I’m glad I held off on this post, as I’ve had news regarding this in the past week. One of the major concerns of students considering study abroad is how they can possibly pay for everything involved. While it’s a big investment, I’m certain the experience is worth every penny. You’re not alone though, as there is plenty of financial help available.
In Australia, the majority of students defer university fees through a government scheme – HECS-HELP. This takes the burden off students, as they do not need to begin paying for their degree until they have secured full time work. An extension of this program is OS-HELP, a loan (with 20% fee) of AUD$5000 is available each semester of a students overseas travel. I applied for this, and have since received the first payment.
Most universities offer scholarships and bursaries to students. Applications for these are generally simple, and have criteria such as international study, academic merit and financial hardship. I received a AUD$2500 travel award from my Faculty, as well as second valued at AUD$2120 which all Australian students can apply for. I have also applied for a couple more, which I am waiting to hear the result of.
There are many loans available to students through banks and online. I’d suggest this option after applying for as many scholarships and bursaries as possible, since they attract no interest or repayments. Local banks and those in your destination country will offer loans, but it’s very important that you fully understand the repayments and interest involved. I was very close to getting a student loan, until discovering that the deferred repayments meant that it would attract an additional 80% of the loan value as interest. Take a look at the links on this site, and perform web searches to track down the most secure and affordable option for you.
Since there is a great deal of time between the initial application and the date of departure, there is plenty of time to organise your finances beforehand. I was conscious of my spending up until the trip, and managed to squeeze over two months of full-time work between the end of my last semester at my home Uni, and the start of semester in Leeds. By investigated as many sources of funding as possible, I hope to be able to experience the full potential of the time abroad, and worry less about financial requirements.