Financial Aid in Ireland

September 20th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

irelandOne of our readers asked us to do a special piece on financial aid in Ireland, and we thought – what a great idea. After all, many international students studying in Ireland find that they cannot do so without some form of financial assistance. If this is the case, there are several financial aid options for these students. We’ve compiled a short list of the types of financial aid in Ireland.

Scholarships

A limited number of scholarships for international students are available from the universities and colleges themselves. These scholarships are awarded solely at the discretion of the individual institutions that set down their own criteria for eligibility. To learn more about scholarships offered by your school, you are advised to contact the school directly. There are also scholarships available for other organizations – you can find a comprehensive list of available scholarships for study in Ireland on our Scholarship Search.

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Britain Accepting More International Students – Study in the UK

September 15th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

britain country and map147290929A few weeks ago, the British government introduced its new International Education Strategy, the goal of which is to attract an additional 90,000 university students from overseas by 2018. According to the report, the education exports industry—which includes everything from tuition paid by international students to the overseas branches of British schools—adds £17.5 billion, or $26.5 billion, to the national economy.

The United Kingdom wishes to increase partnerships with other countries, encourage more British students to study overseas, and expand the Chevening Scholarship program, which finances foreign students studying in Britain. Business Secretary Vince Cable said in a statement, “Overseas students make a huge contribution to Britain. They boost our economy, and enhance our cultural life, which is why there is no cap on the number of legitimate students who can study here.”

Research suggests that as many as a third of the educational institutions in Britain, including some of the country’s finest, will recruit more students from outside Britain and the EU this year, continuing an already established trend. In the last ten years alone, the proportion of international students recruited to British universities has doubled. In fact, half of all students enrolled in postgraduate courses are now foreign. Read the rest of this entry »


Most Expensive Countries for International Students: United Kingdom

September 10th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

uk-139533264For students planning on studying abroad, one of the most pressing concerns is the cost. Where you choose to study can have a drastic effect on how much you end up paying for your education.

According to a recent study by HSBC, Australia, the USA, and the UK are the three most expensive countries for international students. The study was done on data available on higher education in 13 countries around the world.

The UK was the third most expensive country overall, with annual fees of $19,291 and living costs of $10,177.

HSBC spokesperson Malik Sarwar commented, “”Those who wish to educate their children overseas need to consider more factors than simply tuition fees, such as living costs, exchange rates and inflation in their estimates of total costs. On average, living expenses can comprise at least a third of total costs and parents need to budget for travels back home during school holidays. As such, there is a need for parents to ensure their children’s education forms an important part of their financial planning.”

According to new research, international students in the UK are being charged up to four times as much for some degree courses than students from the UK. In some cases, international undergraduate students are being asked to pay up to £35,000 for their courses. Read the rest of this entry »


Most Expensive Countries for International Students: United States

September 7th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

Study USA _ Female 142392157According to a recent study by HSBC Group, the United States is now the second most expensive country in the world for international students. The combined average cost of university fees and living expenses for international students in the US is over $35,000, and international students at Ivy League schools can expect to pay far more, with total costs running over $58,000.

In spite of the high cost, more and more international students are studying in the United States every year. According to the “2012 Open Doors Report” released by the Institute of International Education (IIE), in the 2011-2012 school year, international student enrollment at both colleges and graduate schools in the US increased. 764,321 international students in total were enrolled at a US institution, a 5.7% increase over 2010-2011.

A US education is likely an expensive endeavor for international students from any country. International students are not eligible for federal financial aid, scholarships are often limited, and some colleges charge additional international student fees on top of tuition. For these reasons, the majority of international student rely primarily on their own funds to study in the US. In 2011-2012, 486,524 international undergraduate and graduate students used personal or family funds as their primary monetary source—a 6.1% increase over those who did so in 2010-2011. Read the rest of this entry »


Schwarzman Scholar Program Sends Students to China

May 1st, 2013 by Ben Cohen

Schwarzman ScholarsBillionaire and Blackstone Group founder Stephen Schwarzman has announced the creation of the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. It’s mission? Schwarzman Scholar Program sends students to China. The scholarships, to be funded by Schwarzman’s own $100 million dollar donation as well as $200 million more from other international donors, will function similarly to Oxford’s prestigious Rhodes Scholarship though will obviously allow students to study in China rather than the U.K.

Starting in 2016, 200 international Schwarzman Scholars annually will get the opportunity to study in China at one of the country’s most prominent educational institutions in an all-expenses-paid, year-long program in Public Policy, International Relations, Engineering, or Economics & Business. These elite students will then leave the program with a Master’s Degree.

Schwarzman hopes that encouraging students from around the world (though scholars from the United States will represent the largest proportion) to study in China will foster an enduring academic and cultural relationship between the rapidly rising China and the rest of the world. Classes in the Schwarzman Scholars program will all be taught in English, further emphasizing the program’s mission of connecting Western, English-speaking powerhouses like the United States and the United Kingdom with the increasingly relevant China.

The Schwarzman Scholars program’s international commitment is also reinforced by its impressive advisory board, which is graced by influential figures such as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice, and even famous cellist Yo-yo Ma.

The Schwarzman Scholars program represents a very exciting new opportunity for U.S. students looking to study abroad. With its high level of prestige in its host university and advisory board, setting in an emerging world superpower, and its fantastic zero dollar price tag, the program looks poised to provide quality international education to students when it does kick off in 2016.

*Photo Courtesy of BusinessInsider.com


Ten Highest Paying Majors

March 18th, 2013 by Ben Cohen

A report recently released by NACE, the National Association of College Employers, has detailed the ten highest paying majors in the United States. The study measures these majors with top pay by looking at the average starting salary for a newly hired employee. Here’s the full list:

  1. Computer Engineering
  2. Chemical Engineering
  3. Computer Science
  4. Aerospace/Aeronautics/Aeronautical Engineering
  5. Mechanical Engineering
  6. Electric/Electronics and Communications Engineering
  7. Civil Engineering
  8. Finance
  9. Construction Science/Management
  10. Information Sciences Systems

Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority of these ten highest paying majors come out of the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. There are a few major reasons for this.

First off, STEM fields are many of the vital forces that drive our world today – the influx of computer and web technology in day-to-day life, for example, makes jobs in the above categories of Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Information Sciences Systems significantly more important than they were even a few short years ago.

Another main reason that most of these majors with top pay come from the STEM fields is that relatively few students choose to pursue these majors over the more popular ones in liberal arts, making the actual STEM-field graduates very hot commodities for employers desperate to hire workers with the appropriate expertise.

Does this mean that you should go into one of these fields just because it’s one of the ten highest paying majors in the United States once you snag that first job? Certainly not. But some planning ahead and honest soul-searching in your pre-college and early college years can help you consider what you’d really like to do and see if any of the above majors is in fact something that inspires you.

Also keep in mind that it’s never too late to shift gears into one of these ten highest paying majors if you decide that it is indeed the right thing for you. Even if you’re already finished with your undergraduate education, there are various ways such as grad school and community college that you can use to get you started on a major career change.

If one of the above majors sounds like a good choice for you, make the commitment, study hard, and be ready to land a great job once you join the workforce!


Should you get a Meal Plan at your School?

February 25th, 2013 by Bryanna Davis

As international students prepare to head to college inside the US, one of the decisions they will have to make is whether or not to enroll in a school meal plan. It’s not as simple as deciding how much you’d like to eat! Choosing a meal plan at your school will depend on a lot of different factors.

What Are Meal Plans?

A school meal plan can come in two basic forms: a plan that will allot a certain amount of meals and a plan that will allot a certain amount of money. A meal plan at your school with limited meals has the advantage of being cheaper, but is usually limited to your school’s cafeteria-style offerings and not specialty restaurants (including fast-food locations on campus). Meal plans that charge money from an account can generally be used at any restaurant on campus (and sometimes even at on-campus stores and off-campus restaurants), but you will need to keep close track of your budget so you don’t run out and wind up paying for food out of pocket!

When do I Need a Meal Plan?

Getting a meal plan at your school is almost always a good choice if you fit a certain few criteria. First, a school meal plan will be most useful if you live on or very near campus, allowing you to make it to participating cafeterias/restaurants regularly and get the full benefit of your school’s meal plan. Second, look at the lifestyle you’ll be living in the coming school year. Will you be in a tiny dorm room with just a microwave and mini-fridge? Will you be so busy that cooking your own food is out of the question? If getting a meal plan at your school would positively complement your lifestyle for the semester it can be a great option.

When Don’t I Need a Meal Plan?

If you have specific dietary restrictions, contact your school to find out if any of their participating options available are acceptable to you. Many larger schools will work to accommodate a variety of dietary choices, but if you don’t think you would be happy with what your school offers then skip the meal plan and prepare your own meals. Also, if you’re far away from campus and unable to fully benefit from a meal plan or if you would simply rather prepare your own food, a meal plan certainly isn’t a necessity!

A school meal plan can be a great way to make life easier and to manage your budget. Look into what your school offers and get ready to eat!


Finding a Job During School

February 11th, 2013 by Ben Cohen

working on campusFor international students who don’t receive significant financial aid and need some extra help funding their education in the USA, finding a job is one of the best ways to make ends meet. But, just like with financial aid, on-campus jobs can be hard to come by for international students due to legal red tape. Here are a couple tips to help you go about finding a job to facilitate your education:

  • Know your student visa limitations

Student visas, such as the F-1 visa, restrict international students’ legal right to work in the United States, even if they need a financial boost during college. Students on a F-1 visa can only work in certain capacities, the most freely offered one is on-campus employment. For on-campus work, an F-1 student is subject to the following rules:

  1. You must maintain valid F-1 status
  2. You can work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session
  3. You can work full-time on campus during holidays and vacation periods if you intend to register for the next academic semester.
  4. The employment may not displace (take a job away from) a U.S. resident

Some exceptions can be made such as if a student is approved for severe financial hardship or an off-campus job on OPT or CPT status. Make sure you check the specific details of your own student visa so you know if you are eligible to work in the United States.

  • Check for jobs off campus

Part of the federal aid that is unavailable to international students is work study, which helps US citizens get on-campus jobs to fund their education. Plenty of on-campus jobs are not officially limited to work study applicants, but work study employees are legally allowed to be paid with federal funds. If you’re an international student worried about finding a job on-campus, check with your advisor to see what options are available and try widening your search to unaffiliated employers in the immediate area where your ineligibility for work study won’t be a disadvantage.

  • Start early

With all the obstacles international students face in finding a job, don’t add getting a late start to your personal list of difficulties! If you are eligible to work in the U.S., start your job hunt before you actually need the money from a job. It may be hard to focus on the job hunt while adjusting to college life, but keep in mind that it is for other students too – so starting on it right away will give you a big head start!

* Photo of paying money courtesy of Shutterstock


5 Financial Considerations When Choosing a School

February 5th, 2013 by Jennifer Frankel

student in libraryOne of the most important decisions international students will face is what school they choose to pursue their degree program. This is one of the most critical decisions since it will financially determine the costs over the next few years. The school you choose can determine whether you are set up for financial success – or failure.

Think about it. If you are an international student planning to study in the US, there are over 2,000 universities that you can go to that accept international students. Your primary purpose is to enroll, get an education, and translate that into the opportunity to have a good job that will allow you to earn even more money (not to mention, a rewarding career!). College costs money, especially for international students, and the costs can vary greatly. You don’t just have to worry about tuition, but there is the cost of textbooks, housing, food, other educational fees, health insurance, electronics and more.

To help you out, here are 5 financial considerations when choosing a school:

  • Evaluate the tuition costs

If you’ve done your research, then you know that US public colleges tend to be more affordable than private universities. Even though international students can expect to pay the out-of-state tuition at a public institution, this tends to still be more affordable than a private school. If you have a list of schools you plan to apply to, create a cost comparison chart and see what makes financial sense to you!

  • Find out what financial assistance is available

No matter if you are looking at private or public university, financial aid for international students is limited. That being said, however, schools have different budgets allowing some schools to provide more financial assistance to international students than others. Check with your potential schools to see what financial aid is available. Ask questions like, do they offer need based aid? Is there an opportunity to get on-campus employment (and if so, what’s the likelihood of being able to do so?)? What is the likelihood of getting financial aid, even if it is not need base? If so, how much can be expected?

  • Check to see what employment opportunities exist

Some colleges and universities have a budget that allows them to hire international students part time. US students have what’s called “work study” which allows federal funds to pay for student employees. While this is not available for international students, some schools allocate funds to allow their international students to work in compliance with their visa employment restrictions. Check with your school(s) to see whether this is an option, but keep in mind that the amount you’ll make will be small and only cover miscellaneous expenses.

  • Consider the cost of living in the area

New York City, San Francisco, and Washington DC are some of the key cities international students dream of living. Did you also know that these are some of the most expensive cities to live in as well? New York City is ranked #1, San Francisco #2, and DC is ranked #7 as the most expensive cities to live in throughout the US, according to Kiplinger. If you are looking for a high quality education but don’t have a lot of funds to support your education, be sure to consider the cost of living of the town in which your school is located. This will also affect what you’ll be able to do off campus, because the less expensive the town, the farther your money will go.

  • Compare your projected income to your total degree cost

If you have your heart set on a top, ivy-league school, do a cost-benefit analysis to see what the costs will be – and then see how it compares to your projected income According to Mark Kantrowitz, founder of FinAid.org, “if your total student loan debt is less than your annual income, you’ll be able to repay that debt in about 10 years.” While it may be difficult to forecast your projected income, it’s worth the research to ensure a good investment. Check out Salary.com to see what your projected income would be if you land a job in the US after graduation. It would also be advantageous to evaluate your projected income in your home country as you will still be responsible for paying back any money borrowed.

* Photo of girl in library courtesy of Shutterstock


Away From Home For The Holidays

December 24th, 2012 by Jennifer Frankel

Whether or not you celebrate any of the many religious holidays found at the end of the year, being at school and not home with your family during this time can get a little lonely. Unfortunately, given the added complications of travel for many international students, this is often the case at this time of year. Let’s take advantage of the situation and look at some things international students can do to keep busy while they’re away from home for the holidays.

Work Study

A lot of international students get some financial aid through on-campus jobs, though the amount of work can be limited by competition from other working students and visa regulations. If you are fortunate enough to have a work study job that still requires staffing during holiday time, put in as many hours now as your student visa will allow! With the great majority of students heading back home, it’s a great idea to rack up some serious work hours as long as you’re away from home for the holidays.

Applying for Scholarships

The scholarships out there for international students vary in a lot of ways, and one of those ways is in their application deadlines. Still, a lot of these deadlines coincide with general application deadlines early in the year, in January and February. Since those months (usually representing the start of a new semester) can be busy for current students, take the time that you’re away from home for the holidays to get some of the leg work done now in researching and applying for the scholarships that are available to you.

International Advisor

Most schools have some sort of international advisor, but during the school year this person can be difficult to arrange a meeting with. Since school staff are likely to live around the school they work at and thus spend the holidays in the area, they may be available to you for some rare one-on-one time that you wouldn’t be able to get any other time of year. Meet with them to discuss anything from financial aid to student visas to just making the most out of your holiday time away from home.

Wishing you all the best in financing your education in 2013. Happy Holidays from IEFA!

* Happy Holidays Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock