How my daughter came to study in UK and it was cheaper than in USA (Part 1)

Last year, whilst on a vacation exploring England, we stayed near the University of Falmouth for a week. We drove past the university more than a few times and at one point I said “I bet it would be nice to go to college there”, not knowing that a year later my daughter would be studying for a degree in teaching at York St. John’s University in York England, and having a blast.

I need to mention that I am from the UK and have been living in the US for over twenty years. Both myself and my wife attended college in England so we have some experience of what it is like to live and study in the UK. This might have given me a little advantage on understanding the application process but it is certainly not out of the reach of anyone, and the colleges are really helpful as they deal with international students every day.

Returning back to US after our vacation, and with my daughter starting to look at US colleges I suggested that she should try applying to the UK if she wanted, but would also have to apply to US colleges at the same time as a backup. She jumped at the chance.

Why Study in the UK

With the price of college increasing every year and student debt now larger than Credit Card and Car loans standing at $1.5 trillion and way to alleviate the debt on both parents and child is welcome news, and perhaps going abroad to study might just be the ticket.

Let me also say that this may not be for everyone. If you are relying on Pell Grants or other forms low income aid, these are only available to students studying at a U.S. university. That said there is no harm in crunching the numbers to see how much cheaper it can be even if you have low income or no savings.

Here are a number of reasons you should consider studying in the UK:

  1. UK colleges have an impressive international reputation.
  2. Researching colleges is really easy (see Research section below).
  3. You will be in good company. If the 1.8 million full-time undergraduate students in the UK, over 100 thousand are international.
  4. Colleges are frequently inspected by the government to make sure they adhere to high standards of teaching, learning and research.
  5. Most undergraduate degrees, except Scotland, tend to be 3 years long, keeping costs down.
  6. Cultural diversity. From cosmopolitan cities’ such as London and Cardiff, to picturesque counties such as Yorkshire and Cornwall, the UK has it all.

Tuition fees in the UK can vary widely for international students, from £9,000 ($11,509) up to an eye watering £40,000 ($51,151) for medical degrees. While these number seem astronomical you have to consider that most the degrees in the UK are also typically only 3 years long, helping to reduce the overall financial cost. If you find a 4 year course it is, or was when I was at university, called a “Sandwich”, meaning that the 3rd year is a placement in industry, with the final 4th year back at college. The US university has what I call a “general education” freshman year that does not exist in a UK university. If you are going to university to study Chemical Engineering, you will be studying it from day one. If you have one of those kids who has no idea what they want to do then a UK university is probably not for you. For those kids who know what they want to study, and freshman year in a US college seems like an excuse to gouge more money out of you, then a UK college is definitely for you.

If you want to see some of the more affordable colleges in the UK then take a look at The Complete University, Guide Top 10 Most Affordable UK Universities for International Students 2018–19 (link).

Over the next few blog posts I will be providing more information on topic such as Loans, FAFSA and researching colleges.  It might seem like a lot of reading and a lot of work to make it happen but bear with me, it is worth the journey.



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