You’ve heard of the bank of mom and dad, but parents struggling to pay for their children’s college education are having to go one step further – to their parents, the children’s grandparents; the bank of grandma and grandpa.

And it’s hardly surprising that these resources are being called upon, with the average cost of studying for four years at a public institution being just over $18,000 per year. At a private non-profit four-year school, it could be well over $40,000 per year, and those figures are without accommodation, food, resources and other expenses (social etc), which could add another $15-20,000.


This recent article from USA Today looks at some of the options available to grandparents that are able to help out. From making cash gifts to the parents to using a loan or by committing to pay down the loan, there are several different ways the bank of grandma and grandpa can pay out, if they so wish.

If you’re thinking that studying here is too expensive and are considering moving overseas, don’t necessarily think it’ll be any cheaper.

Over in the UK, tuition fees are always closely scrutinized, and further recent price rises have done nothing to quell that attention. International students (those outside the EU) always pay a premium to study there, and for them, the average annual cost per year of study is just over $30,000 according to a recent HSBC survey. The highest fees could see you paying over $62,000 per year – again, that’s without the living expenses. Once you’ve paid $19,500 for accommodation, $3,150 for food, $2,500 for travel and $2,100 for leisure, you don’t need me to tell you that that’s quite a hefty amount – and that’s just one year! (Although most undergraduate courses in the UK last three years, not four).

However, there are cheaper options. Germany has 7% of the world’s international students studying at its universities for as little as €2,000-3,000 ($2,770-4,150) a year, and in Norway no-one pays tuition fees, regardless of which country they’re from, just a small semester fee each term. And though the idea of studying in Russia may raise some eyebrows, it too offers a good quality education with lower costs than most other European countries.

If you do choose to head overseas – regardless of whether you’re getting help from the banks of mom or dad, or indeed grandma and grandpa – you could save money by getting your currency exchange right. Fluctuating exchange rates could make a real difference as to how much you’ll have to pay, so it makes sense to choose a currency exchange company that will get you a better exchange rate, so your money will go further. You could also fix an exchange rate in advance, so you’ll always know what you’ll pay, and if the exchange rate goes against you, you won’t lose out.

Click here to find out more about how you can save money when you make international payments to study overseas. 

David Trumper