Friday, June 24, 2016

Student Loans and You

Meet Nasser! Did the high cost of tuition in the US have an impact on Nasser's decision to study abroad? 

Cost certainly played a role in my decision to go abroad for grad school. Unlike most Master's programs in the US that take 2-3 years to complete (and hence 2-3 years worth of tuition and student loans), equivalent programs in the UK are just a year - and much cheaper than universities in the US. Not only is the annual tuition cheaper, you're also just paying for one year. The investment feels a lot less daunting, especially if you were like me and considering a career change. The process is exactly the same as in the US - you fill out a FAFSA with the US Department of Education and get loans from a lender in the US. Once you're done, you get the same interest rates and the same rules for deferment, forbearance, etc. 

Of course, there are trade-offs. Most of my friends that did their Master's in the US usually took night classes and were able to work during the day time. This made it easier to have money to pay toward their loans. In the UK, the programs are really dense (imagine a 2-year course condensed into one and a dissertation over the summer), which makes it really difficult to hold a full-time job. Classes are mostly in the day time, and students are expected to put school before employment - don't expect sympathy from a professor if you can't find a shift replacement! And finally, visa regulations are making it increasingly difficult for US students to work in the UK. While some are allowed to work 20 hours a week, others are restricted from working at all. Cheaper tuition is certainly tempting, but studying abroad might also mean missing the opportunity to work. 

Nasser did his undergrad at University of Maryland with a degree in economics and took out student loans. He decided to work as a software engineer to help pay off loans quicker. He went to grad school at University of Glasgow for international relations, took out student loans and is still paying them off.

Has anyone else considered studying abroad like Nasser for the lower cost of tuition? Startnoo wants to know!

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