Education is expensive. Tuition costs at U.S. universities are one of the highest in the world. It takes years and in some cases decades for students to pay off their large student loans. Loan payments are one of the single biggest expenses from their working salary.
Also, scholarships are tiny and not accessible to 99% of international students making the problem of high tuition more daunting. But that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dream of studying abroad.
Below are some of the things you can do to reduce your overall tuition burden and make sure you get that great education without a big dent in your pocket:
- Study for subjects before you arrive (to waive off requirements): While you are still in school (or working), you can take a couple of courses and assessments. It not only helps you to spend your time wisely but also allows you to waive off the courses on extra credits at your next college. For international students as well, there is an option — College Board’s College Level examination (CLEP). It helps you to reduce the overall cost of the course if you achieve a minimum credit for the course. Also, while you are browsing your university’s catalogue, make sure that you are updated with all the courses and their requirements. A lot of universities let you take their own internal tests and allow you to waive off the course if you achieve a minimum score. The waiver not only helps you to cut down the cost (because you need to take less courses) but is also a confidence booster for a new student joining the university.
- Go to smaller schools: It is worthwhile to mention that going to smaller schools could be a great option to cut down your tuition cost. While a lot of universities have higher fees for out-of-state students, some smaller universities have the same fees for both in-state and out-of-state students. In some cases, these smaller universities are better for international students because they can get more individual attention. Some smaller schools are highly rated in specific departments and are sometimes better than bigger schools.
- Live off-campus: While you can stay on campus for the first year of their course to get used to the university culture and customs, you can always search for an off campus living option when they feel comfortable. Living off campus might seem costly considering costs of furniture, rent, utilities & transportation but with proper budgeting and research, good apartment near campus can be cheaper than living on-campus. Living off-campus may force you to get-off a meal plan, explore better food options, buy groceries and sometimes cook — start living independently as an adult. Sharing an apartment with people from different nationalities can help in learning new cultures, diversifying personality and at the same time enjoy being closer to the city life as well.
- Find a research assistantship: If you are interested in doing research projects and have some experience, this may be the best option for you. We urge you to research professors who match your interest areas even before joining the college, reach out to them citing your past work or your keen interest in the topic they are working on. “Reaching out to professors early and building a connection increases your chances to land a research assistantship after you arrive on campus.” While most research assistantships are paid with full or partial tuition fee waiver, some may be unpaid as well. But do not quit an internship just because of pay, a research project is a huge boost to your resume and if professors like your work they can recommend you for jobs (which is a big win).
- Get an on-campus job: We believe that this is one of the critical ways to pay for your costs at school. We advise you to keep looking for on-campus jobs on the bulletin boards and college intranet. “The jobs could vary from a library assistant to being a magazine editor to being a volunteer at an event happening within the university.” So make sure that you figure out your interest areas and see around if you have a match. Even if you do not find a match, you can start a new hobby any day according to the requirements and start enjoying it. The on-campus job will not only help you to earn some extra bucks but it also a great way to network and make some great friends within the university. Also, it shows that you are extremely good at balancing academics with a job and it gives you quality material to talk about in your cover letters for job applications.
How did you reduce your tuition burden. If you have any tips, share with us in the comments or send them to us at email@example.com.