It's an inescapable reality that sending your child abroad to study can be prohibitively expensive. For most middle-class Indian families, the hefty amount is just not something they can afford to spend, even though some parents get caught up in the enthusiasm of providing their child with the advantage of a high-quality education and end up depleting their savings or going bankrupt.
In this conundrum, there are several things that parents can do to balance their desires. Here are four suggestions:
* Do your research and choose wisely
The adage "if your friends would jump off a bridge, would you do the same" might have become passe, but it is so for a good reason. Students today often have their opinions on their education and professional life shaped by their peers, derived either from their friends or through social media. Unfortunately, this herd mentality often prevents them from realising that their dream education might lie away from the conventional choices. Today, education has become a global industry, and several incredible institutions in countries like Australia and Canada can match the quality and opportunities of a US education at a fraction of the cost of tuition that the latter necessitates.
The massive rush for countries like the US and UK also make employment opportunities more difficult to obtain. The prevailing political atmosphere makes it hard for US employers to take on too many foreign employees, thus diluting the draw of studying in these countries. Further, several other countries are aggressively trying to attract Indian talent to their shores, meaning greater scholarship and visa opportunities.
* Alternate sources for funding
While funding and scholarships aren't easy to come by, there's no reason to discard that option without exploring it. Institutions tend to offer a limited number of scholarships for international students, either on the basis of merit, need, or a combination of both. Other than the institution itself, philanthropic organisations both in India and abroad, educational trusts, alumni networks, and even governments offer financial support in the form of grants, fee-waivers, or scholarships. These can be immensely useful in reducing your financial burden, and additionally gives your child something impressive to put on their resume.
Another option is taking an education loan. Banks and financial institutions often provide these at attractive rates on good terms and a bevy of tech startups are offering very attractive P2P or technology-driven easy loan options. This can help your child avail this great opportunity without driving you and your family to penury, even providing them with an introduction to taking responsibility and driving their own future.
* Part-time work
Another option that would both ease your financial situation while giving your child some of the responsibility for the cost of this opportunity would be them earning to cover some part of the expenses. There are several part-time opportunities that can help students earn enough money to cover basic expenses and contribute towards larger educational expenses. This would require a careful study of the immigration policies since there are restrictions on the time and income international students can receive while on a student visa.
In today's digital age, students can even work freelance online, especially in the field of their study. This will keep them on their toes while getting them good experience to enhance their employment prospects.
* Line of credit
Apart from tuition fees, there are many other costs such as travel, supplies and living expenses that students have to bear. A line of credit can help cover some of these costs. A line of credit is more flexible than student loans and comes handy in financial emergencies. You can get up to Rs five lakh and use any amount from this limit. You're charged interest only on the amount used. Convenient repayment options of 2-36 months are available.
(Gurinder Bhatti is Chairman and MD, ESS Global-Study Abroad Consultant; Anuj Kacker is Co-Founder & COO, MoneyTap. The views expressed are personal. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com)