Letters to the Editor

Here's what you need to know… Saving for that second degree?

Saving for that second degree? Here's what you need to know…

Sunday, June 17, 2018

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Twenty -eight-year-old Kimberley Williams completed a bachelor of science degree in management studies in 2011.

Since then she has been working at a government agency and has excelled in her job. She wants to advance, but believes she would have a better chance for promotion if she had a postgraduate degree.

To that end, she has been saving $20,000 a month for the past three years and has accrued approximately $720,000. But it's not enough. She knows she is ready to take the next step towards financing a second degree, but she is not sure how to get there.

“The first step is to determine your course of study,” Troy Bygrave, business relationship and sales manager at JN Bank, explained. “You need to know what you want to study, and do the research to determine where this course is available and what it costs today. Then project what it will cost when you will be ready, maybe in two or three years' time.”

Once that is done, it's time to start saving to meet the target. This involves pulling funds not only from one's salary, but other income sources as well, such as bonuses, the annual National Housing Trust refund, and gifts from parents.

And there will be sacrifices.

“You will need to make some sacrifices to achieve your goal to pursue graduate studies. If you love to party, you will have to minimise how much you spend in this area to ensure you maximise your savings. Cutting back on unnecessary spending is absolutely crucial,” he states.

Another sacrifice one could make is to live at home with parents until you complete graduate school. “However, if living at home isn't an option, consider sharing an apartment with a roommate so that your rental costs can be split in half,” says Bygrave.

In all of that, however, Bygrave advises that the actions must be taken long before one decides to enrol.

“You can't wait until you are ready to enroll and then start saving towards your tuition. It's wise to plan ahead. Start to save now and over the course of a few years. And, even if you plan to apply for a scholarship or grant, you must have a substantial sum saved to assist you along the way,” he notes.

Bygrave said this is critical because as tertiary education can be costly, especially at the postgraduate level.

Here are some examples of what a postgraduate degree programme could cost at two of the country's leading tertiary institutions.

• For the 2017-2018 academic year, the part-time Masters in Business Administration programme at The University of the West Indies, Mona, was $1,765,000; while an MA in Communication Studies or Marketing was $1,481,250.

• At the University of Technology, Jamaica, a Master of Science in Finance is US$13,280 or $1,660,000, while a Master in Dental Therapy is $1,585,600.

The figures do not include books, labs and other incidentals that can make up a significant portion of your educational costs.

“If you are employed you should determine how much of your income you will be able to save monthly towards furthering your education. Save as much as you can, as that will help you to arrive at your goal sooner,” he says.

“Your educational fund should be placed in a high -interest-yielding fixed deposit account which should be separate from your other savings accounts. It is also advisable to set up an automatic monthly transfer so that you are not tempted to use the cash for other purposes.”

“In addition, try to make 'top-ups' whenever possible. Therefore, any unexpected cash injections, such as monetary gifts, bonuses or NHT refunds, should go towards your education fund,” Bygrave informs.

The JN Bank sales manager points out further that young people should consider all their options when it comes to financing a second degree. “Therefore, ascertain whether the institution you want to attend offers a payment plan; work out what the instalments will be [and] how frequently you will need to make them. It may mean that you don't need to pay the entire tuition fee upfront,” he said.

And another option is to apply for an education loan from a financial institution. “The reality is that many of us will need assistance to acquire that second degree, and financial institutions offer low- interest education loans which require marginal collateral,” he advised.

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