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Worried about financing your studies abroad? We have great advice!

Higher education can be expensive, but money should never stop you from applying to the university of your dreams.
BY Anandamayee Singh |   10-05-2019

BrainGain Magazine

In the age of the internet and globalisation, the world offers numerous opportunities to fulfill  your academic dreams. Those dreams, however, can be very expensive. But by planning smart, working steadily and being aware of your options for financial aid, you can make the most out of studying abroad at the university of your choice. Here are 4 important things to keep in mind about your finances as you plan your academic future

  • Money should not be the first factor
    It may seem counterintuitive in an article about finances, but money really shouldn’t be the first consideration when trying to pay for college. Before applying to a university, it is important for you to take time out and understand where your interests lie, and which programs will help you fulfill your goals. No matter the kind of scholarships you get, it will be a waste of time if you come out of the program hating what you studied, or spend three years of your life studying finance when your real interest is in genetics.

    You are also more likely to get into programs centered around your passions, as your profile will likely be built around areas that interest you. “I think the reason I got a scholarship was because I was a good fit for the course that I chose.The scholarship is the means to get to the course which is suited to you. So don't look at the finances first, look at the course,” says Dr. Shailaja Kennel, Director of Land Studies and Senior Lecturer of Development Economics at Cambridge University. 

     
  • Use your resources and support system
    While finances should not dictate the direction you want to take in your life, it is imperative to do you research when it comes to paying for college. The internet is a great tool to look for scholarships for programs that excite you. BrainGain magazine  itself  has the largest scholarship database online, which is regularly updated with scholarships from around the world.

    Guidance counsellors at your schools, teachers, seniors, and your family are excellent resources as well. Complement the information you find online with the advice of grown ups around you. Ask them questions about how they made important decisions in life, whether they experimented with different topics and skills, what they prioritized and sacrificed to fulfill their goals. It’s better to have your doubts cleared by people who have experience in higher education, than to feed your doubts with incomplete information. Guidance counsellors, seniors, alumni, and your parents will also help keep you calm if anything goes awry in your plan.

     
  • Do not be humble
    Humility is important to stay grounded. So important, in fact, that Kendrick Lamar wrote an entire song about it. However, when it comes to writing college applications, it is important to put aside your humility and be honest.

    “There's no room for shy in this game.You have to be creative, you have to be witty. There's a time to express yourself and talk about your strengths and talk about what you bring to the table. Colleges are looking for ambition, they're looking for grit. They're looking for students not taking no as an answer, ” says Andrew White, Vice President of business development at BrainGain Global, and former Admissions Director of Graduate Admissions at St. Johns University. 

    Reaching out to the professors you want to work with, alumni or current students of the programs that interest you is also a good idea. It puts a face to your application, and proves that you’re willing to go the extra mile, which universities appreciate.

     
  • Plan well in advance
    Scholarships and financial aid sources will not be impressed by good grades alone. It helps if you have a plan, so that universities know how serious you are about your education.When you plan in advance, you’re able to think of multiple options, and prepare yourself for possible roadblocks. “Make a strategic decision. Think of it like an investment portfolio where you're banking your knowledge.” said Dr. Fennel.

    Having a solid plan also helps you think of the long terms. For example, if you’re considering taking a loan, it is important to plan the steps you will take after graduation to pay it back. If you have a partial scholarship, you should research and plan alternative options, such as working on campus, finding cheaper accommodation than the one provided by your university, or studying in community college before transferring to a four year program. It helps to break down your tuition fees into segments, and treat each segment like a fundraising goal. Look into jobs, work-study options, loans, graduation schemes, scholarships and transferable credits to graduate early. The more you plan, the more certain your future will be.

    Bonus tip: Make sure you know how you will be paying for your degree before you begin. Not only is it critical to getting a visa, it is will save you a huge amount of stress later.
 
Here’s more on financing your studies:
6 expert suggestions on managing your finances abroad
How to find and win scholarships
How to earn money while you are studying in the U.K.
How to win a GREAT scholarship
‘Before worrying about fees and scholarships, find out what you’re buying’
3 minute mentor: How to convince your bank to give you a study loan
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