quality of teaching, and the success of placement programs.
Some of the cheapest, but high-quality overseas destinations are Berlin (where public universities offer free education to all students irrespective of nationality), Warsaw, Kuala Lumpur, Munich and Vienna, with low cost of living making them attractive to international students. Affordable tuition fees, diverse and vibrant cultures, and the competitive advantage gained on successful graduation are other notable benefits.
3. Do Not Let Money Hinder Your Dreams
If cost is not a major concern Italy, Spain, England, and Germany rank among the top favorites for American students. London and other major cities in these countries can have a high cost of living, but the experience is worth the price.
Cutting down day-to-day expenses will help you manage other study-related costs. International students get an opportunity to learn about managing finances and making the most of what they have.
Apps like Onavo Extend (iOS, Android) and GroupMe (iOS, Android and Windows) help you save valuable mobile data, and apps like Stay (iOS and Android) and TaxiFareFinder (browser based) help you get around your college town on the cheap. Skyscanner (iOS, Android) and Moving Guru (iOS, Android) help you travel across continents on the cheap, whereas sites like Freebies.org and dormco.com offer cheap dorm décor. Save money wherever you can and an expensive college abroad will seem more affordable!
4. Women Students Have Plenty to Choose From
Women students have traditionally made up the majority of American students who seek to study abroad. In 2004-05, 65.5% of students leaving for foreign colleges and schools were women. In 2014-15, the percentage of women students abroad increased to 66.6%. Women students with foreign educational credentials are expected to earn better GPAs, bag well-paying jobs, and report higher job satisfaction as compared to those who chose not to explore the world.
Also, most of the best and highly-popular college cities and towns are also safe for women and offer a great quality of life.
5. What Is the Funding Open to You?
Several financial assistance programs open to students can fund their dream of studying abroad. Federal grants, loans and scholarships are available to deserving students; and all you need to do is fill up the necessary application forms and wait for a reply.
Federal Pell Grant is a widely-availed need-based loan that helps undergraduate students pursue full-time, part-time, semester-wise or full-year courses abroad.
Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunities Grant (SEOG) is allocated for students with the greatest financial need, and need not be repaid after your course is over.
Federal loans include Federal Stafford Loan that is given to deserving students irrespective of their financial status.
Federal Perkins Loan is given to financially disadvantaged students.
The best option available to meritorious students are scholarships like David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships and Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The former is awarded to undergraduate students who want to pursue courses to know more about foreign cultures or languages. The latter is meant for financially needy students who are recipients of the Pell grant as well. Note that this scholarship is not available to students studying in Australia, New Zealand or Canada.
These are the aid options open to all students. Women-specific scholarships to support overseas studies are not many, but there are plenty of scholarships tailored for women students and can be used to pursue education abroad. Explore your options with the Emerge Scholarship Program, The SWE Scholarship Program, Baker Hughes Scholarship Program, The International Federation of University Women program or the Boston University Study Abroad programs.
Studying abroad will give you an international living, studying and working experience like none other. This will greatly improve and increase your chances of getting better career opportunities and pave your way for excellent growth prospects.