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  • Budget estimate for graduate school applications

    Are you planning to apply to MS/PhD Programs in the USA? Let me put together a budget estimate (an approximate total cost) for you (everything from tests to application fees). Hopefully, this helps your plan.Case scenario

    As you go this week, I implore to read and store this thread somewhere. I will be talking about:

    1. The Application Materials
    2. Cost implications
    3. How You can Slash this Budget by 50% or down to near $0. 

    To ensure that people from different countries benefit immensely, I will be using the USA Dollar $ for my analysis.

    The catch is that even if I use local currencies, you still need to pay in USD so let us just use that. Feel free to convert at your end eventually.  Another thing is that this total sum is not “cast in stone”, “compulsory”, “mandatory”. When you factor in fee waivers and some funding opportunities (that can cater for a host of these fees), the total budget cost can be greatly reduced. This is just an approximate amount. 

    I do not want to mislead anybody or be misquoted so please be informed that I will be looking at the worst case scenario.

    This means the total amount (with no application fee waiver or opportunity funds in view) i.e, you are paying entirely from pocket.

    Let us get on with it. 

    Application Materials

    To start with, let me quickly list all the fees and documents you will be required to provide. From that list, we can extract the ones which are capital intensive. This should allow us reliably place a figure to it.

    P.S: Do not let the fees scare you. It is achievable. 

    Let us curate some information from the @UAGradSchool.

    For MS/PhD applicants:

    1. An online application form
    2. Application fee payment
    3. Statement of purpose
    4. Unofficial admission scores (GRE, GMAT, MAT or MCAT; if required by the department)
    5. Unofficial transcripts

    6. Letters of Recommendation
    7. Language Scores (non-native speakers).

    That being said, let us look at some cost estimates.

    NB: My fundamental assumption is that you are applying to Four (4) schools in the USA during one cycle. I am making this assumption conservatively.  Let’s talk Numbers 💰💳💵

    Application Fees

    Line Item Number 1: Online application form

    Estimated Cost = $0

    Line Item Number 2: Application fee payment

    For US schools, the fees range between $30 - $105. Let us say that the fee is usually $80 on average. See: How to request for graduate school application fee waivers

    Estimated Cost = $80
    For 4 schools, the estimate = $320

    Line Item Number 3: Statement of purpose

    Estimated Cost = $0

    Line Item Number 4: Admission Test scores (GRE, GMAT, MAT or MCAT)

    NB: For rest takers outside the USA, cost of GRE = $226 (🇳🇬 for example) cost of GMAT = $250 (🇳🇬 for example)

    The GRE allows you send your score report to up to 4 schools as at the time you are writing the exam. If you take this option, you have no additional costs however, if you do not, you will need to pay additional $27 per recipient. This translates to an additional $108 per applicant to 4 schools.

    Regarding the GMAT, you are allowed to send up to 5 free score reports to your schools but, if you decide to send it later on, you will need to pay additional $35. This translates to an additional $140 per applicant to 4 schools.

    In summary, for Line Number 4.

    For 4 schools:

    A. If you take the GRE and send your scores at time of exam = $226

    If you send score reports later, the cost becomes = $226 + $108 = $334 

    For 4 schools:

    B. If you take the GMAT and send your scores at time of exam = $250

    If you send score reports later, the cost becomes = $250 + $140 = $390. 

    Line Number 5: Unofficial Transcript

    To get this document sent to you within Nigeria, I do not have the current pricing range for Transcript Processing. I hear you may need somewhere between N3,000 and N12,000 but, I do not know the exact amount. I will leave this out. 

    Line Number 6: Letters of Recommendation

    This can be predominantly done online hence, estimated cost = $0

    How to obtain Effective Letters of Recommendation

    Line Number 7: TOEFL Test

    The fee for TOEFL test varies by location however, for 🇳🇬, it is pegged at $195. Also, TOEFL allows you send score reports as at the time of taking the exam. If you choose to do it much later, the cost of each score report ($20), for 4 schools = $80

    For 4 schools:

    If you take the TOEFL and send your scores at time of exam = $195

    If you send score reports later, the cost becomes = $195 + $80 = $275. 

    These are the estimates (excluding the fees for obtaining your transcript).

    For GRE-centric applicants to 4 USA Schools:

    Total Estimate (Exckuding Transcripts) = $741
    • Cost of 4 Additional GRE Score Reports = $108
    • Cost of 4 Additional TOEFL Score Reports = $80 

    For GMAT-centric applicants to 4 USA Schools:

    Total Estimate (Exckuding Transcripts) = $765
    • Cost of 4 Additional GMAT Score Reports = $140
    • Cost of 4 Additional TOEFL Score Reports = $80 

    How you can prune application fees down

    Now, we have the estimates, let us talk about how you can prune this fees down. For the Application fees, I suggest you consider Application fee waivers. I have treated this earlier: How to request for graduate school application fee waivers

    Do you know that there are programs/opportunities that helps you finance all the cost of the application process, including fees for your TOEFL/GRE exams?

    You should apply for the @educationusa Opportunity Funds Program (OFP).

    See details: How To Apply To The EducationUSA Opportunity Funds Program (OFP)

    With that being said, I hope everything goes well with your plans.

    Goodluck.

    Author

    Updated on 3:37-am May 20,2020


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