I am from India and currently enrolled in a graduated program at NYU. I have an older brother who came to the United States 15 years ago to pursue his higher studies and since then it was my dream too to study in the US.
After completing my undergrad, I worked for few years. I knew someday I would be coming to the US and pursue my masters. I planned to take an education loan and use some of my savings. I had worked out a plan for myself and things went pretty much as per plan! Since I had work experience, I initially planned to do an MBA and applied to few universities. As I deep dived in researching about schools and graduate programs offered, I came across MS programs that almost had all of the MBA courses yet they were under the STEM category. This is when I decided to choose MS over MBA. This immediately brought down my total expenditure on higher studies, as MBA costs much more than an MS degree.
The point I am trying make here is, it always helps to start early and explore various options, processes, find out more information through known sources etc.
The journey wasn't easy for me though, there were too many procedures to complete, each of them were time consuming and was a very stressful time. Application for loan was a lengthy process with too many limitations. There was a lot paper work, it was not only elaborate, but also time-consuming and at times the details & documents collected by the bank felt irrelevant. I decided to go with the flow and follow the bank's procedure with patience and finally got my job done!
Learning & Reflection points
1. It was great to have family support as my parents had experience in applying for loans in the past. So when in doubt, always ask someone who knows!
2. Start early. Applying early not only gives you buffer time to handle delays, sometimes colleges provide higher amounts of scholarship for students who apply in the first round of admissions.
3. Start early again to learn and research more about available options that can possibly bring your expenses down and fulfill your academic requirements.