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5 Ways to Finance Your Studies Abroad
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5 Ways to Finance Your Studies Abroad

Are you dreaming of studying abroad? The thought of exploring new cultures, gaining international exposure, and pursuing unique educational opportunities is undoubtedly exciting. 

However, financing your studies abroad can seem like a daunting task. But don’t let financial barriers hold you back from this life-changing experience. In this blog post, we will discuss five practical and effective ways to finance your studies abroad. 

By exploring these options and being proactive in your approach, you can make your dream of studying abroad a reality.

Read Also: Scholarships in Kenya: What You Need to Know

1. Study Abroad Scholarships

When it comes to financing your studies abroad, scholarships are the most popular and sought-after option. These financial aids are designed to support students in pursuing further education and can open doors to other opportunities including international internships. 

Scholarships are typically granted based on specific criteria, such as academic merit, diversity and inclusion, financial aid, and athletic or artistic talent such as painting, dancing, or singing. The criteria for scholarships often mirror the values and objectives of the award’s benefactors. 

While scholarships do not require repayment, they may impose certain obligations on recipients during their support period. For instance, you may be required to maintain a minimum grade point average, participate in specific activities, or return to Kenya for a specific duration to contribute to the country’s development using the skills and experience you acquired through the program. 

Scholarships can be offered by government agencies, individual universities, external funding organizations, or charitable enterprises. They come in two forms-full and partial scholarships.

Full scholarships are the ultimate prize since they cover virtually all expenses for the entire duration of study. From tuition fees to airfare and living costs, the provider takes care of it all, allowing students to focus on their studies and social life without the burden of financial worries. 

Partial scholarships, as the name suggests, only cover specific aspects of the study abroad experience. Some may cover tuition fees without including accommodation or upkeep, while others may provide partial coverage for the tuition fees alone. 

Now that you have an understanding of what scholarships entail and how they can make your dream of studying abroad a reality, it’s time to explore where to start your search. To make things easier for you, we have compiled a list of scholarships that accept applications on a yearly basis: 

  1. Chevening scholarship: Funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, this prestigious scholarship allows foreign students with exceptional leadership qualities to pursue their studies at UK universities. 
  2. Commonwealth Scholarship: Aimed at students from the Commonwealth and developing countries, this scholarship scheme provides opportunities for individuals who would otherwise be unable to afford to study in the UK.
  3. DAAD Scholarships: Offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), these fully funded scholarships are available to international students globally who wish to pursue Master's and Doctorate degrees in Germany.
  4. Erasmus Mundus Scholarship: This program promotes academic cooperation between the European Union and the rest of the world. It offers Master’s level programs for international students in Europe. 
  5. China Scholarship Council: This organization provides support for international academic exchange with China, offering scholarships to students seeking to study in the country. 
  6. Joint Japan World Bank Scholarships: In collaboration with the Japanese government and the World Bank Group, this graduate program is open to citizens of specific developing countries, including Kenya. It’s designed for those applying to a Master’s degree program in a development-related field. 
  7. The Aga Khan Foundation’s International Scholarship Programme (ISP): Established by His Highness the Aga Khan, this program aims to assist exceptional students from developing countries who lack the means to finance their studies. 

You might find it surprising, but even the Ministry of Education (MOE) has programs in place to provide financial assistance to students wishing to study abroad at the undergraduate, master’s, and postgraduate (Ph.D.) levels. You can explore available opportunities by visiting their website or directly inquiring about open scholarship opportunities at the MOE office located on the 19th or 27th floor of Teleposta Towers on Kenyatta Road, adjacent to Huduma Center, Nairobi.

Read Also: Top 9 Tips for Juggling School and Work

2. Exchange Programmes

Studying abroad in collaboration with your home university (here in Kenya) offers an exceptional and cost-effective opportunity to embark on a transformative journey of international education. 

One of the key advantages of study exchange programs is the financial support provided. Many universities cover expenses such as tuition fees, health insurance, and student housing, making the overall cost comparable to a regular academic session. This financial backing allows students to fully embrace their international experience without the burden of financial constraints.

Exchange schemes offer flexibility in terms of duration, typically ranging from one semester to a full academic year. During the exchange period, students attend classes and fulfill all academic requirements at the host institution. At the end of the program, they receive a transcript of their performance, which can be presented to their home university for recognition and credit transfer.

However, exchange programs vary in their specifics, depending on factors such as country of residency and the partnerships established between your university and international institutions. 

Several universities in Kenya offer student exchange programs. For example, the University of Nairobi (UoN) offers exchange programs with universities such as the University of Southern Denmark, the University of Oldenburg in Germany, Nagoya University in Japan, and Kyungpook National University in South Korea. 

Kenyatta University runs the Semester Abroad Programme (SAP), enabling students to take courses at partner universities and transfer credits back to their home degree upon their return. Additionally, collaborations between the Technical University of Kenya (TUK) and the French Embassy have resulted in a student exchange program featuring English and French language assistants. 

Another notable program worth considering is the Fulbright Program, facilitated by the U.S. Embassy. Sponsored by the United States government through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program provides exceptional international educational and cultural exchange opportunities. It welcomes students, artists, teachers, and professionals from diverse backgrounds to study, teach, conduct research, and engage in significant projects. 

Note that this list is not exhaustive. To explore more study exchange programs available to you, you can reach out to your university.

Read Also: 7 Connections That Will Help You on Your Job Hunt After College

3. University Jobs

Numerous countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and France, offer part-time work options for full-time students. Some of the university job options you can consider include: 

  1. On-Campus jobs

Most universities provide on-campus employment opportunities for students, including positions within academic departments, administrative offices, libraries, research centers, or student services. These jobs can range from administrative support roles to lab assistants, tutors, or campus tour guides. Working on campus not only provides a convenient source of income but also allows you to engage with the university community and build valuable connections. 

  1. Teaching or research assistantships

Some universities offer teaching or research assistantships to qualified students. These positions involve working closely with professors or researchers on specific projects or assisting with undergraduate classes. Teaching or research assistantships often come with a stipend or tuition remission, which can significantly reduce your study abroad expenses.

  1. Government-Funded Work-Study Programs

Universities may participate in government-funded work-study programs that provide financial assistance to eligible students. These programs typically involve part-time employment, both on and off-campus, and aim to support students in meeting their educational costs. Work-study programs often prioritize students with financial needs, so it's worth checking if you qualify for such opportunities.

  1. International Student Services

Some universities have specific positions within their international student services office or department. These roles involve assisting international students with their integration, organizing events and activities, or providing administrative support. Working in international student services not only provides valuable support to fellow students but also gives you insights into cross-cultural experiences.

To explore university job opportunities that can help fund your study abroad, start by visiting your university's website. Check the career services and financial aid sections, where you can find information about available positions, application processes, eligibility criteria, and other financial aid options. 

If you are considering this option to fund your study abroad, it's advisable to organize a local bank account for salary deposits. This can be done before you move abroad, ensuring a smooth transition once you start working. Consult with your university or local banking institutions to understand the process and requirements.

Read Also: 5 Short-term Goals for College Students in Kenya

4. Grants and Bursaries

Grants and bursaries are forms of financial aid that students don't have to pay back, just like scholarships. While scholarships are often based on merit and come from various sources, bursaries are usually given to students based on their financial needs.

Many institutions and foundations offer grants to support students in specific areas of study or research projects. These grants can cover tuition fees, living expenses, and research-related costs. For example, the African Economic Research Consortium provides grants to African students pursuing economics and related fields at the master's or Ph.D. level.

There are also philanthropic organizations like the Open Society Foundations that offer grants to students from developing countries who are passionate about making a positive impact on society.

Read Also: Why Moving Back Home After College is a Terrible Idea

5. Interest-free Loans Usually Paid After Graduation When You Have a Job

Suppose you have explored all options for financing your studies abroad- scholarships, grants, bursaries, student exchange programs, and university jobs- and still need more support. In that case, student loans can come to your rescue. They are particularly useful if you have been awarded a partial scholarship. 

It’s important to understand that student loans operate differently from financial aid. They are loans that must be repaid. As such, they come with terms for repayment, deferment, and forbearance. Some student loans also carry interest, so it’s crucial to carefully review the details. 

When considering student loans, it's worth noting that lenders may assess your credit score to determine your eligibility. A good credit score can potentially lead to more favorable terms and conditions.

While many students rely on bank loans to finance their studies abroad, it's worth exploring the financial incentives offered by certain countries to encourage international students. For instance, Brazil provides free higher education to international students who directly register with them and demonstrate sufficient proficiency in the Portuguese language.

Likewise, Iceland, France, and Greece offer free tuition (with minimal registration fees) to all students, including international ones, at their public universities.

Read Also: College Life: 7 Red Flags You Are Making a Bad Financial Decision

Wrapping Up

As you embark on your journey as an aspiring international student, it is essential to carefully evaluate and select the option that best aligns with your individual needs. Take the time to thoroughly understand the qualifications and requirements, ensuring that you meet the necessary criteria. Remember, a strong application is key to maximizing your chances of success. 

We wish you the very best in your pursuit to study abroad! 

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Karuana Mwai is an award-winning freelance journalist based in Nairobi Kenya with a passion for telling business, health, and social justice stories. Find here on LinkedIn

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