How to pay for your own college education

How to pay for your own college education | 8 time-tested strategies

Last Updated on November 3, 2021 by iSchoolConnect

A lot of students choose not to study abroad because they think it’s too expensive. But these 8 strategies will tell you how to pay for your own college education and skyrocket your career abroad.

When planning to go abroad, it’s normal to worry about how you will pay for your own college education. You have to consider how much tuition the university will charge, the amount you will have to pay for accommodation, travel, food, and other expenses.

While it’s easy to feel daunted about paying for college without parents’ help, most international students are able to do it successfully. They plan in advance, follow these 8 time-tested strategies, and are able to build a successful career abroad.


Depending on how early you are in the process of applying to study abroad, you can save a lot for your higher education.

I’m not speaking in terms of stashing your savings at home. I’m talking about keeping aside a chunk of your allowance or income every month and saving it in a bank account.

Plus, there are so many ways in which you can multiply your savings. One way to do this is to put your money into a Fixed Deposit account. Another is to add it to your Liquid Funds. And then, there’s investing.

Find out which means you’re more comfortable with, figure out your expenses, see how much you can save per month, and start.

No matter how late you are in the process of applying, stick to this strategy. Even a small amount of money can mean a lot.

Such institutes also offer a monthly stipend to students, helping them take care of their accommodation, food, and other miscellaneous expenses.

So whichever field you’re interested in, look for courses that are fully or partially funded. And if you like their curriculum, shortlist that university! But make sure you’re likely to be considered as a merit student when you apply.

Look for paid programs

Some colleges waive off the entire tuition fee for students on the basis of their merit. Similarly, a few colleges waive it off partially. This takes off a huge load from students’ minds, letting them focus on their studies rather than worrying about debt.

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Have any other suggestions? Drop a comment!

Get tuition reimbursement

This tactic is only possible if you’re working at a corporate before applying to study abroad.

Here’s what you need to do – speak to your manager or HR and find out if the company policy will allow them to fund your education abroad. If yes, go for it!

But before you do that, make sure you look at the terms and conditions of the policy. You will find clauses that might ask you to work for the company after graduation or state that only your tuition will be taken care of. Check if you’re okay with these rules, and let the company fund you accordingly!

Apply for multiple scholarships & grants

Apply for scholarships & grants
Make sure you apply to local scholarships that you’re eligible for, before you apply to global ones.

A lot of students think they aren’t smart enough to get a scholarship. Well, newsflash: you don’t have to be a top-ranking student to get money for your education.

So right after you’re done with university applications, start looking for scholarships you can apply for, both inside and outside your institution. The scholarships & grants don’t necessarily have to be merit-based. You will find lots of other options, like need-based grants, sports scholarships, country-based scholarships, and more.

While some of them, like Fullbright and Tata, will fund your entire education abroad, others will be able to provide you with a partial amount of funds-

  1. Erasmus Scholarship
  2. Chevening Scholarship
  3. Fullbright Scholarship
  4. UNESCO Scholarship
  5. Generation Google Scholarship
  6. DAAD Scholarship, and more

So, find out which scholarships & grants you are eligible for, shortlist the ones that will best suit your profile, and start applying!

Get an education loan

This may seem like a no-go area but it’s near impossible for students to fund their own education without taking a loan. The amount of loan you take, however, will depend on factors like your savings, scholarship awards, and program tuition.

There are a few tricks you can follow here as well, like taking a loan from a bank that’s in the country you’re planning to study in. Another thing you can do is choose to go for federal loans instead of private ones.

But be careful with the amount of debt you take and the interest rate on it. Make sure the ROI on your job prospects after graduation is going to be enough to pay back. And don’t withdraw the entire amount in one go. Get your loans approved term by term.

This might seem like a huge task, but if done right, a student loan can take you a long way in funding your higher education abroad.

Look for cheap accommodation options

If you have a relative living in the country you’re planning to study in, and if there are good universities around their place, ask them if they’d be willing to accommodate you. Staying with them would cut down your living and food expenses by a huge amount, so I recommend you don’t shy away from asking.

If that’s not a possibility, look for cheap accommodation options in or around your college. Sometimes, you’ll find that living off-campus is cheaper than living on-campus, like at Northeastern and Boston University.

You can also look for friends or classmates who’d be open to sharing an apartment. Again, take that option only if it’s cheaper than the others. At the same time, don’t entirely give up your comfort to save only a few bucks.
See what fits you the best and go for it.

Get a part-time job

A part-time job comes with many benefits. It will allow you to gain experience in the field of your interest, help you cover your expenses, and push you into adulting.

And while countries usually allow international students to work only 20 hours a week, there are certain exceptions. For example, if you take up a job in bookkeeping or freelancing, you might be able to work for longer hours. And the weekly income will be enough to pay for your living and personal expenses in college.

What’s more, the part-time job you take up doesn’t have to be in an office. You could work remotely while online tutoring, be on the outside while dog walking, or work at a restaurant as a bartender. Whatever you do, make sure you are being paid in the range of $10 to $25 an hour, depending on which part-time job you take up.

Secure a Graduate or Teaching Assistantship position

While you’re not working through a summer internship or a part-time job, you can apply for a Graduate Assistantship, a Teaching Assistantship, or a Research Assistantship with one of your professors.

This, combined with your part-time job or summer internship, will be enough to cover the costs for your tuition, accommodation, and personal expenses.

This way, you will not only be able to pay for your own college, while also learning something new and building connections with your teachers and batchmates. Ultimately, it will help you easily land a job after graduation.

Do I have to do ALL of this?

It’s all up to you. You might not have the option to follow all of these strategies but you can definitely choose a few that will work well for you.
For example, if you have already applied for a loan and don’t have any savings, you can get a part-time job, do your taxes to get a refund, and also look for cheap accommodation options.

I know it’s a tedious job to handle your own finances as a student, especially when you’re living in a foreign land all by yourself. But I hope this article helped you figure out how to pay for your own college education.

And if you ever get stuck or need any help, feel free to reach out. We’d be very happy to help.

In the meanwhile, all the best for your future abroad.


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