Last year as I was applying for postgraduate studies, I realized that there are many young Africans from low-income backgrounds, aspire to continue their higher education, but at the same time, the least likely to do so. The costs associated with university applications might hinder them from applying, despite the chances of gaining a full scholarship, work-study programs, and at times deferred interest-free loans. I believe the lack of microfinance initiatives that aim towards education, and the lack of awareness of opportunities for financial aid are reasons that discourage applications to higher education.
UNIVERSITY APPLICATION COSTS
Although I may not be aware of the full expenses involved, I wanted to share with you some of the payments that I went through before I gained admission to one of my dream programs.
Examinations and Registration Fees
Before I got the required results for the necessary examinations, I had to go through IELTS, and GRE twice, TOEFL once, and numerous university entry examinations, which was roughly around $1200. Leading me to wonder, if someone were to sponsor a prospective student with a microloan with long-term installments, the application rates to higher education could increase, and more financial aid eligible students could qualify to receive a scholarship or deferred educational loans.
Preparation Courses Fees
In many cases, college preparation courses are necessary because an applicant might not have the skill to pass the required examinations. These courses are expensive, not to mention the living costs if it was abroad, a great place to search for courses might be Preparation Courses Portal from StudyPortals, StudyPortals are a great source of information as it served as a way of choosing the programs that I would want to study for a Master’s degree.
Transcript Request Fees
If you are applying for a postgraduate degree application, you might have to request your transcript. I had to request my transcript six times, with the total cost of $80, this was an expense I didn’t anticipate, and you might be the same as well.
Admissions Counseling Fees
If you wish to study abroad, you may be one of the many students who are seeking the help of an admissions counseling service, and yet again your budget determines which service to go to that is if you can afford it to begin with.
Documentation Related Fees
Sometimes when you wish to study abroad, there are extra costs associated with a university application, then it would have been if you were to apply in your home country, or within the region. You might need to get translations of your academic documents, mail them, and pay application centers handling and document evaluation fees, an example of these is the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC).
Documents are either required in the institute’s language or in English, which means a translation might be required. The translated documents must be stamped from the issuing institution and attested by a notary public. Since I applied through Canadian, Turkish, and German centers, I spent nearly $600 for them to handle my applications. It took a lot of time and effort, and the fact that I had to reverify and evaluate the same documents over and over again was quite annoying.
Government Based Academic Certified Translation and Attestation Website
I kept thinking, what if there is a way to have to verify documents only once and ensure institutions of higher education of the authenticity of a student’s academic documents. The higher education authority, which the educational institution belongs to will be responsible for digitally verifying the required documents for a university application. By doing this, no further attestation, translation, or mailing will be expected to apply to different programs, scholarships, and education funds.
Deferred Interest-Free Educational Loans
For Muslim students, taking out a loan with interest is not permitted in the Islamic faith, so they face the dilemma of wanting to complete their education and going against their beliefs. Thus, the idea of granting interest-free loans is reasonable even though is not widely adopted. Every year many partial and full scholarships are offered around the world from many universities and education funds, and every year thousands of students apply for them but are sadly rejected, because they either don’t fulfill all the requirements to win an award or because of the heavy competition. But what if those students are willing to pay it back, giving other students the chance to be funded as well. By paying a percentage of their future income using a formula that caters to their income, the monthly bursary, and the inflation rate of that month from the first monthly payment date, this way the value of they are giving back will be somewhat the same.
Work Study Programs
It would be amazing if I can find all the work-study opportunities for reimbursement of tuition, that coupled be with interest-free loans that cater to the inflation rates. But again, this might be the developer in me that wants to make a software solution for every problem out there.
Collective Social Responsibility of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises
A lot of well-established business turn to their community and attempt to be socially responsible. However, many micro, small, and medium enterprises, overlook this matter because they believe their contribution to be insignificant and one that not has much of an effect. So if someone were to encourage their interactions, and ask them to contribute to the community and ask them to share with their community as a unit, they might be more inclined to either donate or engage in fund sharing activities.
Community-Based Tuition Sharing Agreement
What I always wanted to spread in the African communities is a lot like an income-sharing agreement but is different because investors aren’t looking to gain profits, but as a guarantee the institutions who are providing education for themselves or for children under their care, that they will be paid even if it was on the long term. By being part of this agreement, you will gain the ability to fund your education, your children’s education or the education of children who don’t have any guardians. Either by paying forward part of the tuition needed in the future in advance or by gaining the currently needed funds to continue education.
So here is what I am proposing that each member should commit to:
- A minimum ten years of active membership where monthly payments were made.
- Paying 2.5% percent of their income per beneficiary, with a cap of.
- Specify for each beneficiary including oneself, biographical information, current and desired level of education.
- Each beneficiary must be socially responsible with their education they were fortunate to receive and upon graduating must complete the mandatory community service hours within the next five years.
- In case of another source of funding has been gained by a beneficiary, the beneficiary can then be changed.
- Proof of income may be asked of any member at any time and in case of out of employment or change of jobs.
- Payments towards a beneficiary education will be made in a monthly manner, with an agreed upon installments with the institute.
- Members are encouraged to participate in fundraising activities.
Living Costs Scholarships
In Europe, there are many tuition-free institutes that students can apply to, but living expenses are so high with zero or little financial aid towards living costs. If there are more universities offering on-campus housing that includes bills, and meals with the possibility of part time jobs, more students will be inclined to study in Europe. In exchange, the university may require compensations in the form of community service, mandatory participation in university events could be a way to offset the cost of labor that might be needed, as for me if I was in a financial need even mopping floors will not be beneath me if it can help pursue my education.
In the end feel free to correct any misconception of mine I have never been to Africa, make comments, and suggest any of your ideas, and I don’t have much knowledge about it either, all I have is willing heart who like to help fellow Africans.
Author: Rahma Samaroon
About: Software Developer, ICT For Development and Social Ventures Enthusiastic.
(Published with permission by author)
Date: July 2018