Dubai: Cost of education can get extremely complicated since the expenses are never constant and varies from one a college to another.
To make costs transparent, each college publishes a set of calculators including a net cost calculator on its website to help parents and students calculate out of pocket expenses prior to accepting admissions.
Hence, it is critical for high school graduates and parents to learn how to use such calculators or create a spreadsheet as a method and a tool for arriving accurately to the out of pocket cost to families.
Here is a summary of basic key terms and terminology to help students understand the components of the cost of education:
• Sticker price: This includes but is not limited to tuition, fees, housing, meals, books, transportation, health insurance, parking permits, library ID, and other miscellaneous items. Sticker price is often the gross amount before deducting any credits such as aid, scholarships, grants, or personal payments.
• Net price: This is referred to as net cost or out-of-pocket cost to the student and parents. Net price is what is left on the account after deducting all applicable credits or scholarship schemes offered by the college. The net price is what a student will actually have to pay in the form of cash or private loans to attend college, and is a recurring payment required to continue being enrolled till graduation.
How much funding do you need?
Education funding refers to the financial support that is provided to the students for their education. These funds are given by both the private and government agencies and can be allocated for long term and short term purposes.
From high school and college students to non-traditional learners and professionals, anyone in the UAE can get the right scholarships and grants from colleges, universities, organizations, foundations, corporations, government and more.
It is also important to note that different colleges have different procedures of funding, which may also vary according to the course. The process of scholarships and funding are very competitive and before deciding the college, it is important for the students to ensure that they have all the required documents to get the education funds.
The education funds can be received at any level of education, from K-12 to Masters and Doctorate.
Where to look for funding?
The cost of college is expensive and will increase year after year as funding decreases and scholarships become few and far in between. So, where do high school students look for funding to offset the cost as much as possible?
In order to avail funding, the students need to decide on the kind of education funds they require or the one they are eligible for. Before taking a decision, it is very important for the students to take proper advice from their parents or guardians. Furthermore, students may also inform their college and then apply for the respective educational funding.
Students may also refer to the financial aid counsellor present in the college in which they take an admission.
In order to get specific funds, the students should also remain updated with important dates, deadlines, submission forms and documents that are required. Moreover, the information that is to be provided should be correct and up to date.
• Search for college tuition discounts: Private schools offer tuition discounts to their students as a part of their enrolment strategy. Explore private colleges and compare and contrast with other institutions before you make a final decision. Make use of the data on your spreadsheet to simplify a comparison schedule.
• Search for full-ride scholarships: If you have special abilities such as academic excellence or high athletic performance, you might negotiate a full scholarship to cover all of your educational cost, and in many cases pays you a monthly stipend.
• Seek tuition assistance programs: If you are looking to study while you work, many companies and universities offer tuition assistance programs as an employment benefit. If you find yourself in this situation, consider taking advantage of this discount as you work full-time and attend school part-time.
• Search online for external scholarships: Apart from checking through a wide range of external scholarships available online, there has also consistently been a rising culture wherein instead of presents and gifts for special occasions from family members, students seek funds for education.
• Consider part-time employment: Even if you are able to fund your education, it is advisable to seek part-time employment to supplement your expenses and reduce the amount of borrowed loans. As long as you are able to maintain your academic progress, part-time employment adds to your overall work experience and sustains your budget.
• Consider going to college in your resident country: Not only tuition is cheaper for residents, but many grants and scholarships are also awarded to residents.
How to budget college costs?
After understanding the different elements included in the cost of education, it’s vital to put together a sustainable budget for college.
A sustainable budget simply means that you have a comfortable level of certainty that you could fund your education through graduation. The worst scenario is to attend one or two semesters to find out funds have run out, you have borrowed a sizeable amount of student loans, and only completed a few classes.
In order to ensure financial success in your college experience, to set up an actual budget for the first year and forecast an estimate budget for the remaining years. Keep in mind to cushion your budget by adding between 10 per cent – 20 per cent to allow for increases in cost and for unexpected events and emergencies.
In financial literacy, the correct strategy to set up a budget is to start with listing sources and amounts of income; then, designate an amount for each expense needed to live comfortably and avoid debt.
In addition, a sustainable budget is a guide for you to save a portion of your money (at least 10 per cent) and divide the remaining among living expenses. Experts view this is an ideal strategy for you to use as you budget for your college education cost.
Create a list of items you will need as you set an actual budget for the first year of college and forecast a future budget for the completion of your degree.
Normally, but not always, colleges consider 12 ‘credit hours’ as a ‘full load’ for one semester, and most undergraduate degrees require somewhere between 120 - 130 ‘credit hours’ of applicable course work for graduation.
If you're interested in finishing college in four years, one of the best ways to ensure a timely graduation is to take a full course load – meaning a minimum of 15 units per semester. But students who take 30 credits in their first year are shown, statistically, to be more likely to graduate on time.
How much does it cost in the UAE?
Public universities in the UAE are free to establish their own tuition policy. In general, international students can expect to pay anywhere between Dh22,108 and Dh122,261 per academic year. You can also find cheaper — and sometimes free — study programmes, but matter experts add these are few and far between.
The tuition is calculated based on the total number of credit hours for each programme. For example, if a Master's in Education requires 36 credit hours to graduate, and the fee for 1 credit hour is Dh1,640, you will pay around Dh59,052 for the full academic programme.
Just like public universities, private education institutions in the UAE have the right to establish their own tuition fees. These are often higher, but that’s not always the case.