Rupee making you worry in going for Higher studies?

Adarsh Khandelwal
Higher Education is a long term investment. It would be whimsical of applicants to allow currency fluctuations to dictate their long-term educational, career and life plans.

By doing so, they would be no better than panicking stock market speculators. Currencies rise and fall, but the value of a quality education and brand is lifelong.

So, before stalling their foreign education plans, students should think hard. Universities in India in their recent attempts to shift focus from quality academics to shoddy vocational courses are
getting no better.

For the best and brightest, top universities abroad should still be the target.

The sticker price of an education in the US over four years is around $100,000 plus. For every one rupee fall in INR's value, the cost rises by INR 1,00,000.

Hence, for applicants accepted in April 2013 when the rupee was around 56-57, the cost of education has gone up by signficantly. So yes, the rupee's fall has made education abroad much dearer to parents who had budgeted for it to the T.

But it must remembered that not all students pay full fee, there is a sizable number of students on generous financial aid packages. Living expenses too rise, as a result of the rupee's fall but if students really want to make things a bit easier for their parents, they have the option of taking up campus jobs to cover a part of their living expenses.

Also, some internships in the US, especially those in Computer Science, pay students upto $800-1000 per month which works out to about 12-15K USD P/A. If students do their bit, they can take a huge burden off their parents' shoulders.

So, simply put, dreams are affected but at the same time, there are always ways to make things work out.

Taking the case of Stanford. Some one who holds Computer Science degree from Stanford stands to earn-- on an average-- over $94000 in his first year out of college.

If you lie in the top 20% of your class and have spent your college years productively, expect to earn even more than that.

So, with well-paying internships and a good college performance, one could make it possible to alleviate a large amount of financial stress and at the same time, even make an educational loan a viable option.

No country has received a dramatic decrease in applications from India. Across the board, whether it's US, UK or Singapore, the primary destinations, we have witnessed an inflation in demand.

Education costs are on the rise irrespective of economic environment, so scholarships help in any environment. It must be noted that almost all scholarships abroad are awarded on the basis of financial need and not purely merit.

So, its only the meritorious but financially weaker applicants who are usually eligible for scholarships. An example could be the case of a student from West Bengal a few years ago who went to MIT.

The son of a rickshaw puller (correct me if I'm wrong), there was a very low likelihood of him being able to afford MIT. But MIT wanted him and funded his entire education. So, in effect, if you're good, chances are that there will be a university out there for you.

Bank loans can be helpful but note that if you take a loan from India interest rates are significantly higher that those abroad and they are only likely to rise from the signals the RBI appears to be giving.

Also, an education loan from India cannot fund your entire degree; you will have to make a sizable contribution (and provided Collateral!). Loans abroad are cheaper but the process is often very complicated for Indian residents without a relative in the foreign country.

Some colleges do offer internal loans and if the interest rate is reasonable, they are worth it. At the same time, in recent years, student debt has grown to become  bubble of more than Trillion dollars. Economists fear that in 5-12 years, it could lead to another sub-prime mortgage like crisis. So, it would be wiser to try for financial aid.

-Adarsh Khandelwal
Co- founder, Collegify

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