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5 Ways to Finance Your Studies Abroad

Published by shamamore on 01/02/2017

Alone in Europe, there are in total 15.6 billion Euros worth of scholarships available every year! But which scholarship is the right one for you? You will discover that scholarships can be very individual and the best scholarship for you might be completely different to your best friends! That’s why you should check all the possible options for you, in terms of scholarships for example.

Even if you benefit from low tuition fees or don’t have to pay for tuition at all when you study abroad, you need all the financial support you can get. Scholarships are the most common and well-known financial aids that students can apply to. Along with the various types of scholarships, today international students can also apply to several other types of financial support.
1. Merit-based scholarships (fellowships)
The merit-based scholarships are awarded based on a number of criteria including academics, achievements, hobbies, talents, affiliations with various groups or career aspirations. These scholarships can be offered by the federal and state government, large corporations, local businesses, professional organizations or universities. Each scholarship has its own eligibility criteria which must be met and, while for some you have to apply yourself, for others you may automatically be considered for.

Scholarships offered by universities
The criteria by which universities offer scholarships are usually: academic excellence, students have to be under a certain age limit (for example under 35 years of age). In addition, you will find out there are special scholarship offers for each level of degree. In Switzerland, for example, you may find more scholarships available for a PhD and less for a Bachelor or Master degree.

In some of the international universities, costs of the accommodation and health insurance can be covered by the scholarship.

In Sweden, the scholarship covers tuition fee, living expenses, some travel grants and insurance.

In France, some of the scholarship-holders receive a monthly allowance and the scholarship also covers other expenses such as return trip, health insurance and cultural activities, but it does not cover tuition fees.
Scholarships offered by the government
Normally, the scholarship holders are exempt from the payment of the university tuition fees. Most of these scholarships last for three, six, or nine months.

Some of the mandatory criteria by which you can receive this scholarship are: educational qualification required by the chosen institution, knowledge of a certain language (the language of instruction used in the programme that you applied for) and often times, the students have to come under an age limit.

In the UK, some of the government scholarships cover tuition fees, a monthly living allowance, an economy class return airfare to and from the UK and additional grants and allowances to cover essential expenditure. However, in order to be eligible to receive it, you have to apply to three different UK university courses and have received an unconditional offer from one of these choices.
Sports scholarships
If you simply want to practice a sport and be a member of the college or university team, you can qualify for a scholarship, most times offered by your college/university. The good news is you don’t necessarily have to be very good at the sport you practice.

Sometimes local groups or different organisations may offer these sports scholarships and they usually look at criteria such as community service.

2. Specific scholarships
Most of the specific scholarships are given to students with a certain ethnic backgrounds or family affiliations. These type of scholarships are designed to benefit gender or ethnic minorities. For this reason, you will find a number of scholarships specifically dedicated to African-Americans, Asian-Americans or Hispanics. In some countries (Belgium, France, U.S. etc.), the local government provides scholarships to students that come from certain countries. For example, Belgium offers special scholarships to applicants coming from African countries.

These programmes are also meant to help minority students to pursue an education in fields in which they have been historically under-represented.

Some organisations provide scholarships to students with physical disabilities, learning disabilities and debilitating health conditions.

3. Need-based scholarships (grants)
Grants are often called “gift aid” because they are money – free; basically, they are a type of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid. Compared to scholarships which are usually merit-based, grants (which in some countries are called bursaries) are mostly need-based. Grants or bursaries are usually based on financial circumstances but may also consider other factors.

This form of financial support doesn’t need to be paid back and its value most times varies from 500 to 2,500 USD.

In the U.S., the Department of Education offers numerous federal grants to students who attend four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and career schools.

In Germany, different types of merit-based grants are awarded. The amount awarded is often determined through an evaluation of student need (usually ranging from 150 to 820 EUR/month for 12 months). Additional support is determined by assessment of the family financial situation.

Need-based grants are available for students with a low personal/family income, and for students with disabilities.

In the EU, most grants are awarded on the basis of financial need to students that are less than 28 years of age.
4.Student loans
Student loans are funds that you have to pay back; they basically function like any other loan, with a few differences. You can get a student loan from the government or a private bank; it can be a bank from your home country or a foreign bank, in the country you wish to pursue your studies. Co-signing (along with parents or legal tutor) is very common for private student loans since most teenagers don't have the credit history to get a loan of such a size.

However, Study Abroad Loan that you can get from the government tend to be more favourable, as the rates are usually lower.

Some Study Abroad Loan are based on financial need, while others are much like any other loan and are based on your credit score. Loans are available for tuition fees, library fees, laboratory fees, buying books or even buying equipment or computer and travel. The amount of maximum possible loan given by every bank is different.

Types of Study Abroad Loan
It would be impossible to cover or to list all the student loans that are available out there, but you can take the ones mentioned below as examples to get you an idea.

In Europe, you can find the Erasmus+ Masters loans scheme that provides EU support for bank loans up to 12,000 EUR for a one-year Master’s degree, or up to 18,000 EUR for a two-year programme. The trick is this loan scheme applies only to students looking to study in:

a) a country that is not their country of residence;and

b) a country in which they have not previously studied. So you are eligible for this loan if you are a Danish student who wants to study a Master programme in UK, but you cannot get a loan if you are looking to continue your studies at a Danish university.

In the U.S., you can apply to federal loans (supported by the federal government) that have flexible repayment terms, benefits, options and low-interest rates.

The repayment usually starts within six months after the completion of the degree, also called the grace period. Depending on the amount of the loan, it is requested that you repay the loan within 5 to 10 years, although in certain European countries, you can repay it in 15 years.

If you have taken out a student loan for tuition fees, you don't have to repay the loan until after you finish your studies and you are earning over a certain level of income, called the 'repayment threshold'. For example, in the UK, you can borrow 8,200 GBP, but have to repay this sum once you earn more than 21,000 GBP/year after graduation.

5. Student prizes
The student prizes are exactly what you think – the prize is represented by a certain amount of money, which are not technically supporting your studies, but they can be considered as a form of financial aid. Student prizes are one-time awards and they can range from a couple of hundred to several thousand Euros.

Student prizes can be offered as follows:

for academic achievements
to reward performance in undergraduate examinations
awarded based on the results of coursework and public examinations
for the best paper in a wide range of subject areas
rewarding outstanding work submitted for a dissertation, examination or thesis, as well as for overall performance.
Final tips
Check the deadline for applying to any of the student financial support, but especially for scholarships.
Read the criteria for eligibility carefully.
The money you receive might go directly to your college, where it will be applied to tuition and/or other fees, and then any leftover funds will be given to you. In some cases, the amount will be sent directly to you in a check. Always check with the scholarship provider to see how you will receive the money.
Don’t’ take out a loan before you make sure you can’t get a scholarship.
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