Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 27th 2014 Contents JULY 27 • 2014 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | SBG5
this. However, the real issue was the high
cost of living.
Carla took the decision to accelerate her
programme, doing several more credits than
the average student and finishing the course
in a year.
"The less time you spend, is the less time
spend on housing so your costs will go down."
Her mother, a senior public servant, used
an insurance policy as collateral to borrow
$150,000, which they thought would cover
her costs. Carla admitted they underestimated
what she would need which, at times, led to
difficulty. US student visa requirements are
such that, in most circumstances, it is illegal
to find work off campus and Carla said jobs
on campus were at a premium.
When giving advice to other prospective
internationals, she said as collateral, cash was
king with banks.
"We would have been able to borrow more
if we had liquid cash in a fixed deposit. If
we defaulted on the loan, it would have been
harder for them to get their money back from
the insurance policy. If you provide cash, you
can also negotiate a lower rate with the bank
on the loan."
Lisa and Tim, were both the recipients of
partial scholarships to their Ivy League school.
Even with those, coming up with the remain-
der was crippling. Where attendance at a
regular college may run a prospective student
into the US $20,000-$30,000 range, the Ivy
League is, literally, in a class by itself.
"The entire sum was around half a million
in TT dollars," said Lisa.
This is the equivalent of US$80,000. In
addition to the partial, covering half of this,
Lisa was able to get US$25,000 from a civil
society organisation. An aunt would fully
secure a loan for TT $116,000 to make up
the rest of tuition, as well as something extra
for expenses. Lisa said the bank is still holding
her aunt's fixed deposits as collateral as she
works to pay off the loan over the next three
years. Her installment is TT$2,300 a month.
Tim's mother and father also split the
expenses between them. His mother paid for
his room and board and his father paid the
tuition that the scholarship did not cover.
Tim said his father took a loan, but he was
unsure of the details. Tim was able to write
freelance while in New York, earning around
US$300 a month.
Both Lisa and Tim thought the investment
was well worth it.
"You are not paying for the degree so much,
as to be a member of the alumni network,
because alums will hire alums," said Lisa.
Tim said the Ivy League degree would give
him enhanced marketability, not just home,
but abroad as well.
He said, "I don't want to work in Trinidad
all my life."
Janice did her undergraduate degree in
Jamaica, where she was able to take advantage
of a favourable exchange rate. To do her grad-
uate studies in London, she would borrow
the US equivalent of £12,000 from her moth-
er, who works at a nurse in the States.
Kavita, meanwhile, was a resident of Cana-
da and was able to use her status to get lower
fees for both her undergraduate and graduate
Republic Bank representative, Sarah Lalla,
who was present at the US Information Serv-
ice seminar, presented another option: that
turning the equity in one's home into cold
"Mortgages are really simple in the sense
that if you already have a mortgage with us.
Let us say that your parents have a mortgage
of $300,000, but the property is worth
$700,000, you can use the equity on it, which
This choice has its limits. The life of the
loan can only extend to the life of the mortgage
itself. To illustrate, if one's mortgage has five
years remaining, then the loan has to paid off
in that five years as well. Lalla also advised
that people not take loans with several different
financial organsations. If you bank at one insti-
tution, expenses can be consolidated into one
payment every month with a much lower rate
of interest, than having several payments to
make at different institutions at higher rates
Several institutions in the US will also loan
international students money to complete their
studies once the have a credit worthy co-
signor who is a US citizen. In Canada, there
are a number of government organisations
that provide loans, with low rates of interest
and generous repayment terms to interna-
Janice, who studied in the UK, told the Sun-
day BG that while the UK government provided
aid to EU students, other internationals were
largely left to fend for themselves.
"I think I was much better off than most
people I was studying with, because my
mother was able to give me that loan. I had
a little extra to play with," she said.
But what do you do when neither you nor
your relatives have home equity, insurance
or other financial assets that can secure them
a loan ? In this case, options would be limited
to receiving a scholarship.
In this venture, McLaren said research was
key. The de-centralised nature of the US
higher education system presents more oppor-
tunities, he said.
"What that means is that there is no one
place to access scholarships or financial aid.
That's why it's a research intensive project.
Scholarships are available for academic
achievement, athletic achievement. They are
available for need. They are even available for
things people wouldn't even, in fact, consid-
er."Early planning for children's education
One communications professional the Sun-
day BG spoke with said when each of her
two children was born she opened a "college"
fund. She said that over the course of the
next 18 to 20 years, small contributions to
the fund would allow her children to have
an overseas education, even in a low interest
She uses the services of a financial planner,
who advised her to "reassess the fund on a
periodic basis to ensure that total funding
stays ahead of increasing costs."
Financial aid, scholarships available
From Page 4
Early planning for
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