Written by: Amos Fong | Aureus Consulting
The numerous advantages of studying abroad have often been proclaimed in the press and by higher education experts. With benefits like instilling independence and cultural sensitivity, along with promoting educational exposure, the perceived prestige and diverse networking prospects that an international education brings, it is unsurprising that an increasing number of students leave their countries every year to pursue their degrees overseas.
However, studying abroad can be extremely costly.
Here, we will cover five alternate ways to fund your studies that may help alleviate the strain on your (or your family’s) personal finances.
University Financial Aid, Bursaries and Scholarships.
Before you look anywhere else, note that most universities offer some form of financial aid to students from underprivileged backgrounds. If you meet the necessary criteria, this is definitely an option you should consider. Some top US universities offer Need-Blind and Full-Need Admissions to international students, while others offer partial financial aid. If financial aid isn’t for you, it might be worthwhile to look into the scholarships offered by your university. Academic scholarships usually don’t include a bond, though they often come with certain academic conditions to be met. But if you’re looking into alternate sources of finance and intend to work hard at maintaining your academic performance anyway (we hope), academic scholarships should be an attractive option for you. Universities in different countries like the US and UK offer different ranges of scholarships, so do your research!
Public Sector Scholarships.
While we’re on the topic, another important scholarship provider is the public sector. A public sector scholarship often generates mixed opinions, with many lamenting that it often comes with strings attached (Singapore: 6 year bond). There is also a common concern that by working for a governmental organization, you will lose out to your counterparts in the private sector, deal constantly with bureaucracy and not necessarily do work related to your field of study. However, others view it as guaranteed employment and job security upon graduation, a chance to obtain insights into public sector organizations and a valuable opportunity to broaden their skills and expand their networks. Whether you dream of entering a public sector career or feel that obtaining the funds to pursue your education trumps all, do give some thought before committing to this option. And don’t be surprised if you face heavy competition when applying. With their guarantee of employment upon graduation and generous financial coverage, public sector scholarships are an increasingly attractive option to many.
Private Sector Scholarships.
If you’re looking for the financial coverage of a scholarship without the purported red tape and bureaucracy endemic to a public sector career, maybe you should consider a private sector scholarship instead. While not as common as public sector scholarships, they are industry-specific and as scholars are often groomed into management positions within their parent organization, this can provide a valuable springboard into your ideal career after graduation. As with public scholarships, private sector scholarships often come with a bond and academic conditions to meet. However, these scholarships are often more subject-specific, so you might face less competition when applying.
If you work, your employer might sponsor you to take a relevant full-time course, on the condition that you continue working for them for a given period after graduation. While this is similar to a private sector scholarship, the key difference is that rather than having a dedicated sponsorship program, firms are more likely to offer funding on an ad-hoc basis to existing employees who can present a convincing case. Sponsorships are also usually limited for graduate studies for those who already possess work experience and whose employer sees a Return on Investment in developing them further.
Finally, there are dreaded educational loans. While often perceived as a last resort, educational loans can be a welcome source of finance to some, considering that they often don’t involve collateral and sometimes only need to be repaid once the student has started working. However, student loan terms differ drastically between countries, so it is recommended that you check with your country’s student loan providers. Of course, in today’s economy, employment prospects are rather dim and no one wants to graduate saddled with debt. But if you’ve committed yourself to pursuing an overseas education and think paying back a loan for a few years after graduation is a necessary evil, this might be an option for you.
Regardless if you are experiencing financial difficulties or merely wish to lighten the load on your family’s finances, many different sources of funding are available for those who intend to study overseas. A quality education is always a worthwhile investment, so explore your options by speaking to your university and local scholarship providers, or seek the advice of individuals who have embarked on this journey before.
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