Six ways you can fund your master’s degree
There’s a lot you have to do once you receive that letter of acceptance and decide to enroll in a postgraduate program. One of the biggest concerns for many graduate applicants is how to secure or supplement financing for higher studies abroad. Here are six ways to fund your master’s degree. Understand these options and decide on that works for you.
• University-specific scholarships and aid
If you have demonstrated that you are a competitive student through your application, some universities may award you with a merit-based scholarship. Alternately, some universities like Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design offers need-based scholarships for international applicants, though these awards are limited and highly competitive. Financial aid also depends on the type of institution and is university-specific. For example, in the US, publicly funded universities do not offer need-based financial aid to international students while private universities might.
• Trusts, foundations and other organizations
Indian institutions like Inkas Scholarships, K. C. Mahindra Education Trust and J. N. Tata Endowment, offer students funding for graduate studies by way of scholarships and loans. You could also look into other options like local Rotary clubs, which help students study abroad. You would need to provide proof of admission to a recognised/accredited international university. These opportunities, are extremely competitive, require an application and have individual requirements. For example, the Inlaks Scholarships are only granted to students who are accepted at a US, European or UK institution and have stipulations on the field of study as well. In contrast to this, the Commonwealth Scholarship only allows you to study in the UK. There are also a number of country-specific independent organizations. The German Academic Exchange Service supports international students seeking to study abroad at German universities.
• Educational bank loans
One of the most popular ways for students to fund their education is by securing an educational loan from a bank. Both private banks like Axis, Yes Bank, or HDFC and government banks like PNB, OBC or Bank of Baroda offer educational loans for students. When researching loans, make sure you understand their terms and conditions. There are some US banks that offer loans at a low-interest rate, provided that a family member who is an American citizen co-signs the form.
• Private lenders
Another way to help pay for your education is to approach private study abroad education lenders. GyanDhan, a new and emerging company works as an aggregator and offers various bank options under one roof. Lenders like Prodigy Finance and Credila leverage technology and provide loans that are customized to you and your potential, while Paras Education Services offers soft term loans at low interest rates. Mpower Financing, a US based company who does secondary funding, can also help you start a credit line in the US economy.
• Graduate Assistantships
Once you are at university, you can explore employment opportunities within your department or on campus through international student services. What you earn can help you toward your tuition or other living expenses. Many universities across Australia, the US and Canada offer graduate students an opportunity to work as a teaching assistant, research assistant or resident advisor. These awards cover your tuition fees in part or full or offer you a discount on housing fees. At some private universities in the US and Canada, you could also approach them for merit-based financial aid based on your excellent performance in the previous semester. These assistantships are extremely competitive and few students get these opportunities.
• Part-time work
Many students work part-time to help with their expenses. Every country has its own rules and regulations about the number of hours you can work per week; this will be mentioned on your international student visa. In the UK, you will be limited to 20 hours per week, however, in the US, you can work up to 20 hours per week during the semester and 40 hours per week when on break. Australia allows you to unlimited hours when your course is on a break. In countries such as the US, you will only be allowed to work on campus, however in Australia, you can undertake part-time work off campus as well, whereas in Germany, you can work for 120 days per year off campus, while on-campus jobs like tutoring or student jobs are not included in these 120 days. Working on or off campus is not only useful financially but is a great way to apply your knowledge, get ‘real-world experience’ and enhance your skills. This will also add tremendous value to your resume – an important consideration in the future. Keep in mind that However, ensure that your work does not affect your academic performance.
When looking at funding options, make sure you:
1) Check deadlines for scholarship applications as each one will differ
2) Read the eligibility criteria carefully and make sure you fit them. If you are unsure, mail the scholarship provider to clarify any doubts
3) Double check if you are applying for a scholarship or loan scholarship
4) Keep all your options open incase you do not get university aid or a scholarship
5) Go through all the terms and conditions carefully.
6) Ask questions related to the maximum amount given, cosigner and collateral policies, interest rates and EMI payments for loans.
When it comes to paying college fees, there is some flexibility; you do not have to pay your entire fees upfront, so plan ahead.