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LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Value that degree


BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Value that degree

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Our National Hero, Errol Walton Barrow, understood that education is an essential human right. He made provision for ‘free’ education from primary through to tertiary level. However, more recent changes in Government policy have resulted in the introduction of university fees. Local university fees have been set at 20 per cent of the economic costs from the 2014 academic year. 
For those students who currently need to pursue another year or more in order to complete their university degree programme, this new cost is an unpleasant surprise and unexpected challenge to reaching their goal. They immediately have to face the threat to their educational commitment. This article considers approaches available to such students in overcoming this possible barrier.
Each student needs to value his/her university education while taking stock of his/her current financial condition. Do you have any assets that you can draw on? Is there part-time work that can help generate needed funds? Do your parents or other caring family member have financial resources with which they would be willing to assist? Is a student loan or loan from a bank or other financial institution accessible? 
Are any scholarships or grants available? Are there any opportunities to mobilise support through social media? Do you have any fundraising knowledge or experience that could serve this purpose? Would you be willing to band together with other students in order to mount a give-back or give-forward campaign among alumni?
The answer to such questions, plus rigorous brainstorming with other students, will likely provide some viable solutions. For example, with regards to assets, do you have possessions which you may sell to help raise all or part of the funds? Such assets as a vehicle, jewellery, digital equipment, or a collection of coins, books or movies can be sold. The sacrifice of parting with that asset now may be worth the valuable educational advancement you wish to attain. 
Given the rising level of unemployment, securing part-time or full-time work may be difficult, yet not impossible. You, the student, may have to identify how you can be of value to a person or an organisation for a fee.
Willingness of relatives or friends to extend loans or to stand security for loans may be more forthcoming, once you are willing to execute an enforceable agreement. The agreement would be to repay the loan and indemnify the lender or loan guarantor against any financial loss. Older relatives and friends, who may seem to you to be in a more financially secure position, are likely also considering the need to provide for their retirement. Once there is some guarantee that the funds will be recoverable, the conflict in the use of their funds at that time may be reduced.
Scholarships and grants are few and typically assessed on a competitive basis. Can you compete? Then, there is the possibility of establishing a fundraising website like www.youcaring.com.
What about an innovative approach in asking university alumni to “give back” to current students, or for students, once given assistance, agreeing to “give forward” by assisting future students in a similar way? Again, once this system is organised with enforceable contractual relationships, the likelihood of success is greater in raising funds. Social and new media can serve as an effective communication tool to reach the target communities, local and overseas.
Ultimately, it is up to each student to be optimistic, innovative and relentless in considering all the possible options in keeping on track with their educational goals.
• Louise Fairsave is a personal financial management adviser, providing practical advice on money and estate matters. Her advice is general in nature; readers should seek advice about their specific circumstances.

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