Financial Aid for Students Studying Abroad
Financial Aid is the money to help you pay for your education. Financial aid comes in several forms: scholarships or grants, loans, and work assistance. The major providers of financial aid for graduate business students are the federal government, state governments, universities, private loan providers, employers, and private foundations. In other words Financial Aid is the funding provided either by a private agency or the university to cover either a part or the whole of tuition fee or living expenses incurred by a student. Financial aid decisions are generally made once a year. The deadlines for financial aid and applications are usually in January, February and March. Early applications are looked upon favorably.
Remember that missing deadlines and incomplete applications are the main reasons for rejection. Therefore, one requires being on time and ensuring that the application is complete. It sometimes takes several months for Universities to make a decision on the admissibility of applicants. Some institutions review all applications together and notify students on a given date. Others review applications individually as soon as they are complete, and notify the students right away.
Myths on Financial Aid
The amount of aid you can receive for studying abroad is going to depend largely on
- The amount of aid that you would regularly qualify for at your college or university.
- The cost of your study abroad program.
- How involved your college is in promoting study abroad opportunities to its students,
- Your enrollment status, i.e. if you are taking at least a half-time course load.
- If studying abroad is going to further advance the progress towards your degree.
- If I apply for Aid, it will affect whether or not I am admitted to the program.
- Loans are not financial aid.
- Financial Aid is just for minority students.
While it is easy for most domestic students to obtain some form of Federal (Government) Aid or university aid for their Bachelor’s level education, it is most often very difficult for international students to obtain aid in any form at Bachelor’s level. Hence, it is imperative that students who are financially sound or have brilliant academic background (including top-level scores in TOEFL/IELTS and/or SAT I and II) to consider further education at the bachelor’s level.
However, at the Master’s level, aid in several forms is available for international students. Almost 78% of students at the Master’s level in US universities get funding in some form or the other.
Financial aid and scholarships are limited, for Master’s level education in Australia, UK and Ireland. Some Canadian universities offer aid, based on merit and after reviewing the performance of students during the first semester.
There is one Australian Government scholarship available for Indian students – the International Post-graduate Research Scholarships (IPRS): government scheme, 300 scholarships, on merits basis, students must apply through the university. Australian universities and colleges may offer their own scholarships it could be in any level (under graduate, postgraduate, doctoral etc), a student needs to contact the institutions directly.
UK institutions offer thousands of scholarships and bursaries just for international students, while more than twenty-one thousand international students receive scholarship funding from the UK Government every year.
Most Doctoral level applicants get a complete tuition waiver along with a stipend or scholarship while pursuing their PhD programs in universities abroad. It is also possible for some universities to provide just the admission and no funding at all, based on their financial constraints and funding availability.
Applicants looking for aid are required to apply well before financial aid deadlines, with proper application material, College Application Essays, Recommendations, transcripts and other specified requirements, as prescribed by universities individually.
Many students are concerned with the high costs of studying abroad. The cost of education could be anywhere between USD 10,000- USD 50,000 per year, depending on the program, level and country you choose. In addition to the tuition fee, students also need to plan for funds towards living expenses, books, health insurance, air tickets, transportation, etc.
Finances are a major source of worry for students who wish to study abroad and their parents. However, there are several funding options available to students these days. Some of the options are listed below:
Information on financial aid can also be sought from the following websites:
Financial Aid Resources
- Financial aid for international students http://finaid.org
- International Education Loan Inc. http://ieli.org
- Yahoo Financial Aid Information http://dir.yahoo.com/education/financial_aid/
- Resources for Scholarships/ Grants and Fellowships http://fastweb.com
Recently the United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI) has announced the competition for Fulbright Fellowships for Indian academics, schoolteachers and professionals for graduate study, research, teaching and professional development in the US for the year 2006-2007.
From this year USEFI has also introduced the Fulbright Master’s Fellowships for Leadership Development designed for outstanding Indians who are in the age group of 25-30 years, to pursue a Master’s degree program in select US colleges and universities in the areas of Public Administration, Economics, Communication studies and Environment.
For more details visit http://fulbrightindia.org
It is important for students to understand that financial assistance for international students is often based on merit and rarely on need.
Scholarships/Grants/fellowships are generally based on the student’s academic ability and his performance through the years. Hence, only an academically outstanding student may be considered for this type of an award. These are awards where there is no repayment involved or work to be done in return. These can be private or public and research grants. This type of aid is usually in the form of money for any purpose.
A Scholarship can be of two kinds:
- Full – The Scholarship would pay for the student’s entire tuition fee; living expenses his books, etc.
- Partial – Scholarship would pay only for tuition fee. The student will have to provide for partial funding through other sources
A tuition waiver is a form of aid where the student need not pay the tuition fee. Again, the tuition fee may be fully waived or partially waived, depending from university to university.
If the tuition fee is waived, the student has to still pay for use of other facilities like, library, computer Lab, Lab services, etc.
Tuition waivers are generally awarded along with Scholarships/Grants/fellowships. Tuition waiver is provided by the college/university in the form of Institutional Aid.
Assistantship is a financial aid given by the college/university. It is usually in the form of a cash stipend, sufficient for the student’s living expenses and/or tuition waiver, in return for which the student will have to work (generally not more than 20 hours per week).
There are two types of Assistantships:
- Research Assistantship – it is usually granted by the respective departments in the university. The student will be assigned to a professor who will give him/her tasks related to a research project he/she is working on field
- Teaching Assistantship – a student is asked to assist a professor in teaching. For this type of assistantship, the student should have good command over spoken English. Hence, his/her score in the Spoken section of the TOEFL is a very important criterion
It can be understood that these aids are provided to students who have the requisite abilities in the respective areas of expertise.
This type of aid is provided to Master’s and Doctoral level students who are expected to teach undergraduate students or assist their professors in research.
Which are similar to Assistantships, where students are expected to work part-time under the university’s Administrative officers.
These can enable a student either to earn money or gain academic credits for the work done.