How to prepare finances for F1 student visa?
Study aboard is an expensive affair. In order to put yourself on a solid footing, it is really important that you start your financial planning well in advance. It requires you to formulate an effective strategy taking into consideration factors like living expenses, tuition fees, fluctuating exchange rate, your lifestyle and incidental expenses pertaining to the host country. Actual costs will also vary with the institution and the program. It is also pertinent to keep yourself abreast with and have sufficient information on the various financial aids, loans, scholarships, fellowships and grants.
Your academic credentials, unfortunately is not the sole deciding factor for you to get the Visa. US government wants to make sure that you have sufficient funds to sponsor your education for the intended period of stay before issuing a visa. Your liquid asset balance and financial firmness are important factors and will play a crucial role in getting the much coveted stamp on the passport. Applicants for the F-1 visa must make sure that they have adequate funds to cover all the expenditures for the first year of study, and that sufficient reserve is there for each succeeding year of study.
Overseas education in today’s time does not just tantamount to rich knowledge but is considered a serious investment for securing one’s future. Your professional success has a lot to do with the university you have graduated from and network of people you connect with. Parents are bending over backwards to ensure that they send their kids to the best colleges. In order to ensure meticulous financial planning that would lay a firm foundation for higher studies abroad, you must give take care of the below mentioned points.
- Timely planning
Overseas education aspirants must start their planning for admission a year in advance. This gives them sufficient time not only to look for ways to fund their education but also give them ample time to clear mandatory exams like GRE/GMAT/SAT/SAT II/ACT and TOEFL/IELTS specific to the university.
Parents on the other hand must plan and start putting money in bank assiduously so that there is no last minute rush. Visa officers have discerning eyes and will be easily able to gauge the actual reason behind abruptly bloated account balance.
- Calculation of liquid assets
Any form of asset that can be freely and readily converted into cash within 7 days or less is considered a liquid asset. Liquid asset includes savings account, fixed deposits, equity and mutual funds, withdrawal portion of your provident fund, life insurance policy surrender value, investment in precious metals, etc. Gold (not in all forms though) also comes under liquid asset (with some caveats) and one has to get an evaluation certificate from a government approved valuer.
- Research on alternate ways to fund your overseas education
Once you have a fair idea of fund required versus your liquid assets, you can start looking for ways to raise money from alternate sources and cover the gap. You can think of applying for scholarships, fellowship and fee waiver. Several universities are extending financial aid to international students essentially based on their academic credentials. Some universities offer assistantship too. The sum and kind of assistance offered differs for university to university and also depends on the department you are applying for. Most prestigious universities have their own Scholarship service panel which decide on scholarship to be provided – either merit based or need based.
- Education loans
Once you identify the gap between funds available and funds required to pursue your study abroad, you can approach trusted banks for education loans. Many banks are happily extending flexible repayment options, tax benefits and free insurance cover with foreign education loans. They not only provide varied collateral options but also make the application process swift and stress-free. Speedy sanction and disbursal of money sometimes even directly to the university makes life easy for the student.
Banks are increasingly coming up with favorable interest rates for students going to top-notch universities. Employability is a major factor that they would want to consider before disbursing loan. They must have full confidence that the student will land up in lucrative jobs after completion of the course and will be in a comfortable position to repay the full amount in a specified time period. They might also want to check the credit history of parents and make sure that there are no defaults against their name. While the bank wants to ensure timely repayment, students too must do a thorough comparative study of the loan options available and their financial consequences.
Higher study abroad is a wonderful privilege and a licence to an academically and professionally rewarding life. Right financial planning and money management makes it a delightful experience that pays off immeasurably.