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How to fund your education for studies abroad
Karan Gupta
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January 15, 2008

Anuja Dalal did not apply for admissions to foreign universities because she thought she would not be able to fund her education. Anuja like thousands of Indian students does not know that there are many sources of funding for education abroad. For generations foreign universities have encouraged Indian students to study at their campuses by offering financial aid, scholarships and loans.

The wary may wonder why universities pay for international students. International students add cultural diversity to the campus and often increase the intellectual level of discussions in classrooms. Having a culturally diverse student body has added benefits for universities too. Many philanthropic Americans and Britons bequeath millions of dollars in funding to universities because the universities claim to have students from all over the world. Hence, one of the reasons foreign universities offer funding is to attract more international students.

Financial aid
There are two types of universities in the US -- public and private. Public universities are state-funded and hence do not offer financial aid to international students. However, their cost of tuition is not very high and average state school tuition costs are around $15,000 per year.

Private universities, on the other hand, are privately funded and hence can offer need-based financial aid to international students. However, the cost of tuition at private schools is higher than that of state schools and average private school tuition costs are around $25,000 per year.

Keep in mind that financial aid is need-based, extremely limited and international students will need to file a Foreign Student Financial Aid Application (FSFAA) in order to qualify for funding.

Most of the Ivy League schools and liberal art schools in the US offer financial aid to international students. Most financial aid offered is for undergraduate students and very few graduate schools in the US offer financial aid to international graduate students. (Instead they offer graduate assistantships -- see below.)

Tip! International organisations that offer funding to international students

Scholarships and Graduate Assistantships

Scholarships are offered to both undergraduate and graduate international students. Private as well as state universities can offer scholarships to international students. Scholarships are direct tuition discounts and most scholarship awards require that students maintain a 'good' academic performance at the school (usually a 'B+' average).

Scholarships are awarded strictly on merit and financial need does not play any role in awarding of a scholarship. Schools award scholarships ranging from $500 per year to the entire tuition cost.

For instance, the University of Texas at Dallas, a third-tier university, awards scholarship awards to international undergraduate students that can cover the entire tuition, living expenses and airfare.

Graduate Assistantships, as the name applies, are offered to graduate students and are classified as teaching assistantships (TA) and research assistantships (RA). If you receive a TA you would be required to teach for 20 hours per week and carry out the responsibilities of an assistant teacher.

If you receive an RA, you would be required to research for a professor or an academic department. Graduate assistantships pay entire tuition and you also receive a monthly stipend and hence your cost of education is nil.

Naturally, such awards are extremely competitive and very few students are awarded graduate assistantships.

If you apply to universities where your scores are above the average scores of admitted students, your chances of getting a Graduate Assistantship are higher.

There are primarily two kinds of loans available to fund your education abroad. Indian banks offer the first type and the maximum amount you can borrow is Rs 20 lakhs. The interest rates (as of Jan 2008) are approximately 11.5 per cent and the repayment period is 5-7 years after taking the loan.

You will need to mortgage a security to the tune of about 150 per cent of the loan amount with the bank. Some banks also offer a loan of upto Rs 8 lakhs with the same interest rates and repayment period as the Rs 20-lakh loan.

The bank will check your family income and assets before granting this loan but will not need a collateral security. Please remember to check individual bank terms and conditions along with the repayment period before deciding on a student loan.

US institutions offer the second type of loan and you can borrow up to the entire cost of your education and living expenses (In come cases there is a limit of $45,000). The Teri loan is an example of a loan offered by US institutions to international students.

As of Jan 2008 the interest rates are between 8-9 per cent per annum and the repayment period is within 20 years of taking the loan. No security is needed but you will need a co-signer or a guarantor to avail of this loan.

The co-signer must be a US citizen or a permanent resident of the US, with a good credit history, having lived in the US for at least 2 years. Applying for this loan is very simple and can be done on or

Summary of loans available to fund your education


Maximum loan amount

Approx interest rates

Repayment period

Security needed

Loans from India

Rs 20 lakh per annum


5-7 years

150% of the loan amount

Loans from the US

Total cost of education and living expenses (limit of $45,000 in some cases)


Within 20 years of taking loan

Co-signer or guarantor must sign the loan application

 Tip! There are some Internet sites where you can find additional sources of funding


    Before you decide on your universities, carefully evaluate your options and then decide which universities to apply to. Applying to the 'right' schools will ensure that you get some form of funding for your education overseas. Remember, you can almost always find a school that is willing to help you get a foreign education at a lower cost.


    The author is an education consultant.

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