Updated on Oct 7, 2021
The United States has become an attractive choice for many students around the world. But for many students and their families, the cost of a US degree is the most important factor in the decision-making process. The cost of studying MS in the US can range from an exorbitant $35,000 to over $50,000 per year. So, what is the most resourceful way to finance your MS in the US? In this article we've curated a list of all the possible ways of financing your MS in the US!
So how are international students paying for their Master's degree in the US? What are the sources of funding for study in the US?
There are four types of funding for studying in the USA:
Funding from a US university
Scholarships from external funding bodies
Let's elaborate further on these funding types.
Personal/family savings are the most common methods of financing US higher education. However, this option may not be economically feasible for a large section of aspiring international students who come from humble socio-economic backgrounds.
This might seem like an obvious option for aspiring international students who cannot pay from their personal/family savings. But educational debt, especially in the US, can prove to be extremely cumbersome to pay off and may even follow you far into the future!
However, there are two options you could still consider while thinking about taking a loan:
1. Loans offered by Indian banks: There are several banks that offer loan schemes, especially for students aspiring to study abroad. Some examples are:
HDFC Bank Education Loan for Foreign Education that offers a maximum amount of INR 20 lacs at a nominal rate of interest as well as tax benefits to the borrower.
SBI Student Loan Scheme that can be availed by students accepted into any educational institution. It offers INR 20 lacs at a nominal rate of interest payable in 15 years.
2. Loans offered by NBFCs (Non-banking Financial Companies): NBFCs can offer tuition fees to students and are another great source to consider while taking a loan. Some NBFCs offering loans to students are:
Credila is a part of HDFC bank and provides loans at a floating rate of interest payable within a period of 10 years. It is quite popular with international students.
International Student Loan Program (ISLP) is a program through which students can borrow an amount as little as $1500 and can extend the repayment period up to 25 years. This program covers the student's tuition fees as well as other expenses.
Funding from a US University
Apart from the above-mentioned options, students also look for funding opportunities from a university.
There are two main types of funding opportunities offered by US Institutions:
Fellowships - Fellowships can be thought of as an outright grant since they may be awarded at the time of admission itself and are meant to subsidize the cost of education. They generally cover tuition and expenses for academic conferences, but they may also provide a cost-of-living stipend and health insurance depending on the granting institution. They typically last a year but may be renewed continually if eligibility requirements (for example, a consistently high GPA) are met. Fellowships are difficult to acquire because of intense competition, but they are ways - explained further in the article - by which you could improve your chances.
Assistantships - Assistantships are offered in return for services provided to the University - either teaching (TA), research (RA), lab supervision, or working in a campus office (GA) for approximately 15-20 hours per week. Assistantships are not only an excellent way to offset the cost of your studies but can also be a way to network and gain valuable experience in your field. Just as with fellowships, the duration of an assistantship typically lasts a year but is majorly dependent on the rules of the University you are studying at.
Prospective students can maximize their chances for funding if they do the following:
Demonstrate leadership qualities
Involvement in extra-curricular activities and/or engagement with the community
Show commitment and motivation in the intended field of study
Prepare a strong Statement of Purpose
Show proof of prior research or teaching experience and other professional engagements that may be especially important for certain fields of study.
At the graduate level, students will have to prepare their application carefully if they want to be considered for scholarships or other assistantships. The terms of the assistantship and the financial package will vary between universities and departments. As a general rule, funding is more readily available for Ph.D. students and students in a research-focused Master's degree. The number of awards vary by subject area, with programs in the sciences receiving more funding than programs in the humanities.
Often the process for applying is straightforward and integrated into the admissions application of the University being applied to. It may be as simple as submitting your admissions application by an earlier date, ticking extra boxes on the application, and/or submitting a CV and a cover letter.
To conclude, the key to getting university funding is to plan early, have a plan, make a shortlist of universities that have in the past provided students with funding. Applying early and being flexible in shortlisting universities in USA at which a student will be a top contender for funding opportunities is very important for success!
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