Monday, March 23, 2009

How to pay for a university education

Been looking around on the A-level or similar programs for my eldest son. The fee is not cheap, about RM50,000 per year for a good college in Dubai. Thinking to enrol him in Malaysia or UK. And later to enrol for his engineering course in Canada (he has chosen Toronto).

He will be sitting for IGCSE this June, already has 2As and five more to go. Expected to get all As by his current performance by his teachers.

Sending your children to university is about to get even more expensive. Here are some ways to help fund their studies.

Student protest with banner reading 'Hi Mum, I'm Broke' - How to pay for a university education
University can be expensive, as these students at a demonstration point out Photo: PA

Education costs used to be a headache for just a small minority of parents whose children did not attend state schools but, now that nearly half of all teenagers attend university, many more families must do their homework to avoid offspring graduating with degrees of debt.

Soon those debts could rise exponentially. At present universities can charge up to £3,125 a year in tuition fees and this will rise to £3,225 next academic year. But this limit is currently under review. Universities are pushing for a significant increase, which could see these fees more than double.

Under one plan suggested last week, fees would rise to £7,000 a year – with students offered a loan at the end of their course to pay off these costs. Meanwhile, a report issued by the vice-chancellors' umbrella group, Universities UK, claims that a £5,000-a-year tuition fee would not discourage those entering higher education.

Tuition fees are, of course, only part of the problem: there are also living costs; for example – rent, food, books and drinks in the union bar. The National Union of Students estimates current living costs to be £9,500 a year. This adds up to £13,000 a year, per child per year at university. On a three-year course, parents could be paying almost £40,000.

And if fees double and living costs rise, this could easily top £60,000 in a couple of years.


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