If you decide to study abroad, chances are that you are going to spend much more money on tuition and other expenses compared to if you study in your home country. For instance, the cost of pursuing an undergraduate degree at a private university in the United States can be as high as $80,000 USD.
In light of these high costs of studying abroad, it is important to find viable ways of funding your education. In this article, we will explore three forms of financial assistance that you can explore to fund your international studies. These include:
- Student jobs and internships
Keep in mind that you can use one, two, or all three of the ways above to finance your studies. If you have gotten your letter of acceptance but you are stuck on how to respond to your institution because you are not sure how you are going to fund your studies, keep reading.
A scholarship is a form of funding that you do not have to pay back. Scholarships are generally offered by the university you are applying to or an external body such as a foundation or a foreign government. Scholarships are divided into various categories that include the following:
- Need-based scholarships – These target students who come from low-income families and hence are unable to afford the cost of their studies.
- Merit-based scholarships – These are awarded to students who demonstrate an exceptional level of success in their academic studies.
- Athletic-based scholarships – These are financial awards that are given to students who demonstrate exceptional abilities in athletic games such as basketball, baseball, and football.
- Identity-based scholarships – These target students who are members of a specific identity group, for instance first-generation students, black female students, queer students, etc.
It is important to keep in mind that scholarships can either be awarded by the institution you are applying to or an external body such as a foreign governmentor a foundation. Examples of scholarships that are awarded by universities include the Koenig Scholarship at Amherst College and the Lester B. Pearson International Award at the University of Toronto. Scholarships offered by external bodies include the Chevening Scholarship, the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship, and the DAAD Fellowships.
To learn more about how to prepare a great application to scholarships and grants, check out our complete guide [link to scholarship guide] about scholarships for African students. In addition, you can also explore our live database with numerous scholarship opportunities for African students.
Student Jobs and Internships
Depending on where you pursue your higher education, you may have the option to work as a student and make money on the side that can go towards funding your studies. In the United States, international students are allowed to work for 20 hours per week if they are on the F-1 student visa. The hourly rate depends on the state you are studying in. At the time of writing, the minimum wage in a state such as Massachusetts is 12 dollars per hour. If you manage to work for the full 20 hours every week, you can make sufficient cash to pay for small expenses such as books, food, and course materials. However, it is important to balance work with studies – if you fail to keep up with your studies, you could lose your status as a student and this would jeopardize your stay in the country.
Internships, on the other hand, are special opportunities where you could potentially make significant amounts of money that can go towards funding studies. As an international student in the United States on an F-1 visa, you are allowed to pursue an internship that is related to your field of study using the Optional Practical Training program (OPT). Some internships, for example those in finance and investment banking, can pay substantial stipends that can help you defray your educational costs.
Unlike scholarship funding that you are not required or expected to pay back, loans consist of money that you have to pay back once you are done with your studies. In a vast majority of cases, you will be expected to pay back this money with a certain amount of interest. It is important to note that loans extended to students tend to have lower interest rates than the regular loans extended to commercial entities.
A loan can be given by a government, a bank, or another private organization. In the USA, the federal government gives loans to college students who need them – but unless you are a domestic student, you will not be considered for these federal loans. As an international student, your best bet is organizations that specifically serve foreign students seeking funding for their studies abroad. At 8B Education, we are dedicated to helping qualified African students access funding for their studies. One tool we’ve developed allows you to compare pre-approval options from a marketplace of lenders.
To qualify for education loans from private organizations, you will need to meet specific criteria. Some organizations only offer loans to students who are pursuing particular fields, other organizations do not give loans to students from certain countries. In any case, you need to conduct thorough research before applying for loans– and the best way to do that is by getting in touch with organizations such as 8B Education that offer loans to international students. If you are an African student seeking funding for your studies abroad, check out our article on which African countries are ineligible for loan funding.
Studying abroad can be costly. Besides funds for boarding and tuition, you need to think about food, visa, flight, and miscellaneous expenses. To make your dream of studying abroad come true, you need to plan carefully about the manner in which you will finance your higher education. Scholarships, loans, and student jobs are some types of financial solutions that are available for international students who wish to study abroad. In general, scholarships are few and very competitive to win – so ensure you consider other options such as loans. Click here to learn more about the lending options offered by 8B.