Twenty-eight year old, Kimberley Williams completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Studies in 2011.
Since then, she has been working at a government agency and has excelled in her job. Kimberley is now desirous of advancing her position at the agency, but believes she would have a better chance for promotion, if she had a post-graduate degree.
She has been saving $20,000 a month; and accrued approximately $500,000 in savings, during the past three years. Now, Kimberley is ready to take the next step towards financing a second degree, but she is not sure how to get there.
Troy Bygrave, business relationship and sales manager at JN Bank, advises that persons who want to finance a second degree must be proactive and strategic in their approach.
“The first step is to determine your course of study,” he explained. “You need to know what you want to study, and do the research to determine where this course is available and what it costs, today. Then project what it will cost when you are ready, maybe in two or three years time.”
He further advised that persons seeking to return to school should make strategic changes in their lifestyle and spending habits long before they decide to enroll.
“You can’t wait until you are ready to enroll and then start saving towards your tuition. It’s wise to plan ahead. Start to save now and over the course of a few years. And, even if you plant to apply for a scholarship or grant, you must have a substantial sum saved to assist you along the way,” he noted.
Mr Bygrave said this is critical, as tertiary education can be costly, especially at the post graduate level.
Here are some examples of what a postgraduate degree programme could cost at two of the country’s leading tertiary institutions.
- For the 2017-2018 academic year, the part-time Masters in Business Administration programme at The University of the West Indies, Mona was JMD$1,765,000.
- While an MA in Communication Studies or Marketing was US$11,850 or JMD$1,481,250.
- At the University of Technology, Jamaica, a Master of Science in Finance is US$13, 280 or JMD$1,660,000, while a Master in Dental Therapy is JMD$1,585,600.
Those figures do not include books, labs and other incidentals, which can make up a significant portion of your educational costs.
Mr Bygrave advised that to maximise their savings, persons must pay close attention to their income streams. “If you are employed you should determine how much of your income you will be able to save monthly, towards furthering your education,” he stated. “Save as much as you can, as that will help you to arrive at your goal sooner.”
He also noted that, in addition to salary, persons should pinpoint other sources of funds they receive from their parents or family members.
“Your educational fund should be placed in a high interest yielding fixed deposit account, which should be separate from your other savings accounts. It is also advisable to set-up an automatic monthly transfer, so that you are not tempted to use the cash for other purposes.”
“In addition, try to make ‘top-ups’ whenever possible. Therefore, any unexpected cash injections, such as monetary gifts, bonuses or NHT refunds, should go towards your education fund,” Mr Bygrave informed.
He further advised that lifestyle changes are important. “You will need to make some sacrifices to achieve your goal to pursue graduate studies. If you love to party, you will have to minimise how much you spend in this area, to ensure you maximise your savings. Cutting back on unnecessary spending is absolutely crucial,” he stated.
Another sacrifice one could make is to live at home with parents until you complete graduate school. “However, if living at home isn’t an option, consider sharing an apartment with a roommate, so that your rental costs can be split in half,” he said.
The JN Bank sales manager further pointed out that young people should consider all their options when it comes to financing a second degree. “Therefore, ascertain whether the institution you want to attend offers a payment plan; work out what the installments will be; and, how frequently you will need to make them. It may mean that you don’t need to pay the entire tuition fee upfront,” he said.
And another option is to apply for an education loan from a financial institution. “The reality is that many of us will need assistance to acquire that second degree; and, financial institutions offer low interest education loans, which requires marginal collateral,” he advised.