During this time of the year, students are receiving their university admissions and deciding which university they will attend in the coming academic year. It's an exciting time given the high expectations that come with pursuing further education. For example, these degrees can greatly increase the earning potential of future graduates. In this article, we provide some tips for these students and their families to help simplify this process.
Consider All of Your Options
Once you've heard back from each school on your list, it is important to compare all of your options. It can be helpful to create a spreadsheet that includes the universities you've been accepted into, academic programme, the academic programme's cost, and some notes about potential career outcomes. Seeing all of your options outlined can help make the comparison and selection processes easier to handle. For example, it allows you to visually rank each of your options by factors that are most relevant to your decision, such as cost, location, or programme specialty.
Plan for the Financial Burden
In your acceptance materials, there should be some documentation explaining the cost of attending university, including your financial aid package if applicable. While attending university can be a great investment in one's future, the upfront cost can be significant. In Singapore, tuition fees for polytechnics & local universities increased 6.8% faster than inflation from 2013 to 2017. Still, the cost of tuition for Singaporean students at local universities is a fraction of the tuition in other countries. In particular, the cost of obtaining a university education is especially high in the United States and the United Kingdom.
It is important to understand the total cost of attending each university on your list. For example, unless you plan to live at home, you will have to consider the cost of room and board. Also, students studying overseas will have to budget for flights and other travel related expenses. You'll also have to factor in the cost of textbooks, a laptop and other education-related expenses.
Consider Ways to Make University More Affordable
Many students will not be able to pay the sticker price of a university education. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce the total cost of obtaining a degree. First of all, there are many scholarships available in Singapore and abroad. Even if you were not offered a scholarship as part of your admissions offer letter, you may be able to find one through the university. At some universities in Singapore, it is possible for students to apply for "short-term" scholarships once they've matriculated. These scholarships can offer up to about S$15,000, a sizable sum for those seeking to make their education more affordable.
It is also common for outside organisations to offer scholarships once you've been admitted. Therefore, it is best to enquire through each school's admissions or financial aid department about potential scholarship opportunities. It may also be possible to find part-time employment at or near your university in order to offset the cost of tuition and living expenses. However, it is important to understand the time commitment of a part-time job, as it would be unwise to agree to a position that interferes with your academics.
Not All Student Loans are Created Equal, So Choose Wisely
For those that are not able to rely on a scholarship or financial support from their families, education loans are a good way to finance a university education. However, the cost of education loans varies greatly by lender, making it crucial to compare interest rates before applying. The best education loans can save you thousands of dollars compared to the average offering. It is also important to note that some lenders offer loans that are particularly attractive for those studying internationally. This highlights the importance of comparing the best loan offerings available in order to minimise the total cost of your degree.
Finding the Right Fit
Each student and family's preferences will affect how they choose between offers from various universities. From academic specialties to location to cost, there are a number factors to carefully consider. Furthermore, while the cost of tuition is rising globally, there are a number of ways students of all financial backgrounds can make their education attainable.