Note to readers: As countries from across the world get a better grasp of how to keep COVID-19 in check and ease lockdowns, students here are keen to fly abroad for their higher education. Last week, we told you about everything you needed to know about foreign education loans, quarantine costs and bank evaluation processes. Today, we focus on ways in which students can reduce the burden of tuition fees in these pandemic times
Universities globally are slowly opening their doors once again to foreign students. As more students get vaccinated, it’s also easier for them to board the next flight out. However, many families’ savings have been ravaged due to the COVID-19 pandemic and there is less money to be spent on an expensive foreign education. But there are ways in which you can reduce your financial burden.
Apply for instalment option on fees
Earlier, foreign universities demanded tuition fees upfront for the full year. “Now, some foreign universities are allowing deferred payment options. So, you can pay the fees per semester or for the modules selected in the semester,” says Naveen Chopra, Founder & Chairman of TCGlobal.
Some universities allow you to pay the tuition fees in instalments. This is beyond the regular scholarship being offered to eligible students. This eases the burden of tuition fees if parents are fully financing the course.
Foreign universities extend such financial assistance to students’ families, if parents have lost jobs, face medical emergency, or suffer pay cuts, etc. Such families need to submit proof that their family is affected due to COVID-19.
“We advise those unable to afford the foreign education fees due to the impact of COVID-19 on the family, to defer the admission. Do not put an additional burden on your parents and make them sell the property, gold jewellery, etc.” says Chopra.
Also read: Why we need a higher education savings fund in India
Fast track your studies
Kanwar Singh, 24, of Jaipur, has enrolled for a two-year Masters in Analytics program from a university in New Jersey, United States of America (USA). The total estimated cost of a two-year program is Rs 90 lakh. This includes tuition fees of the university, living expenses, travel costs, etc.
Aside from his parents’ savings, he took an education loan of Rs 55 lakh at 9.8 per cent interest.
He has 39 credits to be completed within two years. But he plans to complete the program within three semesters by enrolling for additional credits every semester. So, he will opt for 13 credits every semester, instead of 9-10 credits. Fast tracking his course brings down his education fees to roughly Rs 55 lakh, down from Rs 70 lakh. “I can even join the workforce early after completing the program,” says Singh.
Also read: Education loans, quarantine costs and scholarships: All you need to know about studying abroad
Tap alumni network for financial aid
Pune-based Aniket Rastogi, 27, is headed for London in September. His estimated tuition fee is Rs 20 lakh and living expenses are Rs 13 lakh. He has secured a scholarship of Rs 3 lakh from the university. His parents had saved for the foreign education and had planned to finance the full expenses.
Unfortunately in April 2021, his family got affected due to COVID. Most of the savings for foreign education got exhausted in paying off hospital expenses. “Post the COVID treatment, I thought my dream of foreign education was shattered,” says Rastogi.
Rastogi approached his university for help. The university connected him to the alumni network for financial aid. The alumni evaluated the academic grades, past internships, work experiences, and saw his family’s COVID-19 history. He managed to raise around Rs 10 lakh from the alumni network.
“Some universities have made funds available to students whose families were affected due to COVID-19. Parents should inquire about special financial aid in such circumstances. These universities have kept the fund aside by raising from the alumni association to support the students,” says Dhaval Mehta, CEO & Founder of TNI Career Counselling. He adds that if you write to the university with your financial constraint, the authorities support students and parents in every possible way.
Care while selecting a university and applying for a loan
Select universities with care. “Measure the education quality,” says Rohan Ganeriwala, Co-Founder & Director of Collegify. He adds that you must avoid falling into fake university traps and spoil your children’s future.
Taking an education loan shouldn’t be based on interest rates alone. “While the rate of interest is the primary factor for taking loans, borrowers should also consider the margin amount, repayment tenure and the moratorium period while applying for an education loan from any bank, NBFC or Fintech,” says Harshadkumar Solanki, Head-Mortgages and Other Retail Assets, Bank of Baroda.
“Evaluate the loan offered by banks and NBFCs with collaterals against non-collateral loans offered by fintechs,” says Eela Dubey, Founder of EduFund. Also, before applying for an education loan, you must check whether the bank, NBFC or fintech calculates the interest amount on a reducing balance or flat rate basis. “Interest calculation on reducing balance can considerably decrease the effective interest rate,” says Arijit Sanyal, MD and CEO of HDFC Credila Financial Services.