Financing University

At a time when college costs are rising the world over and in some countries rising at alarming rates, the question of how best to finance a college education looms larger with each passing year.  Depending on the country, it can be a rather straightforward process or require superhuman levels of patience and endurance. 

And if you’re considering university in more than one country, the financing picture can get very complicated.  That’s mainly because available aid in any given country reflects that government’s view on who should fund higher education.  Some countries see higher education funding as primarily a government responsibility (think UK, Canada, Australia, and Singapore).  But even in those countries, fees for citizens vs. non-citizens can differ dramatically.

In the US, the government views higher education as primarily a family obligation, then the institution, then the government. That’s why the process and rules governing how US universities award aid can differ so significantly.  It also explains why the US government and universities require so much financial information from parents (CSS Profile, FAFSA, and documentation for student visas).

Further complicating the picture are issues such as residency, taxes, income, savings, financial aid, scholarships, etc.  The terminology alone can be daunting.  In short, there’s much to consider and much to research regardless of the countries being considered. 

Give this subject appropriate level of time and energy, however, and you can not only survive it, but quite possibly save yourself some money in the process.

Here are a few tips before you begin:

    • If cost will be a factor in university choice, please be honest with your son/daughter.
    • You can’t get started too soon in researching the financial support options available by country and institution.
    • Costs can vary significantly if the student is a passport holder, or can prove residency.   
    • We hear of lots of scam artists who claim, for a fee, to be able to find grants, loans or scholarship funds.  The rule of thumb: It should never cost money to find money!
    • Thoroughly researching financial aid or scholarship opportunities requires time and patience. 
    • The number of options in some countries will vary significantly compared to others. 
    • Even within a specific country, financial aid and scholarship options can vary significantly between institutions.
    • The financial aid offices of individual institutions of interest are the best resources.  Make use of their expertise.

Under “Country Guides“, you’ll find specific links to start the process of investigating financial aid and/or scholarship opportunities.  This is hardly an exhaustive list, but this will get the ball rolling.