(The Free Press Journal publishes articles by study abroad consultants, Consulates, foreign universities, international students, and much more every Saturday to give its readers a glimpse of the world of overseas education.)
Studying abroad can be an enriching experience, academically as well as culturally. It can help you broaden your horizons while picking up new skills. However, students also need to keep in mind that it can be a significant expense. For an Indian student planning to study in the US or UK, it is important to factor in currency fluctuations, which can affect the overall budget.
Let’s look at a few numbers: Five years back, in May 2018, a US dollar was equal to Rs 67.72 – today a dollar is Rs 82.3 – a change of almost 20%! In the past 1 year, from May 2022 to May 2023, the US dollar has gained 6% on the Indian rupee. Thus, from an Indian perspective, you need to spend more for the same service. A more expensive dollar means that the cost of funding studies, as well as expenses overseas, has also gone up. These are points to consider if you are funding your education via a loan, as many students do.
Amit Bhandari |
To get a better idea, we spoke to some Indian students who have recently gone for studies abroad.
Prashant, a student who has recently completed his master's from the University of Chicago says “I have taken a bank loan to finance my studies, on top of a scholarship. The interest rate (from a private Indian bank) is currently 11-12%.” The changes in the dollar-rupee exchange rate were a relatively minor consideration. “I was conscious about the loan that I was taking and the long-term expense of repaying that loan. I therefore went in for a STEM degree – because it allowed me to stay in the US for up to 3 years, and get a job after completing my course.” Prashant is currently working in a consulting firm based out of Chicago and is servicing his loan. While his income is in dollars, his loan is in rupees – so a stronger dollar makes it easier to repay his education loan. For students planning to work overseas as well, a costlier dollar is not a factor.
However, it is not always a bed of roses. Prashant warns that the kind of job you can expect to find depends a lot on the courses that you take up and your prior experience. The cost of living has also increased in the US over the past few years. After taxes and expenses, there may be a small amount left to service your education loan, which typically has to be repaid in a 5-year period.
Factored against interest rates on loans and long-term prospects, the issue of currency fluctuations seems relatively minor. The Indian rupee has been falling gradually against the dollar for decades, in a predictable manner. Sudden, sharp movements seen in other countries such as Sri Lanka or Bangladesh haven’t been seen in India since 1991. Such a predictable decline can be factored into financial calculations relatively easily.
Finally, there is the larger issue of why you are going for education overseas. Such an education represents a major investment of time, energy, and money. It is an investment in yourself. If a 5-6% increase makes this investment unviable, then you need to re-look at your plans.
The author is the lead instructor with Scholarly.
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