One of the most daunting aspects of graduate school is none other than the large amount of money needed to complete your degree. While some people have had college savings accounts since the day they were born, others have to save every penny for graduate school.
The amount you need depends on a number of factors: the chosen degree/course, the university you choose to go to, whether you are going to study abroad or in or your home country, and whether you have been awarded a grant/scholarship/fee waiver, etc. Another factor that is likely to affect your budget is your regular expenditure patterns and how well you manage your expenses.
When you save for graduate school abroad, there are numerous factors for you to consider. Let’s begin with the budget needed for graduate school abroad and the types of expenses that need to be covered, and end with suggestions on how to save for graduate school.
Budget for Graduate School Abroad
The budget for graduate school abroad depends on the country you are going to study in, the university you wish to go to, and the course you enrol in. Universities in the UK and the US are sometimes more expensive than universities in some parts of Europe. To go to graduate school in the US, you will need anything from $8,000 to 36,000 per year for tuition fees alone and some courses may even require more. Universities in the UK usually charge £6,000-32,000 per year for tuition fees, with some charging even more.
When you save for graduate school, you must ensure you have enough money to cover living expenses and tuition fees for the entire course, which means you will probably need at least double the amount of money required for your tuition fees alone. Also, ensure you consider the city you are going to be studying in as some cities are more expensive than others, with New York and London topping the charts in this respect.
Types of Expenses that Need to be Covered
There are numerous expenses to be covered when going abroad to study. These include tuition fees, accommodation expenses (rent), utility bills, travelling expenses, food, medication, personal expenses, and possibly leisure. It is also a good idea to keep some money aside for emergency situations just to make sure that you do not get stuck in difficult circumstances.
Tuition fees are likely to account for most of the expenditure for graduate school abroad, while accommodation is likely to be the second highest expenditure. When you save for graduate school, it is a good idea to save for at least your tuition fees and rent, while you can earn money for other expenses as you study, although this should not be something to rely on.
How to Save for Graduate School
As tough as saving for graduate school sounds, it can be less daunting if you plan ahead. A few years before you begin your university education, try to get a part-time job, saving most of your income for graduate school. Make a few investments in the stock exchange or in real estate, or put your money into a savings scheme for it grows over the years. You may want to get a full-time summer job to make the most of your time and accumulate as much money as possible.
One way to save money for graduate school is to opt for first degree college education at a reasonable price and put any family funds aside for your grad school. For example, you can opt to study for a Bachelor’s degree in your home country, home town or in a country which provides good education at a lower price. Another great saving strategy is to win scholarships for your Bachelor’s degree studies. This will mean that planning should be done as early as you final years in high school, so that you can prepare well for any admission tests that can bring you a merit scholarship.
In between, you may also want to save money received for birthdays, rewards, Christmas, etc. in order to accumulate it quicker. For example, if you get $100 for your birthday, $200 as a first prize for your science project, and $200 from grandma for your 23rd birthday, that is a good $500 right there which can go towards your tuition fees and/or living expenses.
You can also try doing odd jobs whenever you have time to baby-sit, do some freelance writing or mow your neighbour’s lawn, or you could take a loan for graduate school from your parents, other relatives or friends/.
Last but not least, you can get a part-time job during graduate school to help cover your expenses. Most jobs can help you pay for board and lodging while you may still need to save for graduate school in advance to pay your tuition fees.
The list of possibilities is endless but only requires a bit of determination, planning and some courage. You are sure to find several ways to save for graduate school but remember to put your money in a savings account so that you do not spend it elsewhere.
Why save for graduate school
Iliana Bobova, an international education and career development adviser, highlights some of the reasons to save for graduate school studies instead of for your first university degree.
A Master’s degree is a springboard to your career. It is often a requirement for taking a position of higher responsibility and better pay. So the return on investment of a Master’s degree will be better that that of a Bachelor’s degree.
Also, for many young people it is better to leave going abroad until a Master’s degree, because straight after high school is too soon and too challenging to plunge into studying and living on their own abroad.
In addition, graduate school studies last just one or two years compared to the three or four years invested for a Bachelor’s degree.
Finally, you can get a full-time job after your Bachelor’s degree so that you can spend a couple of years earning and saving for your Master’s. A fringe benefit is that gaining some practical work experience will make your Master’s studies more worthwhile as you will already have hands-on experience and a totally different perspective and motivation to make the best of your studies.
So maturity, the shorter duration of the studies and the longer period for saving are good enough reasons to start saving for your grad school as soon as possible.
Hence, take a deep breath and begin saving! Best of luck and remember, “a penny saved is a penny earned”.