Studying abroad can take a financial toll on parents and students; however, it does not become a deterrent for them. In a survey conducted by The WorldGrad- a study abroad EdTech platform, it was found that around 65% of students aspiring to study abroad had less than 10L annual family income. The survey was conducted on a data set of 1000+ aspirants to determine their financial readiness for an undergraduate degree in countries like Australia, UK and US. The findings also suggest that the majority of these aspiring candidates are not financially prepared in terms of a viable collateral other than their parent’s properties and have savings less than 30L as a family (75%). Furthermore, the unprecedented COVID-19 has gravely impacted the finances of several families pushing their survival back on their savings. Despite the results that indicate lack of financial alacrity, aspirants still wish to study abroad.
Talking about the Survey and the current landscape, Abhinav Mital- Founder of The WorldGrad made an observation, “The study abroad landscape has changed drastically in India post pandemic. A myriad of platforms now exists for students to help them navigate bottlenecks in their overseas journey. Being in the industry we know and recommend each use case fit for an aspirant to help them access global education. Right from selecting programs, countries, financial assistance, IELTs/English preparation support and budgeting- all is made possible through overseas EdTech platforms. A lot of the work has to go in creating awareness around the EdTech platforms and ways that exist for students as options.”
Few of the viable options students can consider:
- Loans – Education loans ensure a continuous flow of funds, thus enabling students to fulfill the various financial requirements placed by the respective universities/countries in which they plan to study. Educational loans are truly lifesavers for students. Yet, a wrong move can land a family in financial doldrums and spell doom for a chosen career. An education loan can be a gateway to your dream career. However, students should be aware that collaterals like property are often required. A loan structure depends upon your purchasing power and future plans; hence, a student loan is a highly personalized decision. Since it will have long-term implications, it is important to consider certain risk factors to make an informed decision. Apart from this, it is advised that they check the visa requirements as some countries prefer national banks or private banks over NBFCs. It’s best to undergo a loan assessment or counselling, which can eventually help families with a broader assessment of their finances.
- Scholarships-100% Scholarships, a myth – Students often think they will get high scholarships for UG studies, this is not completely true. If you are lucky, you can get scholarships upto 25-30%. There are limited scholarship programs reserved for only the best and outstanding undergraduate students because of the cut-throat competition. You will need to research and shortlist options for financial aid which you are eligible for. Universities offer scholarships for many reasons: to diversify their student body; to attract students with high academic potential who might not be able to afford to study at university level or overseas; and also, simply for the good press and publicity it brings. Having said that, countries like Australia regularly offer scholarships up to 30% for students coming from India which is aimed at increasing enrolments. Some universities also give scholarships on the basis of the Year 1 results so researching these options and being realistic about scholarships is essential.
- Hybrid programs – Also known as “in-country programs” are a relatively new category of programs where you can start studying in India and complete your degree overseas. One of the main advantages of such programs is that students can save money both on fees and living expenses on part of their education which can amount to 15-20L. However, it is judicious to look for programs that:
- Follow international curriculum, not the Indian curriculum so that you are studying the same content as at the overseas universities.
- Make sure the courses in India are fully recognized for credit at the overseas universities, only pre-agreed partnership arrangements allow for this.
The above two criteria differentiate in-country programs which are purely cost-saving measures vs those that carry more academic value and international experience.
There are a couple of good examples such as the Unismarter program and the UOWCA Global online accelerator program, both of which are offered through The WorldGrad platform. These two programs take students to more than 100+ degrees in countries like the UK, Australia, Dubai and soon to be launched USA. Both programs offer international curriculum with overseas educators and are fully recognised across 10 global universities. Students are spending more time researching options and identifying smart, cost-effective ways to pursue their dreams. Most students who enquire with us invest a lot of time in evaluating the financial impact of an overseas education on their families and therefore when we talk about loans, scholarships and hybrid program options, they find it extremely informative and helpful. Having said that, it remains a big challenge for many families to commit to such large sums of money or take on loans and therefore affordability is the biggest reason for students not being able to enrol in overseas programs.
About the Author
Abhinav Mital is CoFounder of The WorldGrad, a tech-driven study abroad platform. Abhinav is an alumnus of Indian School of Business (ISB) and IIT-Delhi. Before starting LINC Education and The WorldGrad, Abhinav was a founding member and a Partner of Parthenon-EY’s international education practice. He currently serves on the operations advisory board of The Education Fund, Australia.