Why does money always have to be the limiting factor when it comes to fulfilling your dreams of studying abroad? Most of you aspiring for a sky-high career probably spent nights browsing through brochures of dream schools like MIT, Harvard, Yale or Wharton. An “oh-so-stellar” profile with GMAT scores reaching 700 points, work experiences at good companies, and great GPA’s might be there to back you up but your juggernaut stops at a point where you see the hundreds of dollars in tuition fees. Well, at the end of this blog I assure you, you will think different about this very situation
Know that money is never a limiting factor for US education
There are great ways to attend the best schools in town at the price of a 2008 Honda Civic. Sorry Honda, nothing personal. Before you read any further, let me make it clear that this is not a list of hacks or gimmicks to help reduce your stress of funding your education. This is just a perfect reference guide (or rather an attempt at being perfect) to help you save some, or in most cases, a lot of your money for studying abroad.
Understand the different ways of reducing the financial burden of US education
Just to give you a little background, I attended one of the best business schools in the United States with a not-so-stellar GMAT score and not a lot of work experience and I received a 100% scholarship before I left my home country, plus even got paid for my health insurance and travel, by my school. Cool right? Well, I feel its important that I share my findings and experiences with you to help you get the same out of your education. So here’s what you should be doing instead of knowing front doors of your banks to get a student loan.
Reach out to the school for help. Nothing beats that.
The biggest mistake most students make when applying to schools is thinking that US schools do not solicit any requests for scholarships or tuition waivers outside of their usual norms. You cannot be more wrong if you are someone who thinks of that to be true. The US is always hungry for bright foreign brains. The US economy is built that way and schools are a major attraction to top talent from overseas. And to fulfill that commitment schools will go above and beyond to give merit-based scholarships to deserving students. Browse through the school’s website and apply to any available tuition waivers. Some schools require you to fill out a separate scholarship application and submit along with your admission application. Some automatically consider all international students for foreign aid.
Scholarships funded by government and private bodies
No matter how much the schools offer in scholarship, you can still offset some more with a plethora of international scholarships available to worthy students. Most of them do not charge you a dime to apply. If you get through, you just saved yourself a few bucks at least. The internet is your best friend when it comes to finding the ones that fit your profile. The Fulbright-Nehru Awards for example, enable the most outstanding students, academics and professionals in India and the U.S. to study, research and teach in the host country. Make use of great resources like StudyUSA.com or InternationalScholarships.com that list out the types of scholarships, eligibility criteria, and timelines for each.
Graduate and Teaching Assistantship
Say you did not make the cut on the school tuition waiver or the other scholarships. There’s still hope. US schools offer great ways for full-time students to pay for the courses throughout the semester. A graduate assistant(GA) is a person who serves in a support role at a university, usually while completing post-graduate education. A Teaching Assistant(TA) is an individual who assists a teacher with instructional responsibilities. Rather than receive hourly wages, GAs and TA’s are often remunerated in the form of a stipend or waived fees on courses at the school. Speak to the school Admissions Office or the Center for International Students (every US school has one). Get to know your options and the likelihood of getting an assistantship at the school.
Curricular Practical Training
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is sort of like being employed while studying through your Master’s program in the US. It includes alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other types of required internship which is offered by sponsoring employers to students. A lot of students get 6 months of CPT where they not only get industry exposure but also get paid a reasonable salary during the duration of the CPT. That at least 25% of your study paid for if you land a good offer. You might hear of Optional Practical Training(OPT) from some sources, but be aware that this only applies once you finish your education.
If you are diligent in trying for all these options there is a good possibility of you spending the least amount of money for your education in the United States. The only things left would be food and living. I will write about great ways to save on food and living expenses in the US, in another blog article. Remember, if you are not successful in getting the above, then there is a 5th option always – student loans that give you unbelievable interest rates and a 1 to 2-year deferral on installment payments post completion on your course. Research well before making decisions that might impact your pocket in the future. Good luck with all your endeavors. If you have any success stories, do share with the iSchoolConnect community. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please leave your comments and questions about studying abroad. We are iSchoolConnect are always glad to help with study abroad related questions. Visit the Students Home Page for help with applying to schools and avail benefits like 2-week turnarounds, application waivers, etc.