Studying abroad is a dream for many. However, a commonly encountered obstacle in converting this dream into reality is lack of funding. Evidently, studying abroad is an expensive proposition. For more reasons than one, the cost of overseas education is many times higher than education in India. Often the costs for international education go way beyond an average middle-class income. Finance is a deciding factor for visa as well. Hence, it is extremely important that one looks at this area closely and timely and not leave this for later.
The first rule is to plan in advance. “Financial planning should start as early as the application procedure. A considerable amount of research goes into identifying viable sources of financial aid. Students looking for funding can shortlist universities on the basis of the cost of attendance, availability of university funding and competitiveness,” points out Renuka Raja Rao, country coordinator, EducationUSA Advising Services, United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF).
The internet is a mine of information that throws up several options for one to choose. At the same time, scan newspapers for announcements and information about grants and scholarships. The earlier one starts planning, the more options will one be aware of.
For those planning their UG education abroad, it is best to start finding out about sponsorship as early as in class X. By the time one reaches class XII, one should be sure about where the money is coming from.
For those planning to go abroad for their Masters, it is important to start planning from the end of second year itself.
“A lot of my friends who applied earlier in the year were among those who received financial assistance from their respective universities compared to those who applied later,” says Akanksha, a graduate student who applied for financial assistance to the London School of Economics last year.
Most universities offer various internal scholarships and awards. It is advisable to apply for these internal grants at the earliest. One need not wait for their offer letters to apply for these internal grants as several universities give out such grants on a rolling basis and in such cases, the early bird has maximum advantages.
Other than these awards, one must be on the lookout for scholarships offered by institutions and organisations in the country itself. Several philanthropic trusts assist students in such endeavours. There are some loan scholarships as well.
Educational loans are another source of funding. One must ascertain their assets and their value in order to determine their ability to receive a loan from banks. Survey different banks and examine their terms and conditions, interest rates, etc.
“While filling out the documents for financial assistance, a student has to carefully and realistically assess his/her own financial position and figure out the exact need. It is important to fill in precise details and provide all of the supporting documents,” says Rao.
It may be a good idea to take assistance from parents or anyone else who has experience in dealing with financial documents. It is also important to keep important financial documents like salary slips, income tax returns and declarations handy at all times. Finally review the application multiple times before submitting it and do not forget to attach relevant documents, if asked for. Getting funding can be a daunting task. However, planning ahead of time and conducting the right research can make this a hassle free, smooth process.
• Inlaks Foundation : http://www.inlaksfoundation.org
• Narotam Sekhsaria Scholarship Programme: http://pg.nsfoundation.co.in
• JN Tata Endowment for the Higher Education of Indians: http://www.dorabjitatatrust.org
• TOEFL scholarships: www.ets.org/toefl/scholarships/india
• Aga Khan Foundation: www.akdn.org/AKF (Indicative listing)
Courtesy: Education Times