How to pay for international grad school

To pay for international grad school: 

  1. Compare prices at different global universities as many countries offer free or more affordable tuition.
  2. Apply for financial aid and scholarships to reduce the amount of tuition that you owe.
  3. Apply for an assistantship or part-time job to earn income that can be put towards your tuition. 
  4. Create an OFX account. Use it to save money on exchange rates when pay your school fees or living expenses.

Getting your masters degree abroad 

Attending graduate school abroad is a fabulous way to broaden your horizons, but it can also be an opportunity to save money, as there are universities throughout the world where you can get the same quality education at a more affordable price.  

Just remember that currency exchange rates are always in flux, so as you calculate the costs of your education abroad, keep those exchange rates in mind to ensure you can cover all of your school expenses, as well as your daily living expenses.

But whether you are ready to spend a little or a lot on your grad school experience, knowing the best ways to pay for this higher education will ensure you don’t overextend your budget or end up in too much student debt. Below are a few handy tips that you can use when it comes to paying for international university on the graduate level.


Seek out scholarships

Just as you can apply for graduate school scholarships at home, you can also do so abroad. Nonprofit organisations, as well as universities, offer scholarships to graduate students, and they could be awarded based upon a variety of factors, such as the country you are from, the programme you are enroled in, or your academic performance.
You can search for graduate school scholarships online, but it is also recommended that you ask your prospective university’s financial aid office. They can let you know about any scholarships that are awarded directly from the school to its students.
Keep in mind that scholarships might only be applied to a single semester or a single school year, and you will need to submit your application by a deadline. That is why researching your options early is highly recommended. Being proactive is the best way to ensure you will have enough time to fill out all of your scholarship applications, which might include extra steps, such as writing an essay.  

Request financial aid 

In addition to scholarship opportunities, there are also many different forms of financial aid that you can apply for when you are ready to get your graduate degree abroad.

Student loans for American students studying abroad

Many universities in countries that include Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom participate in the United States federal student loan program, so if you are a student from the U.S., you can enrol in schools that offer Stafford Loans, Graduate PLUS loans, and Parent PLUS loans.1

student loan

Other private student loans for study abroad

You might even be eligible for a student loan from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program at various universities across the globe. Start by finding out if the school that you are interested in attending participates in the Direct Loan program, especially if you are planning on paying for international medical school, as these loans can be extremely helpful.2,3   As a graduate student, your school might offer a Direct Unsubsidised Loan or a Direct PLUS Loan. The great thing about a Direct Unsubsidised Loan is that you can receive it without having to prove any financial need. And if you are still receiving support from your parents, they might be able to receive a Direct Plus Loan specifically for parents as well. However, in order to be eligible for these loans, you have to be enroled at a university as a half-time or full-time student, you have to be working towards a certificate or degree that you will receive from that school, and the school has to participate in the Direct Loan Program.2,3

With a Direct Unsubsidised Loan, the university will determine how much you are allowed to borrow, based upon the tuition costs and other aid that you are going to receive. And you will be required to pay interest on the loan until it is completely paid back.2,3


Work in an assistantship

While you can certainly seek out financial aid and scholarships to pay for your international grad school experience, you shouldn’t neglect the potential to cut some of your costs down further by working in an assistantship at your school.
By helping your professors in the form of a teaching assistantship or a research assistantship, you will gain valuable experience, along with tuition waivers. Therefore, assistantships can be particularly helpful if you have been finding it difficult to access other monetary aid.
Just be aware that these are often awarded based upon your academic performance, rather than on your financial need, so you will need to work hard to prove yourself first. It is also a good idea to apply early in order to increase the odds that you will be awarded an assistantship, especially since these positions are usually competitive and limited in number.


Start freelancing or land a part-time job

Graduate school can be intense, but you might have time in your schedule for working either part-time or on a freelance basis. Earning an income on the side will certainly help you pay for any school related expenses, such as your books and supplies, but it could also make it easier to make living abroad more affordable too.
With your undergraduate degree, you can already prove your skills and apply for work opportunities through sites like UpWork. In addition to using this as a chance to make some extra cash, you can also use it to build up your resume and prepare yourself for life after graduate school.

Submit your tuition without the excessive fees

Once you have applied to the international graduate school of your choice and you know how much you will need to pay each semester after any financial aid and scholarships have been applied, you can submit your payments using an online transfer service like OFX.
Submitting your payments online is a more efficient way to send your money abroad, and you will be able to save money because you will not be hit with the high margins (up to 5% on the exchange rate) and fees that banks charge. Plus, you can also avoid the high fees that come with using a credit card, such as the foreign transaction fees that are applied when your credit card has to convert your currency for you.
With OFX, you can set up single transfers to pay your tuition at one time each semester, or you can set up recurring transfers if your school allows you to pay in instalments.
You can also lock in a great exchange rate for up to 12 months with the help of a Forward Contract, so you know what you’ll be paying even when exchange rates succumb to fluctuations. Or you could set up a Limit Order to be notified when your target exchange rate is triggered so you can transfer your money at the best exchange rate.
Finding the right school and paying international school fees is complicated enough, but with OFX’s simple transfer form, you will know exactly what banking information you need to provide in order to ensure every transfer will go through smoothly, usually within 1-2 business days.
And if you are planning on moving your savings abroad, you can use OFX to easily do so. In this way, you can have a local bank account to cover your education related expenses, as well as your day-to-day living expenses.

Get ready to learn, explore, and grow with an international education

With the right strategies in place, you can make your dreams of going to grad school abroad a reality, and paying for your tuition and fees won’t cause you frustration or confusion. So go ahead and enrol in a top rated university that will provide you with the education that you need to excel, whether that school is down under in Australia or way up north in Iceland.

For even more information on paying for your studies abroad, check out our Guide to Paying for Study Abroad.

IMPORTANT: The contents of this blog do not constitute financial advice and are provided for general information purposes only without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any particular person. OzForex Limited (trading as OFX) and its affiliated entities make no recommendation as to the merits of any financial strategy or product referred to in the blog. OFX makes no warranty, express or implied, concerning the suitability, completeness, quality or exactness of the information and models provided in this blog.