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Financing your Master’s: Where to Start

As soon as the call comes in with news that a Master’s applicant has been accepted, it’s almost impossible to shake the smile. And then the financial reality hits. Financing an international Master’s education is scary stuff. Where do you start? How will you manage?

Start as soon as possible.

Before doing anything else, compile a realistic budget. You’ll need a target to reach before reaching out to any of the possible financing options out there. Then, tackle the resources listed on university and programme websites. Schools don’t admit students in the hopes they won’t be able to find the money needed to attend. Quite the opposite; financial aid offices go out of their way to ensure that every student can secure the resources they need. Many add your name to lists for financial aid as soon as you accept your seat; you may be offered money you didn’t even know was available. But don’t count on it. Spend time examining every possible scholarship listed on your programme’s website. Yes, every option – no matter how unlikely it seems. Look for the criteria that would exclude you from application before dismissing it.

Your personal finances are bigger than you.

You will need to consider what you can pull personally, from savings to unsecured credit cards. And, whether it’s a norm for you or not, consider your family’s ability to assist. Take a look at your current company. You may want to move on, but many businesses are willing to invest in top talent. Approaching your employers doesn’t mean you must accept an offer; it only allows you an avenue to consider.

You’re not alone; most students require loans.

After all of this, you’ll probably look for loans; they’re a reality for most international Master’s students. That shouldn’t be a surprise given the cost of education. Check first for any government-backed loans in your home country before moving on to private lenders. Some countries don’t have these resources, but those that do typically offer the best rates.
When looking at bank loans, remember that some banks require collateral and co-signers, although this isn’t a global norm. Local banks are more likely to provide financing than institutions in host countries. Thankfully, some schools will offer to act as a co-signer for their students, and you may find a better loan package through your university. But, don’t accept any loan that creates a shortfall between your expenses and the other money you can source. This may prevent you from taking other financing options (as your credit will be overextended). And, there are other options.
Prodigy Finance, for example, offers loans to qualified international students at some of the world’s top universities. The company’s predictive financing model often allows for higher loan amounts than local banks offer. Most students work with a variety of funding sources from scholarships to loans, and you’re likely to be the same. It can be a time-consuming process, but it’s absolutely worth it – just remember that smile that comes with acceptance.

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2 Responses to Financing your Master’s: Where to Start

  1. Dunk December 9, 2016 at 4:27 am #

    “…..Thankfully, some schools will offer to act as a co-signer for their students, and you may find a better loan package through your university….”

    Never know this before. Would you mind giving an example of university that offer this for international students ?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 9, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

      There are quite a few universities that co-sign student loans for international students. Note, however, that when a university co-signs an international student’s loans, it doesn’t look like the typical co-signing process.

      In other words, the university won’t just send a representative to a bank of your choice to add a co-signature on a loan. Instead, certain universities will partner with specific banks. Their partner banks will agree to waive the usual co-signing requirement. In exchange, your university will agree to take on any financial risk that could come up if you’re unable to make your payment sin the future. This is sometimes called a “risk share” scheme for student loans.

      To give just one of the most famous examples, Harvard University does this through the Harvard University Employees Credit Union. (Obviously the HUECU bank has a very close partnership with Harvard.) Duke University seems to do a similar risk-share with a variety of lending partners. And you can read about some of UC Berkeley’s risk share schemes here.

      If you’re not sure whether this kind of financial help is available through the schools you’re applying to, contact them and ask them about co-signing, risk share on loans, and international student loans without a co-signer. (Those are the three most common terms for this kind of loan help from schools.)

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