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Article by Mohan Babu


Studying in the US: The financial dilemma

Most universities in the United States are more than happy to welcome foreign students who can pay full fees and fill their coffers. It is only the INS which has become very wary, writes Mohan Babu

May-June is the time of the year when students around the world graduate, and after celebrating their much-earned successes, start working towards their dreams and ambitions. For many Indian students, the dream is to move to the US to study. This year, apart from the usual anxiety over preparing for education in a far-away land, prospective students are bracing themselves for protracted paperwork at American embassies. Contr-ary to popular myth, US universities have no qualms about attracting and admitting foreign students. On the contrary, they bend over backwards to attract foreigners who pay full fees and tuition, lining their coffers. It is the INS (Immigration and Naturalisation Services) that has become wary of admitting foreign students without thorough scrutiny. But that is not the topic for this column. Financing is the key to a foreign education and that is the topic.

For an average Indian family, sending a son or daughter to the US for higher education can be an expensive proposition. Right from arranging dollars for taking GRE, GMAT and TOEFL, to sending applications to American universities, the expenses when converted to Indian rupees can add up pretty fast.

In the recent past, a number of readers based in India have been writing to me asking about education and courses in the US. Some of them have explicitly mentioned details they received from various universities and educational institutions in the US, regarding financing for courses and education.

Indians, for whom foreign exchange is really precious, need to do some serious math before even thinking of taking on thousands of dollars in “financial aid” or loans, especially since the tuition, travel and stay can add up to tens of thousands of dollars. Education in the US, even with a loan is an expensive proposition and the ROI (Return on Investment) may sometimes not justify the expenses, especially in the current economic climate. For instance, an MS or an MBA from a third (or fourth-tier) university in the US may help you land “a” job in America but not “the” job. The question one should ask is, “How many years do you think it will take to repay tens of thousands of dollars in loans?” Students and their parents need to be really pragmatic about the financial aspects of higher education and take a holistic view of the entire educational experience.

Realistically speaking, except for the most talented, scholarships or grants are extremely hard to come by and one should not be lured by hopes of easy money or “financial aid”. Having said that, however, a world-class education in a top university can be a passport to future growth and earnings, one that will remain with you for the rest of your life.




About the Author

  • A Bio and profile of the author, Mohan Babu, can be found at his homepage
  • Mohan has authored a book on Offshoring and Outsourcing (Publisher McGraw Hill, India), a link to which can be found here
  • Mohan has also authored an Online book on "Life in the US," available for free download.
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    For FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America, visit the Ask-A-Desi section

    ©Mohan Babu: All Rights Reserved 2005

    Mohan Babu is an international consultant trying to find the ‘sweet spot’ where IT meets business. E-mail: mohan He is also the author of a recent book on "Offshoring IT Services"

    All rights are reserved. Mohan Babu ("Author") hereby grants permission to use, copy and distribute this document for any NON-PROFIT purpose, provided that the article is used in its complete, UNMODIFIED form including both the above Copyright notice and this permission notice. Reproducing this article by any means, including (but not limited to) printing, copying existing prints, or publishing by electronic or other means, implies full agreement to the above non-profit-use clause. Exceptions to the above, such as including the article in a compendium to be sold for profit, are permitted only by EXPLICIT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT of Mohan Babu. 

    Disclaimer: This document represents the personal opinions of the Author, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Author's employer, nor anyone other than the Author. This Article was originally published in Express Computers


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