Attending grad school in the US as an international student can be exciting and rewarding. But if you’re not prepared for the the financial burden, it could keep you from being able to complete your studies.
Before you choose a grad school in the US, you should keep the following tips in mind as you prepare your budget.
1. Be Prepared for Increases in Tuition
You might be able to afford the costs of grad school now, but you shouldn’t assume that tuition will always remain the same.
Though it can be hard to predict how much tuition will be in the future, you can get a good idea by looking at past tuition increases at the school you want to attend.
If you are getting a scholarship, find out if the amount increases to account for tuition hikes. If not, you will need to start budgeting to pay for the increase out of pocket.
According to CollegeBoard, tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year institutions rose at an average of 2.4 percent per year over the past decade — so if your tuition is $30,000, that means you can expect to pay an extra $720 the following year.
For a grad student on a tight budget, that’s an expense you need to prepare for.
2. Consider Unexpected Expenses
You might be surprised at the cost of certain items in the US. Be sure to understand the exchange rate between US dollars and your own currency, and look into the cost of living where your prospective school is located.
Fortunately, there are websites that make it easy for you to see a comparison of what food, housing, transportation and general living expenses cost in each area. A quick internet search about the cost of living in your new college town will go a long way in planning your budget.
In addition, you may find that there are new expenses which you are expected to pay in the US that you may not have worried about back home. One of the most important expenses to consider is healthcare.
If you’re not used to paying any fees when you see a doctor or pick up medication, you may be surprised at the costs. Look into getting health insurance for international students from your school if you want to feel financially prepared.
3. Know Your Job Options
You will likely have to find a job if you want help paying for the grad school costs you will be facing, even if you get financial aid. Your job options as an international student depend on the type of visa you have, as well as your preferences. In most cases, you can at least get a job on campus.
The library, bookstore, and any cafes or coffee shops at your school are just a few on-campus jobs that may be right for you.
Preferably, however, your job will be related to your field of study.
Check with your professors and department heads to find out if they need any help researching, tutoring students or teaching classes. This way, you will not only be earning some extra money to help with the cost of grad school, but also getting hands-on experience in your subject area.
Grad school should be a fun and educational time in your life: Don’t let financial problems take over. Before you even get your academic documents translated, you should spend some time researching these costs and preparing your grad school budget.