Some years ago my son expressed a desire to study abroad by attending an overseas university.
I was thrilled! The boy was developing an adventurous nature, thinking ahead, and planning a future funded by above average earnings. A future that would not involve getting shot at, heavy lifting or working outside in the rain for a living.
I suspected it would be a passing fancy, like Pokémon or his desire to enter the Great British Bake Off.
Not long ago he entered that bizarre ‘tween age bracket.
- Old enough that tube fares are no longer free, and aeroplane seats have an adult fare price tag attached.
- Old enough that playgrounds and (gasp!) Lego no longer hold the same allure as Xbox and social media.
- Old enough to stay home by himself or venture out by himself, without me potentially being charged with abandonment or parental neglect.
- Old enough that he will be held legally responsible should he make bad choices.
- Old enough that I am no longer considered worthy of hero worship. My role has transcended to providing a constant source of embarrassment.
- Still not quite old enough to work, screw, serve, drive, drink, or vote.
With high school rapidly approaching, his enthusiasm for studying abroad was undiminished.
I started to look into the logistics of studying overseas.
Does he need to attend a school that offered the International Baccalaureate? No, but doing so certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Was it possible to avoid the £25,000 a year tuition that most of International Schools offering the IB charge? Turns out the answer is yes, yes it is!
What does it cost to study abroad?
The annual tuition fee for an international student varies massively between countries, between institutions, and between courses. In Argentina and much of Europe it is pretty close to free. Unfortunately my son did not plan to study in one of those locations.
The standard domestic tuition funding methods may not apply
Student loans don’t really work for international students without a local guarantor.
Scholarships are great for the demonstrably gifted, but of limited use for someone at the enthusiastic participant end of the talent spectrum.
Bursaries and grants can be helpful, particularly where parental incomes are low. The moral of the story when it comes to this funding method is “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. Even then you probably still won’t get!
Europe offers the Erasmus programme, a great chance to do an exchange year at an overseas university while avoiding a large proportion of the tuition fees ordinarily due.
For an average kid from a comfortably middle class household wanting to take an entire degree abroad, none of those options can be relied upon.
If all else fails, fund it yourself
It turns out that working out how to fund the dream of studying overseas is remarkably similar to the approach needed to achieve Financial Freedom. That is particularly true for those who are not planning to raid a pension pot to support themselves earlier than pension eligibility age.
Rather than just acting as the Bank of Mum and Dad, I wanted to use the exercise of planning out a strategy for achieving his dream as a learning exercise for my son. My feeling is he would work harder to achieve his goal if he had a hand in designing and executing the plan. We all appreciate things more when we have had to work for them.
The approach we develop will be shared as a step by step Instruction Manual series.
- Take a look at the Financial Freedom Instruction Manual.
- Explore opportunities to study abroad by reading up about the best international universities.
- If social media is your thing then follow Lego Grad Student for funny yet brutally honest observations.
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