Can Poor Students Study Abroad? (Yes + 5 Great Tips)

The truth is, not everyone can afford the heavy financial responsibility that is associated with studying abroad. According to NBS, in 2020, 40% or 83 million Nigerians lives in poverty. But a lack of funds should not force you to give up on your study abroad dreams.

So is there a way to study abroad with little or no money? It is possible to study abroad if you’re poor and have little or no money by leveraging scholarship opportunities or grants, acquiring an education loan, or choosing universities in countries that do not have tuition fees.

As already established, studying abroad comes with a huge financial cost some of which cannot be escaped. However, there are smart ways to offset the cost or even attend university abroad at no direct cost to you.

5 Ways you can study abroad if you are poor

1. Get a Scholarship

This is probably not new news. Getting a scholarship is a good way to study abroad with little or no money. Scholarship opportunities give you the privilege of getting a reduction in your tuition by a sizable percentage or completely free.

This allows you to focus on your studies without any financial pressure.

Scholarship opportunities come in different forms. It could be a fully-funded scholarship with no cost to you or a part-funded scholarship where you have to supplement some of the funds.

How to discover the right scholarship for you

Your country plays a vital role in the scholarship opportunity you will get. Therefore, you have to ensure that the scholarship opportunity you are opting for covers your country.

There are scholarship opportunities for Europe, Asia, and Africa. Furthermore, there are country-specific scholarship opportunities.

However, it is better to opt-in for international scholarship opportunities with no restriction.

Your program also plays a vital role. To reduce the competition, you should look out for program-specific scholarship opportunities.

This is less competitive compared to the general scholarship opportunities. However, program-based scholarships are hard to come by.

Your financial capability also matters. This determines what type of scholarship you will apply for. If you have no money, you should look into a fully-funded scholarship program.

Check the tuition fee of the school you are applying to. For example, if you are applying to a school that pays $20,000 per year, a 20% or 60% scholarship is not enough to ease the financial burden.

Therefore, to enjoy the best scholarship opportunity, go to schools with less tuition.

By following these tips, you will discover the right scholarship opportunity for you, and make the best use of it.

Advantages of scholarship opportunities

  • Scholarship opportunities can drastically reduce your financial burden. Particularly if its a fully funded opportunity.
  • With scholarship opportunities, you have the opportunity to study in the best schools without paying the financial cost.
  • You can fully focus on your studies and abroad experience without worrying about funds.
  • Enhances your CV. There is a prestige attached with obtaining a scholarship that you can leverage. Qualifying for a scholarship boosts your resume, and gives you a 100% chance of getting a high-paying job.

Disadvantages of scholarship opportunities

  • Scholarships opportunities are very competitive to obtain. Hundreds of thousands will probably register for the same scholarship opportunity. Therefore, the chance of getting a shot is slim.
  • Requires you to maintain a certain level of academic excellence to keep the scholarship.
  • THe time time and effort you have to put in for applications. Most of which will yield no result.

2. Get a Grant

Rather than borrowing money for your tuition fee, grants are much better if you can obtain them.

Grants are financial aids that can be given for various purposes, including education. Therefore, you should apply for grants.

With grants, you will have enough money to fund your tuition, and cover your living expenses. Grant is different from a scholarship.

Grant gives you access to the money. It does not guarantee free or partial tuition, and it can be given by government or charity organizations.

 Getting a grant for your schooling eases you of the financial obligation. Furthermore, since it is non-refundable, you don’t have to bother about paying it back.

Advantages of Grants

  • Grants are more or less free money. You do not have to pay back
  • Requirements for grants can be a bit less than scholarships.
  • You can obtain multiple grants.

Disadvantages of Grants

  • There are few grants available.
  • Very competitive.

3. Get an Education Loan

Scholarships and grants are available, but they are very competitive and rarely cover all of your expenses.

An educational loan can cover up to the total cost of attendance, as determined by your school, minus any other aid received.

It can cover costs such as tuition, Room and Board, Books, Travel, Health Insurance, and Living Expenses.

Educations loans are just like any other type of load that comes with interest. They can be given by federal or private institutions.

However, for international students, it is most likely they will be offered by private institutions. This type of loans typically have higher interest rates and some of them may also require a co-signer or guarantor since international students usually don’t have a credit history.

Please be very careful and cautious before taking any private loans as they usually require good credit history and higher interest rates. You must compare different lenders in order to find a suitable option.

Things to consider when thinking of an education loan

  • Compare multiple lenders before settling on a choice
  • Only lend what you need for your studies because the loan will be prepared with interest.
  • Understand the repayment terms and have a plan for how you will start repayments.
  • Find a reputable co-signor or guanrator
  • Read the terms and conditions before signing.

Advantage of Education Loans

  • Educations loans give you the freedom and flexibility of choosing your own loan amount and loan duration.
  • Freedom to use the money how you want during your study abroad years
  • You can apply for an education loan at any point in time.

Disadvantage of Education Loan

  • High interests payment depending on if its given by private or federal institution

4. Select countries with Free Universities (for International Students)

This is an interesting one. In some countries, University education is completely free and it extends to international students.

The cost of living in these countries is also not expensive.

However, generally speaking, these are less popular destinations for studies.

Countries with free tuition for International Students

Norway: The Norwegian government places a strong emphasis on the education of its citizens. Therefore, as a rule, the tuition fee is entirely free for all publicly held institutions.

As an international student, you stand to enjoy this benefit as well. With zero tuition fees, you can study in Norway without money.

Apart from this, several grants and aids can be accessed by international students. With this, you can cover some living expenses.

Germany: With zero tuition fees, you will have access to some of the world’s best schools in Germany. Yes, you read that right.

Germany believes that academics should not be a commercial business. Therefore, the German government has made all public universities tuition-free for both German and international undergraduates.

If you are looking for a country to study for free, this is a great choice. Check out the different German universities with free tuition here.

Iceland: The Nordic country offers free tuition to international students.

Note that only public universities offer this opportunity to international students.

Therefore, you should apply to only the public institutions in Iceland. With free tuition, you will only have to tend to your daily living expenses.

Brazil: Brazil is great for students who don’t have access to funding for their studies.

The Brazilian government offers free tuition to international students. Although, you are required to pay a registration fee, which is not more than $500.

Apart from the opportunity to study for free, you also stand the chance of free accommodation – although this is limited.

As an international student with little or no money, Brazil is another affordable country to study and live in.

Tips for gaining admission into free universities

  • Ensure you apply only to public universities. If you are going to access free tuition in the above-mentioned countries, you should only apply to government-owned universities. Private institutions charge high tuition.
  • Do your research to know when the session starts and ends. This will give you an idea of when to begin your registration.
  • All your documents must be ready. Every institution has its specific guideline for registration, and documentation. Therefore, you should properly follow the guidelines.·        
  • Knowledge about the language of your proposed country of study is a plus. Therefore, take out time to learn the language before traveling.
  • Depending on the country you are applying to, you might need an IELTS certificate. This is why you should carry out extensive research about the university you are applying to.

5. Get a Job to offset the cost

If you can manage to raise part of your funds either through some of the methods mentioned above or family and friends support, you could offset the other cost by getting a job whilst you study.

Some universities will permit you to pay your fees in installment which greatly reduces the burden of raising the entire fund upfront before you start our education.

Take advantage of the option to pay in installment and once you get into the country, find a student friendly job that can support your student expenses.

It’s worth mentioning that this is not for everyone. It is challenging to work and study.

I have had the experience and whilst its possible, it’s not the easiest of things. But its certainly a way to ease that financial burden.

Final words

As you can see, there are options for you to study abroad for free if you don’t have the means to fund your studies.

So don’t be held back by your lack of money.

Take advantage of the information in this article to achieve your study abroad dream.

Wishing you success!