How to finance an overseas education: A comprehensive guide

If you’re second-guessing a foreign education because you don’t know how to tackle the financial aspect, this guide will help you out.

Posted by Team Edisol

It’s safe to say that when planning to study abroad, finance is a major consideration. As per data from the RBI, Indian students are spending increasing amounts on overseas education, with tuition and hostel-fee expenditures witnessing a 44% jump from FY 2013-14 to 2017-18. So, while you may want to study in the UK, the US, Canada or Australia, unless you have a hefty inheritance backing you, it’s important to give organising your finance for overseas education serious thought.

Having all the information at your disposal beforehand gives you time enough to explore your options, be it scholarships or loans. But first, it is important to understand the various costs that come a student’s way. Here are a few that you need to plan for.

What are the costs associated with an overseas education?

Tuition fees

International college tuition fees tend to run high and are one of the more significant expenses involved in an overseas education. Depending on the college or university you apply to as well as the course you choose, the college fee applicable varies. Nonetheless, this is generally charged on a yearly basis and must be paid either at one go, during the time of admission, or in parts, throughout the year.


Whether you stay off campus or on campus, the amount you pay as rent depends on which country you choose to study in. For example, Russia offers better stay options for a lower amount as compared to the US. So, calculate an approximate amount based on the country that you choose and the type of accommodation you opt for.


A question you must ask yourself while planning is ‘how much does it cost to travel abroad?’ Airfare to your destination as well as intra-city travel are costs that you shouldn’t neglect. Even though you are most likely to rely on public transport, knowing the expenses in advance allows you plan your finances with greater accuracy.


Before going abroad, it is also important to make an estimate of the lifestyle expenses you will incur. This includes drawing up a budget for food, clothing and other necessities. Also, factor in any travelling you plan on doing during the course of your stay and set aside money for a good student healthcare insurance, emergency expenses, seminars, and occasional outings.

What are the sources of education finance?

Financing an overseas education programme is a big task and involves significant planning. Once you create a budget for each head, prioritise expenses based on their importance. Then, explore the funding options you can make use of.

Student loans

Banks and NBFCs offer various loan schemes to students who wish to study abroad. With your parents or a guardian as guarantor, these loans give you a chance to borrow the required amount to fund your education. Also, more often than not, you can start repaying the loan only once you start working, after completion of the course. In order to avail an education loan, you will have to submit a number of documents. The financial institution will verify your admission and application details and then sanction the amount.


Scholarship programs are grants offered by institutes to students and there is a wide variety for you to choose from. Here, certain parameters indicate whether you are eligible or not. For example, to qualify for an academic scholarship you must have a GPA of 3.5 and above, or a SAT score that’s over 1200. On the other hand, to qualify for sports scholarships you need to have a steady performance record and must have represented your country or institute at the national or state level.

However, before exploring scholarship application, take a look at the types of scholarships you can consider.

Merit-based scholarships

These scholarships are awarded to students with an excellent academic record. They are generally offered by institutes or by the government to invite meritorious students to study in their country. This category broadly comprises:

  • Academic scholarships

    Your tuition fee is waived off partially or fully when you secure this scholarship. Students scoring a GPA of 3.5–4.0 can apply for an academic scholarship provided by the country or institute in question. These are highly prestigious scholarships and are given to the best of the best.

  • Average academic performance scholarships

    This scholarship takes into account a host of other qualities apart from your academic scores. These include factors such as community service and leadership skills.

  • Sports scholarships

    This is a special scholarship given to students with strong sports and athletic skills. In case you are wondering about the sports that find a place in this category, rest assured that the list is comprehensive, comprising popular, as well as niche sports.

Need-based scholarships

If you simply don’t have the finances necessary to study abroad, you can apply for need-based scholarships. Here, you can either avail a scholarship for minorities, if you belong to a certain nationality or ethnicity, and even apply for scholarships for international students or a scholarship for women. Top universities around the world understand the financial hurdles women applicants encounter and offer financial aid to make studying abroad easier.

Skill- and talent-based scholarships

This is a unique type of scholarship that allows you to raise finance based on your skills and special talents. Here, sponsorships are awarded to students every year based on their performance in competitions held by reputed companies such as Burger King and Coca Cola.

  • Creative scholarships

    These are scholarships given to students who demonstrate exemplary talent in performing arts such as music, poetry and drama or to students exhibiting superior talent in art and craft.

  • Company scholarships

    Sponsored by companies, these scholarships allow you to earn a reward in case you score or perform well in a competition conducted by the said company.

Now that you know how to plan your finances, take a look at the top 5 universities in the world as per QS World University Rankings 2019, and the average cost of studying at each university.

University of Oxford, UK

California Institute of Technology, USA

Harvard University, US

Stanford University, US

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), US

As you can see, most top-ranking universities have standardised fees for local as well as international students. Typically, they also don’t increase the yearly fees for an on-going batch of students. This ensures that you can plan finances in advance and don’t have to make additional arrangements once you start studying.

Before you zero in on a university, check the list of scholarships and grants that you qualify for on the college’s website. Take this into consideration and plan in advance to ensure that finance isn’t an object of concern when it comes to availing the best education.