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HindustanTimes Wed,20 Aug 2014
Coping with the falling rupee
Gauri Kohli, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, September 10, 2013
First Published: 14:03 IST(10/9/2013)
Last Updated: 16:21 IST(11/9/2013)

Coping with the crash of the rupee against the dollar is a challenge for most students aspiring to study abroad. Foreign education experts and people studying abroad share tricks to effectively deal with the situation by assessing the long-term value of investing in a study-abroad plan.


Assess your plans
“Students should assess the value of studying abroad in a holistic manner and take a long-term view of investing in their future. They should focus more on what they can control in terms of their preparations and search for the best fit school, instead of worrying about currency fluctuations,” says Rahul Choudaha, director of research and strategic development at World Education Services, a New-York based non-profit specialising in international education.

Search for funding options
“Students should also consider colleges with a history of giving generous funding to Indian students. For undergraduates, these include Grinnell College, University of Richmond, Tulane University and Trinity University, to name a few. For MBA programmes, students can look at USC Marshall School of Business, Notre Dame Mendoza or Indiana Kelley. Also, most graduate programmes in academic fields, like history, political science, engineering, computer science, etc offer at least partial funding to admitted students,” says Kimberly Wright Dixit, a Mumbai-based foreign education consultant.

Other options to buffer the increase in cost of studying abroad is to borrow money from relatives who earn in foreign currency and pay them back when the rupee situation stabilises. “Alternatively, you can borrow money from lenders who loan dollars to international students with a US co-signer. Some colleges offer loans without the US signator requirement. Duke’s Fuqua School of Business facilitates these type of loans. For students who are worried about future plans, two to three years down the road, when the currency strengthens, they should put tuition money aside in a dollar, pound or euro account as insurance for future fluctuations,” suggests Dixit.

Look beyond the US, UK
Students can also go for alternative destinations such as Canada and Singapore, which have always been cheaper destinations for higher education than the UK and the US. Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Ireland, France Spain, Italy and even China are being preferred over the US and the UK as they are more cost-effective. Students are also looking for overseas campuses of various universities. These include Nottingham University’s China and Malaysia campuses, Monash University’s Malaysia campus and James Cook University’s Singapore campus.

Consider other costs too
It is not only the application fee and the tuition and accommodation costs that you pay. “I applied to four universities and my total expenditure just in applying was close to `1 lakh. This is when I paid around `9,500 for taking the GRE. With the current rate of the dollar, the fee is around `13,500 (exclusive of sending additional score reports or any practice test). The most popular practice tests are Kaplan which are US-based and hence their payments also increase due to the higher rate of the dollar. Basically, your random expenses will increase much more than you expect. The visa application fee increased about `24,000 to about `34,000 within the past seven months. So be sure to take into account all these costs,” says Srishti Chauhan, who will be joining LSE.

Management

* Consider colleges with a history of giving generous funding to Indian students, like Grinnell College, University of Richmond, Tulane University and Trinity University, to name a few. For MBA programmes, students can look at USC Marshall School of Business, Notre Dame Mendoza or Indiana Kelley. 
* Most graduate courses in fields such as history, political science, engineering, computer science, etc offer at least partial funding to admitted students
* You can borrow money from lenders who loan dollars to international students with a US co-signer. Some colleges offer loans without the US signator requirement. Duke’s Fuqua School of Business facilitates these type of loans 
* When the currency strengthens, aspirants should put tuition money aside in a dollar, pound or euro account as insurance for future fluctuations

Student cards that can help
International student identity card: ISIC, endorsed by Unesco, is a discount card for students, which covers everything from travel to insurance and accommodation to stationery. It can be bought at an annual fee of `500 approx and is valid in 125 countries. For details visit www.isic.org


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