While we all know that the cost of education is one of the biggest investments you will ever make – we also know that times can be tough and money doesn’t grow on trees! Here are 10 points that could help you make your studies more financially accessible.
1. GET IN EARLY! Some institutions offer ‘early bird specials’ for those who register before a specific date. Find out if this option exists and you could potentially save yourself up to 10% of the annual tuition fee.
2. ASK FOR THE CASH DISCOUNT PRICE! If you are able to pay your fees for the year in one lump sum amount, many institutions offer a significant cash discount. Don’t be afraid to ask if they have this option. It could save you a lot of money.
3. CONSIDER A PAYMENT PLAN! Many people do not have a large,lump-sum amount to pay once-off. Ask the institution whether they have a payment plan and what the monthly instalments would be. Although this might work out to cost you a bit more in the long run – the smaller, monthly amounts could make it more feasible for you to pay systematically.
4. APPLY FOR A STUDENT LOAN! While NSFAS loans are reserved for government institutions – most of the major banks offer student loans for accredited,private tertiary intuitions. You will be charged interest on these loans though– so make sure you are fully aware of what the re-pay agreement entails before committing. Also remember that you will need someone to sign surety for you and the application process could take a while -so don’t leave it until the last minute.
5. LOOK INTO BURSARIES/SCHOLARSHIPS! Although bursaries for education in the performing arts are very rare, there are still a few out there. The ACT | DALRO | Nedbank Scholarships Programme strives to provide tertiary education opportunities to young people who have their sights set on pursuing performance. The OAKFIELDS COLLEGE/ANTHONY FARMER TRUST is a bursary fund that provides partial bursaries to deserving candidates auditioning for acceptance into the musical theatre and dance programme. It’s always worth a shot!
6. ESTABLISH A CROWDFUNDING PROJECT! Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet or social media. While it is unlikely that you would be able to fund your entire tuition fee – this may be a useful approach to help cover some of the smaller ‘extras’ such as textbooks, purchasing a laptop or software or contributing towards your student living expenses.
7. GET A PART-TIME JOB! This could be a great way to supplement your pocket money or monthly expenses but remember: If you intend studying full-time, this could be more challenging than you realise. Make sure that you first check with your Head of Department how time consuming the course is and how much free time you can expect to have. Some courses are incredibly demanding and could occasionally require you to be available in the evenings and weekends at times which could limit the type of part-time work you can apply for. Remember, once you commit to your course – your studies MUST come first.
8. CONSIDER THE LOCATION! The location of an institution is an important factor that could have a massive impact on your overall costs. Would the location of the institution mean you would have to move away from home? Would you be in a financial position to afford your own/shared accommodation over and above your tuition fees? You would also need to take into account whether there are acceptable residential areas surrounding the institution and what the rental costs in these areas would be. All these aspects could have a significant impact on your monthly expenses.
9. MAKE ALLOWANCE FOR ADDITIONAL COSTS! Don’t get caught short! Ask for an exact breakdown of costs from the institution and make sure you ask them to include ALL ‘extra’ or ‘hidden’ costs (such as textbooks, dance attire, make-up kits etc.) You don’t want any nasty surprises as these additional expenses could take a good bite out of your budget and you’ll want to plan ahead for them.
10. BE A WISE INVESTOR! As overwhelming as it may seem, you will need to ascertain for yourself exactly what your priorities are and what kind of financial sacrifice you are willing to make to invest in your long-term career opportunities.
Remember that tertiary training is probably one of the biggest and most important financial investments you will make for your future.