In the first article of this 3-part series, we helped you figure out how much money you can afford to spend on your studies each month and how much time you will need. Now it’s time to explore your study options.
Before you apply to study, think about the different options and platforms available and what would be best for you. Decide whether you want to study full-time or part-time and also what you want to achieve. Do you want to become better at your current job? Are you interested in getting a degree so that you can work in a particular industry? Or do you want to upskill yourself?
Whether you’re a young high school graduate or a mature student who has always dreamed of attending university or college, full-time study can be expensive and challenging. However, studying full time gives you the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of campus life and face-to-face classes. Courses, whether undergraduate or postgraduate, range from one to 4 years. This means that you will need focus, commitment and a money plan. You’ll also need to apply well ahead of time, as courses tend to fill up quickly.
A degree could cost you anything between R6 000 and R60 000 to cover registration and tuition alone. You will also have expenses such as textbooks and stationery, and possibly accommodation and meals if you cannot live at home during your study years.
Tip: If you have your heart set on attending a university or college, speak to their registration department about assisting you with a payment plan or to see if there are any bursaries you may qualify for.
Distance learning is a flexible and cost-effective way to study. Because you do self-study and don’t attend physical classes, you can save on the travelling, accommodation and meal expenses you’ll have if you attend university outside of your hometown. You can also choose between short courses that last a few weeks or a degree which, with flexible timelines, can take 1 – 6 years to complete. Keep in mind the cost of your textbooks, which you may need to buy separately.
Tip: Compare prices for the same course offered by various institutions. Research what is included in the cost and what topics will be covered. You could also read testimonials to help you make your final choice.
Many universities now offer online alternatives to their traditional courses. Through online learning, most tuition happens through live chats on web forums. Much of the course material is in the form of video presentations, live feeds or document downloads that can be printed.
Tip: You’ll need a computer and an Internet connection, preferably with decent bandwidth, to make online learning work for you. This is a good choice for students who have easy access to a computer and who also want some social interaction (virtual) with their tutors and fellow students.
Not everyone can afford to pay for their studies. However, that should not stop you from looking for alternative payment options and financial assistance programs. Consider the options below if you need help paying for your studies.
Student loan You need a Grade 12 certificate with university exemption to qualify for a student loan. You also need proof of acceptance at a tertiary institution and that you can meet the repayment terms. If you have just finished school or don’t yet have a job, you can ask your parents or a relative to sign surety for you. Remember, in most cases, you’ll need to start repaying the loan once your studies are completed.
Tip: When taking credit, it’s important to do research and look at the total cost of credit before accepting an agreement. This includes looking at the monthly instalment, interest rate, loan term, associated fees, costs and charges.
If your studies will improve your life and help you live better, you could consider personal credit from Capitec. Get up to R250 000 over 1 – 84 months. Your interest rate is calculated based on your credit profile.
Tip: Get an online credit estimate to see how much you qualify for.
Scholarships and bursaries
There are possible funding options for learners with good academic results. Contact the relevant institution to find out what bursaries are available. You can also apply to the National Financial Student Aid Scheme for financial support. The scheme offers financial assistance to study at a tertiary institution for low-income and working class South African citizens.
If you have recently graduated from school and need an income, having a part-time job can relieve some of your financial stress. Check campus noticeboards and student-affiliated websites for opportunities to make some money. Universities also often offer work opportunities such as tutoring. Consider waiting tables at restaurants –¬ traditionally it’s a favoured choice for students, and allows for flexible shifts so that your studies are not compromised.
Action your big goals
Setting realistic annual goals is a great way to help build the life and career you want. The more practical and informed your approach, the more likely you are to achieve your dreams. We’d like to help you reach at least one goal this year, so we’ve created a 3-part series of handy checklists for 4 major financial goals. Whether you want to save for your education, a dream holiday or buy a car or home, we’ve got you covered. To find out what the first steps are to furthering your education, click here. In part 3 of this series, we’ll focus on helping you stay focused and motivated and offer tips to help keep you out of debt while you study.