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Finding Affordable Ways To Pay For Tertiary Education Abroad

3 Ways to save on overseas education

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Finding Affordable Ways To Pay For Tertiary Education Abroad

3 Ways to save on overseas education

, |

3 min read

In January we reported how Johannesburg matriculant Sazi Bongwe secured admission to Harvard University.

It was a well-deserved placement as Bongwe achieved nine distinctions in his final matric exams with an average of 95.9%.

If you have similar visions of your child excelling and studying abroad then you may have to think about the affordability of it all. So, is it affordable? Here we look at the options.

Applying for scholarships, grants, etc.

Not everyone who applies for a grant, financial aid or scholarship will get it, but it’s worthwhile giving it a go., which lists thousands of programmes, encourages students to apply for scholarships through their study abroad programme, home university, local cultural organisations, and national scholarship funds.

Funding is limited generally so parents often resort to paying for their kids’ education themselves. Rebecca Pretorius South Africa, country manager at Crimson Education adds: ‘For the US, there are different funding options. Financial Aid is money to help international students to pay for colleges in the US. The type of financial aid can vary from university to university, namely grants, work-study loans, and scholarships. In most cases, the funding comes from the college’s fund.

‘Merit-based aid is given based on a student’s achievement regardless of financial status, usually in the form of scholarships. Need-based aid is given based on a family’s financial status. It is calculated using an expected family contribution (EFC).’

Pretorius warns that it’s harder to get a scholarship in the UK. However, for those with their sights set on the UK there are still some options. To find out more it’s best to look at the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website.

Alternatively, there’s the Reach Scholarship from Oxford which caters to undergraduate students from abroad. The deadline for applications is every year in February. If you’ve missed out on this year’s round prepare yourself for 2023 instead.

Cambridge, meanwhile, offers scholarships from the Cambridge Trust and this includes funding for medical studies. Pretorius adds: ‘Quite a few are given each year though most are for postgraduate study. About 20% (up to 100 per year) are given to international undergraduate students.’

Take advantage of your child’s bilingualism

The UK and America are obvious choices because English is the spoken and written language. If your child can speak a European language like French, for example, you could be in luck. points out that Paris’ La Sorbonne has no tuition fees and only a modest registration fee — about $200. The only downside? French universities teach in French so there is a language prerequisite to enrol.

If your child can speak a European language, then study in Europe could be a financially viable option. Pretorius explains: ‘The European Union along with the European Government States offer government-funded EU scholarships to attract international students into Europe.

‘Europe is the most affordable option especially for students who hold EU citizenship and can access local, even free options. The caveat here is that some of these options, like Germany, require fluency in the local language. Italy is very affordable for example.’

Invest money ahead of time

If you still have some time before your child attends university, then the key is to start saving now to make tertiary education affordable. To achieve this, investment management company, Allan Gray, recommend investing a portion of your portfolio offshore.

‘Costs are likely to be more palatable if you are saving and spending in the same currency,’ points out Saleem Sonday, head of group savings and investments, Allan Gray.

Sonday concedes that a good proportion of South African investors’ money already has exposure to international companies, particularly if funds are linked to or invested in JSE-listed companies where half the revenues of the top 40 generate their revenue outside of South Africa’s borders.

But Sonday adds: ‘If you are planning to send your children to university overseas, you may also need direct access to the full global listed equity universe that is not available on the JSE, and to earn returns in foreign currency.

‘To do this, you can either invest in a rand-denominated unit trust that invests entirely offshore or directly via a mutual fund through an offshore provider.

‘Rand-denominated offshore unit trusts are offered by locally based asset managers, who offer ‘feeder funds’ that invest everything into a single offshore fund, or ‘funds of funds’ that invest in more than one underlying offshore fund. You invest and withdraw in rands, but your investment is into foreign assets.

‘The other route is to invest using foreign currency, either directly with an offshore provider, or through an offshore investment platform. While going this route can be a bit more admin-intensive, in that you may require clearance from SARS, it is not difficult.’

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