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How to finance your study abroad

Studying abroad is a unique experience for individuals. However, the cost of overseas education can be a huge financial burden for many. This should not be a barrier for you to cancel or delay your dream of studying abroad. Here are some suggestions to fund your education in foreign countries:

Learn to save for the costs of overseas education

Having a stable financial source is essential for the success of any short-term or long-term plan. Starting to save early can help you be prepared for your child's education, retirement plan, or any emergency.

So, whether you're looking to study abroad or planning for your child's overseas education, here are 3 ways to start saving:

Plan a budget for each of your expense before studying abroad

You'll need to know what your savings goal is in order to help you avoid extravagant spends. Create a budget plan for yourself in just four steps:

Step 1: Keep track of your monthly income

The best time to plan a budget is at the beginning of the month or at the end. List all sources of income including salary, allowances, interest on savings or even money given by relatives.

Step 2: Start with fixed expenses

Note down all fixed expenses such as rent, utility bills, phone bills, insurance premiums, children's tuition fees, or personal debts. Subtract this from your total income to see how much you have left over for other expenses. 

Step 3: Track daily expenses

Categorise your daily expenses. For example, food, commute, clothing, entertainment and a few others. This will help you identify items which are over your budgets and where you can cut back.

Step 4: Set a savings goal

Once you know your personal finances and monthly expenses, carve out a savings budget for yourself. This budget should be defined as either short-term or long-term and it should be in balance with your income.

For instance, you intend to study abroad in the next 5 years, and the estimated cost of overseas education is approximately VND 2 billion. If you don't have a part of this sum in advance, you'll need to save up for VND 400 million/year for the next 5 years. But if you plan ahead, the amount to save each year will be smaller.

Choose a suitable university

Every country has a different education system and so, every foreign school is not necessarily expensive. There are public universities and colleges in some countries that don't charge any tuition fees for international students, except administrative and registration fees.

If you are interested in studying at a free (or almost) university, Europe is an ideal destination. Europe has always been known for its high-quality but affordable academic programs because higher education there is subsidised. Germany, France and the Nordic countries are few of the countries that offer free higher-education to students, according to HSBC International, Banking & Resources.

Save on living expenses as much as you can when you're studying

According to the Value of Education, published in 2018 by HSBC Holdings plc, living expenses are the top of parental funding. Here's the list of living expenses and how you can save up some money:

  • Housing
    Renting out your own place costs more than sharing it with others. Find a roommate so that you can share the fees together.
  • Meals and Groceries
    Do your own grocery shopping and cooking. Many stores and supermarkets even offer great student discounts. You can also register for a loyalty program at the supermarkets and benefit from the reward points.
  • School supplies
    Some specific programs such as art/design, might need you to pay more for certain course materials. School supplies are not always cheap, but renting them or buy them second-hand can help you save costs.
  • Transport fees

    For daily commute, the best option is using public transportation. If you want to get some exercise on the way to school, getting a bike is also a good idea.

    However, as an international student, you may have to travel back home during breaks. International flights are expensive and it can be a worry when you miss home and want to visit your family. You can reduce the costs by booking your flights early or choosing an economical airline.

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Search for scholarships

Getting a scholarship is one of the most common ways to fund your education overseas. A scholarship can cover 100% or just a part of your tuition fee – either way it's very helpful.

Contrary to the common belief that scholarships are limited and the odds of winning one are very low, if you start your search early, winning a scholarship might not be out of your reach. Here's everything you need to know about scholarships:

Types of scholarships

  • University scholarships

    These scholarships are often merit-based scholarships. Students can be awarded with these, based on criteria assessed by the university such as academic performance, achievements, talents etc. Some universities even have scholarships for students who exhibit the university's core values.


    Merit-based scholarships, however, are not entirely limited to student's academic excellence. So, don't worry if you are not top of the class. Participating in extracurricular activities, community work and demonstrating excellence in leadership roles will make you a potential candidate for valuable scholarships. You can find all the information about scholarships on the website of the university or college that you want to attend.

  • Government scholarships

    This is sponsored by the government, from its budget for education purposes. You can look for scholarships offers both by your country's government or the government of the country you plan to study in. Government scholarships are said to be prestigious. If you successfully get one, not only are your tuition fees covered in full but your living expenses are also funded.


    With all its valuable benefits, government scholarships are extremely competitive. Some of the prominent government scholarships you can check out are Fulbright (US government); MEXT (Japanese government); DAAD (Germany government); Chevening (UK government) and many more.

  • Sports scholarships

    If you want to pursue an international degree and play your favourite sport at the same time, this scholarship is for you. Sports scholarships are not that common, so you might want to research and prepare everything about them a year or two prior to the commencement of your course.

    Additionally, you might need to include all your sports achievements and awards in your application. Make sure to contact the university's coach, who will decide whether you can get a sports scholarship. The disadvantage of this mode of funding is that it's hard to get a full scholarship. Therefore, consider applying a few other savings methods to ease your financial stress.

    Find out if your dream school is in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). If so, you'll need to study NCAA's licensing process. If you want to know more about sports scholarships, check out the websites of National Collegiate Athletic Association, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and National Junior College Athletic Association.

  • Grants (need-based scholarships)

    Grants are often known to be a need-based financial aid. You don't have to pay back for this type of financial assistance. Therefore, this is a good amount of money to support your overseas education costs.


    To be eligible for grants, you must prepare documentation on family income or furnish tax forms to prove your financial needs. However, the number of grants and bursaries are usually limited in a year, so you'll have to apply early.

How to start your scholarship hunt

  • Sort out options that suit you the best

    Why do you need a scholarship? Which types of scholarships are best for you? Ask yourself these questions. If it's because of your financial situation, you should strive for scholarships that can cover full or most of your expenses during your study abroad.

    If you have a specific major that you want to pursue, look for scholarships in that particular field of study.

  • Keep track of important dates
    When you have a list of the scholarships you want to apply for, keep up with all the due dates by making a calendar and agenda for each application.
  • Focus on your writing skills
    You might need to provide your personal statement or essay when applying for a scholarship. This is a chance for you to pitch yourself to your favourite school. Consider brushing up your writing skills. Don't be hesitant to ask someone to review your essays. It can be your counsellor or a friend who has already successfully applied for a scholarship.
  • Keep applying
    It's normal to not hear back on your applications or get rejected. Apply for multiple scholarships to improve your chances of getting one.

Start investing and grow your wealth

Planning for your education expenses shouldn't be all about cutting costs and giving up your hobbies or entertainment to save up money. In fact, you can do more than just save by investing to grow your wealth.

The idea of investing to build wealth might not be familiar to some people, but it's the path to achieve your financial goals and enjoy your life better.

If you don't feel the rush to study abroad right after graduating from high school, you can prepare for the expenses by investing a small sum in mutual funds for a while.

This is an HSBC Premier affiliate program that helps you meet your financial goals.

With diversified portfolios, your money will be invested alongside many other investors. If you don't have much time or knowledge about investing, don't worry; the day-to-day investment decisions will be made by a professional fund manager.

Currently, there are different types of assets in the financial market such as stocks, bonds and other asset classes. Depending on the fund strategy, your money will be invested in one or more different assets.

How mutual funds benefit you?

  • Diversification in one investment
    With a varied portfolio, a mutual fund helps you diversify your risk better than buying into a single asset.
  • Liquidity
    Easily buy and sell mutual funds on a daily/weekly basis.
  • Low costs and investment commitment to access a basket of securities
    You can enjoy a lower cost when you access a portfolio of investments compared to buying them individually.
  • Access to different investment instruments
    Explore investments in wide range of sectors which an individual can't easily have access to.
  • Professional management
    Dedicated wealth professionals whose expertise on mutual funds you can count on.

List of funds by VinaCapital:

Vinawealth Enhanced Fixed Income Fund (VFF)

VFF invests in government bonds and corporate bonds issued by highly creditworthy institutions, with the main investment objective of preserving initial capital and generating regular income in the medium-to-long term.

This one is considered a low-risk fund, suitable for investors who desire to achieve relatively stable returns in the medium-long terms.

VinaCapital Insights Balanced Fund (VIBF)

VIBF invests equally in bonds and equities. It gives investors the opportunity to participate in equity upside while limiting overall portfolio volatility.

This one is considered medium risk, suitable for investors who expect average and stable returns over the medium to long-term.

VinaWealth Equity Opportunity Fund (VEOF)

VEOF invests in the stocks of companies with large market capitalizations and high growth potential.

This one is considered medium to high risk, suitable for investors who expect high returns and can tolerate short-term volatility.

Vietnam Equity Spcecial Access Fund (VESAF)

VESAF invests in the stocks of companies with small and medium market caps and high growth potential.

This one is considered medium to high risk, suitable for investors who expect high returns and can tolerate short term volatility.

We are here to help you compare funds to find out which  one is suitable for your preferences and needs on parameters such as risk level and investment strategy.

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Once we understand all your needs, including your investment objectives and elements of risks you'll be willing to take, we can help you choose investments most suitable for you.

Get a job while studying abroad

Working is one of the ideal ways to support your expenses while studying abroad. It's also the quickest way for you to adapt to the culture and lifestyle of the country you are in.

You can apply for an on-campus job to better connect with the staff, students and faculty. The experience will also look good on your resume when you graduate. If you want to apply for a job off-campus, here's how to find one:

  • Connections

    Building connections is a great way to get employed. Try to make acquaintances with people around you – whether in your school or outside.

    Participating in community events or volunteering for charity organisations is another good way to expand your network. This helps you meet more local people, who can refer you to a company in the future.

  • School career services
    All schools offer career-related services. Take part in the various career workshops and events to explore different opportunities. Consultants in this departments can advise you on how to improve your resume and perform in interviews. Thus, helping you succeed in applying for jobs.
  • Community forums for international students

    There are forums and groups for international students or people who settle abroad. You can find them on social media to get tips on job applications and even search for opportunities.

    You will also find these forums to be informative and helpful, beyond just job hunting.

Studying abroad opens up a whole new world of opportunities for you. The experiences of an international education will shape you and prepare you for the future. If you start planning early, studying abroad won't really be a financial burden.

Join HSBC Premier today to make your dream of studying abroad come true!

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