How to salvage your dream of studying abroad in these times ?


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Much planning goes before studying abroad. The academic year usually begins in the month of September (Fall 2020 and so on) for many universities abroad.

The student starts researching universities and their courses at least a year earlier. Then, preparation begins for standardized tests like GMAT, GRE or SAT. The resultant score gives a fair idea of where they stand and accordingly applications are made to various universities.

But this time, because of the outbreak of COVID-19, admissions processes have been thrown off-gear.

Students planning to study abroad would therefore:

1. Check financial footing

Evaluate the financial position of the guarantor for your education loan. Many have lost their jobs to the pandemic, while salary cuts are rampant. Check if your guarantors (usually the parents) are still on a strong financial footing. As far as possible, work towards getting more financial aid and scholarships from universities without dipping into their retirement savings.

2. Actual Outlay

Studying abroad can typically cost Rs 50 lakh or more depending on the duration of the course and the location. A sharp depreciation of rupee against the concerned foreign currency could mean shelling out more. In the last three months, the rupee has depreciated by about six per cent against the dollar and euro, while appreciating slightly against the UK pound. Effectively, it would mean paying Rs 3 lakh more for a Rs 50 lakh course in the US or Europe. So, check the impact of currency movements on your actual spends as well as your household budget.

3. What’s the ROI?

The world economy is going through one of its worst phases with favoured study destinations of US, UK, Australia , Canada, Italy and Spain being impacted by the virus. This, in turn , means the employment scenario in the region once you finish your studies will be less than ideal.

Moreover, with campuses remaining closed, it ‘s likely that some part of your course will be conducted online. Does it make sense to spend big money to only attend online classes – albeit in reputed universities?

Also, if you plan to come back to India, will a local job pay you enough to repay a loan taken in foreign currency? Don’t forget the first-year salary rule. You shouldn’t take out more in student loan than that you expect to make from your first year on the job.

4. Reach out

Test their admission process with universities. Many are waiving application fees, while some B-schools are doing away with GMAT scores altogether in their admission process and relying instead on strong qualitative educational backgrounds.

Also, check the eligibility in the light of the likely delay in the award of local degrees and high school certificates. It ‘s probable that universities may postpone the course by a semester or provisionally award you entry subject to clearing the compulsory exams in the future.

If you already have a university admission note, ask about any changes due to visa restrictions for foreign students. Do remind yourself on the withdrawal and repayment process, when checking with your bank for relevant costs in the event of termination of the education loan.

Additionally, test the qualifications in the light of the possible gap in the grant of local degrees and high school certificates. It ‘s probable that universities may postpone the course by a semester or provisionally award you entry subject to clearing the compulsory exams in the future.

5. Make Training B

If you move to COVID-19 affected countries, check if immigration is safe and what the on-campus hygiene standard is. Getting sufficient medical benefits will reduce financial risk when living overseas.

Even, probably, imagine deferring or changing your research plans. Some countries have already cancelled visas without further notice. Some universities might be willing to take you next year. Alternatively, you can explore studying in safer countries.

If you defer your study plan, use the time available instead by taking relevant online courses or a career. If you have yet to pass eligibility checks, base your efforts there.

Takeaway

The changing economic climate around the globe has, in effect, changed the financial opportunities of studying abroad. Review your choices carefully before you pass.

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