How to fund your Master’s Degree in a Foreign Country?

Millions of students embark on the journey to study abroad either for graduate studies or a specialized 12 months program. Maybe 10% of them have enough family funds to support their study abroad dreams and aspirations while 90% or so fund their education through a mix of savings, loans, work-study programs, scholarships, etc. So, how easy is it to pursue (and fund) a Master’s degree in a foreign country such as the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Russia, China, etc? If you have “will”, you will find a “way”!

My Own Story of Studying Masters Abroad

My father, who came from a middle-class family in India, came to the US to pursue his graduate studies at Kansas State University. He did not have a scholarship or enough family funds to support his studies. Since he had s strong desire to study abroad, he took a loan in India for his higher studies and made his way to the US.

Once he was a student at the university, he found ways through his hard work to not only earn for his living but also to pay for his 4 years of study, loans, and some savings through a mix of study work programs and assistantship.

20 years later, he influenced all his children to take the same path of higher studies in the US without a formal offer of a scholarship from the beginning. All of us came to the US for graduate studies with a mix of loans, savings to start with, and find ways to fund our education through a mix of work and assistantship upon joining the university.

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The same approach has been used by millions of students for the last 50+ years to embark on their journey of foreign studies irrespective of their native country. If you are a student who does not have deep pockets to fund your study abroad education, here are a few tools you can use to fund your education:

Focus on overall cost for first 12 months

Look for countries and colleges which are not too expensive in terms of the overall budget. Instead of thinking about the cost of the full program, look at what it may cost you for the first 12 months. As part of the costs, focus on tuition fees, cost of renting an apartment as cost of food, travel can be easily managed.

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If you look at the US, there are hundreds of colleges, some in large expense cities and some in small towns where the cost of living may be half of what other large expense cities may have. Also, the tuition rates per credit hour vary across colleges between private, large public, and state universities.

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    Savings

    If you are interested in pursuing study abroad, save some funds for your initial start at a college. Many colleges and banks providing loans will look for a student or student+parent to fund about 10-20% of the education costs.

    Loans

    In today’s global economy with so much capital floating around, there are a number of startups and new banks (Neobanks) that are looking at entering the lending business. It may be far easier to get loans for your education today than any time during the last 30-40 years. However, as you take the loan, make sure you look at the terms around origination fees, interest rates, payment terms, and pre-payment terms. Read more about Study Abroad Loans without Collateral.

    Scholarships

    Many universities have options of scholarships and assistantships. However, it is getting tougher each year to get a scholarship unless you know the professors, have a stellar academic record, or are already at the campus to know which scholarships and assistantships (research, teaching, lab, etc.) are available.

    Work-Study programs

    This option opens up once the student is at the university. There are always hundreds of jobs within the campus that are filled by student workers. These jobs can be working in the cafeteria, gym, labs, transportation, and many other areas. This is another option for students who are willing to work hard, earn money to support their education, and also focus on their courses. Read more about the Work-Study programs in the US and Canada.

    In summary, there are ways a student or parent of a student can fund study abroad. It just requires pushing the boundaries, exploring and researching your options, and being flexible and focused.
    If you are confused and need more guidance, contact our team at [email protected] or book a session with a guidance counselor.

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    Ajay Singh
    Ajay is the co-founder of Stoodnt and spent 20+ years in senior leadership roles with companies such as American Express, Cendant and Intel prior to starting Stoodnt. He has a M.B.A. from Harvard, M.S. in Computer Engineering from U.T. Austin and B.Tech from I.I.T Roorkee (India).
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