Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cost of Education in the U.S.

Cost of studying in the US includes tuition fees and living costs. These can vary widely depending on the location. At an average, tuition fees can range from Rs.2.5 lakhs to Rs.20 lakhs depending on the institution, type and quality of program. Adding to the cost of the tuition fees is the cost of living which can amount to another Rs.4 lakhs depending again on the choice of place.

It is important to plan well ahead and calculate the cost at least 12 – 18 months before the program to ensure that everything is taken care of. It is also a great time to explore scholarships, US government assistance, grants from private and international organizations and loans offered on easy interest rates.

One important factor to remember is that students are only allowed 20 hours per week of work during first year of study and this can only take care of incidentals. This amount cannot be shown as income when applying for admission and visa. Since this kind of work as well as the pay attached to it is not dependable, this amount should not be included in the total income available for studying in the US

Visa & Immigration Center

International students require a visa to enter the USA and for students the category is F1. These visas are regulated by USCIS, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service and the whole process is rather complicated.
Some of the general requirements to enter USA are:
Health – While no special inoculations are required, unless you recently visited a country where there was an epidemic. HIV- positive people are not allowed entry into USA.
Law is important and criminal behavior can result in immediate deportation.
Proof of finance is a must

The three main student visa categories for USA are:

F1 Student Visa
The F1 Visa is the most popular/ common visa that is issued to incoming students into the USA. Generally it is issued to students who are coming to the USA to study on an academic program or to come to learn English as a Second Language.

J1 Student Visa
The J1 Visa is issued to students who need to have practical training as part of the academic program, however there is also a large program called the "Work/ Travel Program" under the J1 Visa where students can come to the USA for three to four months to gain employment and travel the USA.

M1 Student Visa
An M1 visa is issued to a student who is going to attend a non-academic or vocational school.

US Education System

The US educational system is totally different from India’s educational system. US has more than 3300 accredited colleges and universities.
The typical types of programs offered are:
Undergraduate Programs (Bachelors Degree)
First level of post secondary education after twelve years of primary and secondary schooling includes four years of education resulting in a bachelor’s degree. This is different from India where the bachelor’s program is for three years. Two year programs called Associate degrees are available for those who do not want to put in four years.
Graduate Programs (Master’s and Doctorate Degree)
Similar to post graduation programs in India, the duration is for a year and the minimum age for admission is 16 years which includes 12 years of primary and secondary schooling and four years of college education.

Types of Institutions
There is no central ministry and each institution determines its own program and has its own admission standards. There are several private and state funded colleges.
Universities include undergraduate colleges as well as graduate and professional schools.

Four year colleges are undergraduate institutions offering academic programs leading to a bachelor’s degree. Community colleges or junior colleges are undergraduate institutions offering upto two years of academic instruction beyond secondary school at a relatively low cost. These offer certificate programs that last for a few months to a year as well as associate degrees.

Institutes of technology or polytechnic institutes offer specialized programs in sciences and engineering, in addition to basic sciences, humanities and the social sciences, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
This is very important as it provides recognition for the concerned university or program for its performance and quality. This is normally conducted by non governmental agencies which are called accreditation bodies.
Fall Semester (September/October):
This is the main intake and almost all programs are offered at this times. More financial aid is also available for this semester and as funds are allocated for the entire year during this time.
Spring Semester (January/February):
This is the mid-year intake. There is limited financial assistance available for this semester as most universities allocate funds to projects in the Fall semester.

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