Being an Indian student in the United States is a heady feeling. It unlocks doors to myriad opportunities, exposes children to varied cultures, and broadens their horizons. On the flip side, an Indian student in the US must face the headwinds of an adverse currency exchange rate, steeper costs of several services – and now, reduced part-time employment avenues due to the ongoing pandemic.
Your child may find it difficult initially to juggle funds to balance tuitions, living expenses and a vibrant social life that beckons them. A little bit of judicious planning, budgeting, and prioritising expenses can help them lead a comfortable student life in the US. Here is how you can help them manage their finances while they live out their student dream in the US.
Some universities may offer accommodation on campus at subsidised rates, but often students prefer to take up rooms on rent on a sharing basis with friends. University dormitories are an excellent option since students are usually not expected to pay for the upkeep of the rooms. Often, they do not have to bear the costs of utility bills for water, gas, and electricity. If they are taking up rental accommodation, it is better to live close to the university so that they can walk it down, or near a metro station or university shuttle bus.
It is better to get a thorough health check-up and all the recommended vaccinations before leaving India for further studies. This will help identify any niggling medical problems. Your child can carry sufficient stock of medicines to last them through a good part of the year, as over-the-counter medication is not as easily available in the US as in India.
Eating right and brushing and flossing regularly while abroad will make sure that visits to the dentist are reduced as well. Any other treatment needed can then be carried out when your child comes back home for the holidays. An eye check-up before flying out, an extra pair of spectacles, and a good stock of contact lenses will help them cut down on such expenses while in the US.
It is advisable to check on medical insurance that international students are required to have. Many universities offer their own medical insurance services. It is prudent to have your child consult the university’s international student services office to research the options and ensure that they can access a doctor when needed.
Food and essentials
Eating out regularly may not be a great option – neither financially nor for your child’s health. Cooking at home will help them save money, and satisfy that craving for Indian food, which can be expensive to satiate in the US! Staples like rice, pulses, and spices are now easily available in most Indian grocery stores across the US. It would be a good idea for your child to learn the basics of cooking before landing on US shores. They can carry kitchen essentials like a pressure cooker and a ‘tava’, which are not easily available in the US.
Haircare and basic beauty regimens can be taken care of with the help of hair trimmers and epilators rather than relying on professional services. For equipping their living spaces with furniture and gadgets, they could keep an eye on great deals that open on Black Friday, which can help them save significantly.
Your child’s Indian phone may work in the USA, but the data and call tariffs can be formidable. To enable your child to stay in touch frequently, it would be a good idea to scout around for a new SIM card in the US that has a phone plan with cheap international calling rates. Wi-Fi is enabled on most campuses, so your child can make video calls on Wi-Fi networks. Social networking sites like Facebook and Skype can enable good quality video calls over your child’s laptop.
Taking the subway or a bus to the university or to visit friends instead of relying on cab services will help your child save on costs. Travel passes and student identity cards allow concessions on travel. Indian students can also keep an eye on travel and airline websites to avail of deep discounts and get attractive deals. Booking inter-state travel in advance can also help reduce cost.
Despite optimal planning, however, an Indian student can sometimes feel a cash crunch when faced with unforeseen medical emergencies or unexpected academic expenses. As parents, you are their safety net. You can magically allay their worries with the help of Western Union, right from the comfort of your home.
While you keep impressing upon your children the need to stay within their budget when studying abroad, you can also assure them that they can always rely on you for meeting those unforeseen expenses. You, in turn, can rely on Western Union for fast .