Career cues Colleges

A primer on how to view college fees and financing options

The words College Fund circled in red surrounded by graphs, calculator, books and pencils.   | Photo Credit: David Franklin

Parents spend a lot on their child’s education. And as the dreaded class X exam appears on the horizon, money starts flowing like water — coaching classes joined-then-ditched, series of tutors, counsellors, tests, applications… but the real big whammy waiting at the end of all that is the college fee.

If you are exploring everything from Delhi University to universities in the U.S., you must have asked yourself the question — Why? Why should I spend over ₹2 crore on a Liberal Arts college in the U.S. rather than ₹2 lakh in Delhi University? And then, there is everything in between — private universities at ₹10 lakh or so per annum, colleges in Asia at ₹15 to 20 lakh, Canada and the U.K. closer to ₹30 lakh per annum.

Points to ponder

Factors to consider when considering value for your money:

Your budget: Undergraduate education should ideally be financed without loans or drastic financial measures like selling property. Barring professional courses such as Law, engineering or medicine, undergraduate courses only prepare students for a general entry-level jobs with low starting salaries, not enough to pay back significant loans.

Job prospects in the destination country and course: The U.S., Canada, the U.K., Germany and Australia have visa policies that allow students to work in these countries for one year or more, depending on the course.

Availability of financial aid: Most U.S. colleges have both need-based and merit-based aid options. However, apart from about a 100 need-blind colleges, most colleges are need-aware, which means that the ability to pay full tuition could affect your chances of getting admission. Singapore offers a Ministry of Education grant of 50% of tuition fees. Germany offers full funding for international students. Hong Kong offers need-based financial aid and grants to students depending on their board results.

Scholarships: The U.K. and Canada have few and competitive financing options that one can rarely depend on. These are usually one or two instituted scholarships that students can apply for in a competitive process, based primarily on merit.

Work options: Most students can earn enough to cover cost of living through on-campus jobs. Some co-op programmes offer one year of work in a field related to your studies. Some countries such as Canada and Germany allow you to work off-campus during holidays. In the U.S., you can use one year of Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) any time after the first year, to do a salaried job related to your studies off campus. These options help subsidise the cost of studying to some extent.

The writer is the author of The Ultimate Guide to 21st Century Careers. She leads Inomi Learning, a career and college guidance firm.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 10:03:16 AM |

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