Hi guys! Happy New Month! How have you been? How did Q1 go? Did you smash all your goals? Did you make some progress? I hope you are not beating yourself up about weight you did not lose, or the opportunities you did not seize. There is no time to be sad o! Abeg, get up, gbera and keep it moving! Legggo!!!

I have been asked several times about my MBA experience, and although this blogpost is not about that (yet), it is about a topic that is just as important – how to pay school fees for graduate school! I don’t really believe in coincidences as I think all my steps are ordered by God and He already knows the end from the beginning. I had been nursing thoughts about writing this blogpost on my flight today, especially after I got a reminder email from someone who had asked for guidance on the topic. However, I knew I had to do it when I bumped into a friend who I had bonded with on this ‘looking for school fees’ matter back in 2015! 😊 We got into business school the same year – INSEAD and LBS – and we both had the same headache about funding. Almost 3 years down the line, we sat together on the plane and reminisced about how God saw us through that period and I took that as my cue to write. So, here we go!

Sister-Sister

A lot of people have given up on their graduate school dreams (or even avoided dreaming at all) because of this money matter. I understand how lofty some dreams can seem, especially when you convert all your life savings into USD and the number of zeros just reduces by half. But I have good news for you! I am yet to meet anyone who got admission into a good school and was unable to attend because of funding problems. This matter always resolves itself one way or the other, and I want to share with you some of the ways that The Able God can use to ensure your insufficient funds somehow become sufficient for this graduate school project.

There are 2 major ways through which you can raise school fees and living expenses – your money and other people’s money (OPM).  For self-funding (using your money), I think it is quite straightforward, this is a combination of your investments and any savings you have stashed away somewhere (hopefully not just under your mattress). The key thing about savings is making sure that you are saving in foreign currency too, so that you are protected from the ‘higi-haga’ of exchange rate ‘krinkum-krankum’. Side bar – where is Honorable Patrick these days? I miss him, lol.

Back to the matter. I recall that I started saving about 3 years before I finally went to school. Every month after I was paid my salary, I would ping my aboki, transfer Naira to him and then wait for him to pay the equivalent USD amount into my local domiciliary account. A good number of commercial banks offer domiciliary account services in the major currencies so go and get one open quickly. I started with $100, gradually increased it as my income increased, and kept the discipline until I had saved quite a decent amount. I told myself that even if I did not get admission, at least I would have saved up enough to buy a house, and having aggregated cash is just priceless. I honestly don’t know why I was saving in USD but when the devaluation hit in 2015, boy, was I thankful that I did!! If I had saved the same amount in Naira, it would have still been a lot of Naira but HALF of the USD that I needed to pay my fees. Sadly, abroad schools don’t collect Naira so I would have been on my own – thank God for the Holy Spirit that moves us to do things we might not even understand until we look back in retrospect.

Thank You Lord!!!

Depending on the school you go to, the labor laws in that country and the length of the program you are doing, you could also earn money from internships or part-time jobs. This extra cash can go a long way in paying your monthly bills and helping you flex small too. There is nothing like too much cash o! My French student visa did not allow me to work, but my friends in LBS could take on part-time jobs. All my LBS friends were what? BALLLLERSSSS!!! Hahahahaha.

Oh, by the way, I don’t know a lot of people who were able to afford their abroad school fees only from their savings and investments. Of course, people like that exist but I just don’t know a lot of them. So, since there are not many of us that can cut just one cheque to pay fees, let me move on swiftly to the other sources of funding that can help you bridge the gap.

I present to you – OPM. There are various flavors of OPM, from free money to educational loans from the government. The most important thing to note here is that no matter what you do, you must shoot your shot to get OPM.

Free OPM can come through scholarships, paid fellowships and gifts from benevolent friends and family members.

Scholarships/Fellowships: For this kind of OPM, you have to commit to doing the good work of research! You have to dig and seek until you find. From school websites, to websites of donor agencies, you have to keep looking. Set up ‘scholarship’ RSS alerts on select websites. This is one time when you cannot afford to find Whatsapp broadcasts too annoying, lol. Depending on the kind of groups you are on, you might receive lots of broadcasts about scholarship opportunities in New Zealand or Kuala Lumpur. Just explore! Don’t turn up your nose at anything o, there are only a few things sweeter than free money (e.g., puff-puff and golden-brown dodo).  

After you have done all your research and found some opportunities, you should now do the good work of writing winning applications. Brethren, there are no shortcuts here. You have to learn how to write a solid application OR pay for the services of someone to teach you how to write a good application and practice, practice and practice some more. The more applications you submit, the higher your chances of getting more scholarships. The more scholarships, the more money. The more money, the more balling. You see how this works? But you have to put in the work!

For benevolent family members or friends who will just dash you more, or rather, choose to invest in your career, you have to do the work of asking. Don’t let pride, fear of rejection or a silly sense of entitlement rob you of this blessing o! A closed mouth is a closed destiny, so you better open your mouth and ask. Put the word out there that you have gained admission and you are now looking for funding. When they ask, ‘how are you doing?’, you reply ‘Great! I am going to school and I am looking for funding’, lol. No matter the question, the answer is ‘I am going to school and I am currently looking for funding’. Hehehehe. Okay, don’t be obnoxious about it but also don’t be shy to ask for help. Even if they don’t have the cash, they may be able to connect you to opportunities you could not have discovered on your own.

I will like to sound a note of caution to people who feel entitled to their family member’s money. It is not your money, so you have no right to it. It is important that you ask in humility and show true appreciation when they do bless you, because they are not obligated to give you anything. We clear? Okay cool!

Soft loans: Sometimes, your friends and family might not be able to give you the full amount as a gift, but they might be able to offer it as a soft loan. They might also offer soft loans to you to ensure that you don’t squander the money they are investing in your career and they can get some Return on Investment (ROI). A soft loan is essentially a loan that has more lenient terms compared to regular bank loans. For example, if banks are offering loans at 20% and asking for immediate repayment, you could get a soft loan from a rich friend at 5% and ask to start repaying 3-6 months after graduation when you should have secured a job.

The important thing to note here is to not be entitled or get offended when someone decides to offer their support to you as a loan instead of as a gift. Again, remember, it is their money and they can administer it as they please. I remember applying for a soft loan from a family member of mine and with all the documentation I submitted, you would have thought I was applying for a loan from The Central Bank, lol. I wrote an application letter, humbly stated my preferred terms (interest rate, grace period and repayment period), explained how I thought I would be able to pay back within the timeframe and included a simple financial model showing the repayment schedule. I even went as far as assuring him that my total monthly loan repayments (including my other not-so-soft loans) would not surpass 30% of my monthly income, which is the general rule of thumb for payroll loans. I am sure he was impressed by the level of ‘professionalism’ of my application, and to the glory of God, he approved my application and gave me the funds. Halleluyah!! You know the best part, at the point of repayment, he waived the interest and only asked for the principal! I know God must have touched his heart, but I also know that if I had asked casually or flippantly, I might not have found favor in his sight, in the first place. So, shoot your shot but shoot it well! The God of favor will be with you! Amen!

Oh God of Favor, answer Your children!!!

Final category of OPM are the educational loans from certain institutions or governments, depending on the country of study. This is usually targeted at tuition paymemts. Sadly, the Nigerian government does not provide educational loans (yet) and it is suicidal to try to get a regular loan from a commercial bank to pay school fees. You won’t have even finished first semester before they start asking for loan repayment with exorbitant interest rates. Hian! Some countries offer student loans to international students, if the student has 1-2 guarantors who are citizens. In some other regions of the world, Prodigy Finance (which was set up by an INSEAD alum to provide affordable student loans to students from countries with no educational loans like Nigeria) is a viable option. I took a Prodigy loan at a great interest rate (less than half of commercial banks’ lending rates) and a 7-year repayment period starting 6 months post-graduation. I am still repaying monthly and every time I do that transfer, I just thank God again!

Again, you must do your research about what is available in the countries you are considering and find what works best for your personal situation. In all of this, you will need to keep looking to The Able & Willing God for favor, wisdom, discretion and direction.

In summary, I used a combination of the Prodigy loan and a soft loan to cover my tuition, while my savings and a small scholarship from a philanthropist’s family office helped cover my living expenses (rent, food, travel, transport, winter clothes, etc). You shaa won’t starve because you are trying to get an advanced degree.

I hope this has been helpful. Let me know if I missed out any other funding sources in the comments section. Remember, I don’t know anyone who got admission and was unable to go to school because of funding, so dream again, apply to schools and start doing your research. The world (and your school) is waiting for you! God is too good and faithful to leave you out in the cold.

Hugs,

Kemi

p.s – I am off to Jordan with Naija Nomads in a couple of weeks. I am still calm because work is plenty, lol but the ginger will soon fall on me. Watch out!

49 Comments

  1. Taiwo April 5, 2019 at 11:24 am

    “No matter the question, I am going to school and I am currently looking for funding’. LOL

    Thank you for sharing! Currently in this space, so this speaks to me. Other additional sources: Husband’s money and my inheritance. Just asked my Daddy to please give me my inheritance in advance. 😊.

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:04 pm

      Hahahahahahaha!!! So good to see you here, Taiwo!

      I love these your additional sources o! Lol.. But be careful, so Daddy does not completely ‘merove’ you from the whole inheritance for such prodigal behaviour, lol.

      God will always provide! Amen!

      Reply
  2. osarieme April 5, 2019 at 11:32 am

    Thank you so much Kemi for this. I have been so confused since yesterday i got mail of admission approval and wondering how to raise the funds. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:05 pm

      Wow! I am so glad that this came in good time! Heyy God, thank You for giving me the grace to obey and not procrastinate.

      All the best dear! I pray that everything works out in your favor in Jesus name. Send us a message when you resume in your school o.

      xoxo

      Reply
  3. Zee April 5, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Able God!!

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:06 pm

      Shower Your blessings!!!!!

      Reply
  4. Busayo Omoniyi April 5, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Ah this one is overloaded!!!

    Thanks a lot sweet aunt for sharing with us.

    Love you mama :*

    p.s You shall see me in your luggage on your way to jordan

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:07 pm

      Lol! You will see me too in your bank account – we will need the spending money, lol.

      Glad you found the post helpful!

      Reply
  5. Jojos Homemade April 5, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Kemolala,

    Such an insightful write up. Thanks for sharing .

    To say i started saving this year in FX. Don’t know why but i was convinced to start setting funds aside in fx this year. I intend to also invest it in Eurobonds mutual funds so it can be earning little interest .

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:11 pm

      JOjo!!! Great to see you here!

      Yayyyy to investing in FX! You will never look back, I promise. I think investing in the Eurobonds mutual funds is a GREAT idea, especially because our local dom accounts are non-interest yielding. Good move! I need to come for financial wisdom classes o!

      Reply
  6. Tobiloba April 5, 2019 at 11:58 am

    I think this is the nudge for me to go back to applying to schools, I stopped applying when I kept worrying about fees, but thanks for this especially your tip with asking for soft loans from family members.

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:12 pm

      Yesss!!!! Glad you are taking it as the nudge! This is applications season, so gbera and make it happen! I don’t want you to ever wonder what it would have been like.. Try and leave the rest to God!

      All the best, dear!

      Reply
  7. Simi April 5, 2019 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for this! Lessons learnt and notes taken 😊 but you said you never met anyone who got admitted and couldn’t go? Meet me, ‘I got admissions last year, about two and for dream courses. But I didn’t make it because of funding. Well, I’ll keep trying especially with these new tips. Inasmuch as family and friends are a major source, I never want to burden my parents (no external rich uncle anywhere for us really) they do so much already and I’m just one child of four. I didn’t even tell them about the admission, only told my dad months later and in passing, why? They’ll feel bad and start thinking of another way they couldn’t make it up to me. Well. It’s all fine now, thanks again for the tips. No matter how long it takes, hope I get another chance (deep down, I hope it doesn’t take so long though,lol

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:21 pm

      It will not take long in Jesus name!!! God is not a wicked God – remember this.

      Thank you for being so open and vulnerable about your experience. Now you know better and I pray that your next opportunity comes quickly and will go better than the last one.

      I know you don’t want to burden your parents – God bless your heart! I also pray that God blesses you so much that you will be able to start taking care of them real soon in Jesus name. Amen!

      xoxo

      Reply
  8. Yetunde April 5, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    Thank you so much Kemi for sharing .
    This was perfect timing for me . I’m currently at a point of self doubt . My account balance is in Negative but I have been optimistic that my plans of futher studies will materialise even if I didn’t know how .
    Your writeup has rekindle my hope and I feel like it’s the Holy spirit trying to reassure me that all will be well and that my dreams are valid .
    Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:13 pm

      This one has Holy Spirit involved o! Please take this as the sign you need to revive those dreams and start working towards them.

      All the best, dear!!!

      Reply
  9. Esther April 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing, I am not thinking of a post graduate now, thinking a PhD maybe in some years. But I will refer others to it once I see the opportunity. Do you know anything about fellowships?
    Thank you always!!! How are you doing dear? Still thought about you some days back, missed you!!!

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks dear! You are the kind of angel-friends we all need.. People who will look out for opportunities for us and refer us to the right resources. God bless you dear!!

      I dey o – working, working and working some more. But God remains faithful and He gives grace. We need to plan a link-up soon. Whatsapp?

      xoxo

      Reply
  10. Adenike Dada April 5, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you sooooo very much. God Bless You

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:15 pm

      You are most welcome!!! Amen! God bless you too!

      Reply
  11. Folasade April 5, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    This made so much sense! I always assumed your tuition was partly sponsored by your work place. The dollar savings is really non negotiable!

    God of Favour smile upon your daughter!

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:18 pm

      My sister, it was not o! This was because they only sponsor entry-level analysts and I was a manager when I decided to do the MBA. If you are not saving dollars, I don’t know o! May we not fetch water into a leaking bucket in Jesus name.

      Amen! God of Favor don smile already!!! Amen!!

      Reply
  12. EuniceA April 5, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    Wow! I’ll just copy this link and send to a number of people! Thanks for sharing. This is a real blessing.

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 5, 2019 at 6:18 pm

      Great! You are such a good friend – thank you for sharing!!! Glad it is a blessing to you, thank God!

      Reply
  13. Joys Alabi April 5, 2019 at 8:18 pm

    Wow! Thanks Kemi, this was really timely. I have been thinking about grad school a lot lately and even though I’m not ready to go now, I’ll start preparing my funds Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 9, 2019 at 2:06 pm

      Yaaay! Glad you found it helpful! All the best on your journey – never too early to start saving!

      Reply
  14. Loveline April 5, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Kemi thanks a lot for this as it is very timely! I just recently rekindled my desire for an abroad education and i find this write-up very useful.

    And yes meet me oooo, i once got an admission several years back but couldnt go as d scholarship i was banking on fell through…..and they were not even nice enough to refund my (non-refundable acceptance fee…..$1k at the time😓)…yea i know bt ayam ijebu like that😅😁😁😁.

    Keep soaring babez😘, cheers!!!

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 9, 2019 at 2:11 pm

      Hi Loveline – you are most welcome! Well, I have met you now but I will soon ‘un-meet’ you when you get the next admission and go!! Amen? Amen!!!

      xoxoxo

      Reply
  15. JBeautyFULL™️ April 6, 2019 at 12:22 am

    As always, interesting and insightful. Trust that it will come in handy to the needy in that area. Shine on Kemz!!! Blessings ALWAYZ🔹💙🔹

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 9, 2019 at 2:12 pm

      Yaaay – look who is here!!!! *dancing whatever the latest dance is these days*

      And it was GREAT to see you, Her Excellency StellNifer on Saturday!

      Reply
  16. Oluwakemi April 6, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Mama Kems! Thank you for sharing this.

    You’re indeed spirit-filled, as lately I’ve been dreaming of applying to the ‘ghen ghen’ business schools but once I get on their websites and see the tuition alone, I quickly close the tab and pray passively for help.

    I’m immensely glad that you didn’t withhold this knowledge – God bless you for it.

    Now it’s time to actively work towards achieving this. I hope to share my business school story with you soon!

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 9, 2019 at 2:13 pm

      Name-sake, I cannot wait for you to come and share your story with me! From your lips to God’s ears and back in your hands!!!!! Amen!

      Reply
  17. Iwari April 6, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    Great tips sis
    Please share your loan template with us, so we too can ask for OPM loan for further studies 🙂

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 9, 2019 at 2:14 pm

      Aburo, hola on Whatsapp!! See you there 🙂

      Reply
  18. Shola April 6, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    Omg ! Able God truly …. talk of the timing of this write up. I’ve had sleepless nights on this issue. Thanks kemi! its definitely provided some depth and clarity …but most especially HOPE! Thank you

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 9, 2019 at 2:18 pm

      Yesss!!! Hope is what we’ve got! I am expecting your WhatsApp message o!

      Reply
  19. Adeh April 6, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    Thanks a lot for this….not just school fees are my worries at the moment. Written gmat and gre tire…even applied to a number of schools and haven’t gotten a positive response from one…that’s obviously burnt application fees.
    So now I’m looking on the able God while waiting for the last school. The entire process is extremely demanding coupled with work and Lagos living, it makes me question my intelligence.

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 9, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      Hi Adeh,

      I am tired on your behalf too! Pele. I know how exhausting it was to do my GMAT twice and write applications, so I feel your pain. Pele dear!

      Btw, the GMAT is not a test of how smart you are but a test of how well you can write the GMAT. Simple! These standardized tests have tips and tricks and hacks and I encourage you to look online (search for GMAT forums, test forums, etc) to find more resources that can help. Please DO NOT question your intelligence o – this one is about strategy and tactics, not base IQ – you hear?

      It is a lot of work but it will be worth it in the end! Stay strong and keep your head up!

      Hugs!

      Reply
  20. Gerrard59 April 7, 2019 at 1:21 am

    Thanks for this article.

    I’ve always dreamt of studying in Japan and not long ago, I even contacted Prodigy Finance and was told that they don’t sponsor students to Japanese universities. However, your strategy of saving in dollars is excellent and I love it. I’ve got a close friend who got an admission into a top 50 institution in the US but funding stopped her from accepting the admission. I’ll forward this post to her.

    Additionally, the part where you mentioned writing applications cannot be overemphasised. To be honest, no be small thing. Applying for scholarships is like a job! Well, that’s the work one has to put in to use OPM.

    Once again, thank you and God bless.

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 9, 2019 at 4:44 pm

      You are most welcome!!! God bless you too and thank you for sharing with your friend – I hope she finds it useful.

      Japan is one of my favorite places and I can understand the dream of studying there. That place is BAE!

      God-speed and strength for applications. You are right – na WORK! Turns out there is no free money after all – we must work, even for OPM!

      Reply
  21. Matthew April 8, 2019 at 12:32 am

    please kindly advice. What do you think the chances of gaining an MBA Admission are for a Nigerian who did not graduate with a first class, but a second class upper degree, and a 710 GMAT Score?
    Are there people like that in Insead, and permit me to include Harvard?

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 9, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      Very possible!! Your academic history is only part of your application. You still need to demonstrate other leadership attributes, show how and why you need this MBA and what you will do with it, and so much more. Plus your GMAT is great – I did not even get 700 and we are here so please GO FOR IT!!

      Reply
      1. Matthew April 11, 2019 at 8:06 pm

        Thanks so much for your kind words…i’m really encouraged..God bless you plenty!!!

        Reply
  22. Lulu April 8, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Thank you for sharing! God bless you always

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 9, 2019 at 5:06 pm

      You are most welcome, again!!! God bless you too!

      Reply
  23. Omotayo April 9, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    I have 2 admissions I need to respond to by the end of April and I still wonder where I will get the money from. My savings is nothing in the grand scheme of things, I know my parents can’t afford all of it, neither are there any rich uncle, aunt or friend that can give me a soft loan.

    I started this application in faith and so, I trust the Able God. Thank you for this loaded post.

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author April 9, 2019 at 5:07 pm

      The Able God will come through for you- amen!!!! Praying for help and favor from uncommon places for you.

      Glad the post helped! All the best, Tayo!

      Reply
  24. Oseme Egbele May 31, 2019 at 10:35 am

    Aunty Kems, your write-ups are always inspirational. One major lesson I took away is that I can start saving in foreign currency. It never really clicked to me. I mean that’s an amazing idea. God bless you for always sharing. I actually got admission since March and I’ve not gotten myself to apply for my study permit cause I don’t want to bother my parents. International school fees are always so expensive but I know God will make a way. I found a plan B though so hopefully by His Grace, I’d be able to defer till next year and go to school then.

    Reply
    1. Kemi O - Site Author June 3, 2019 at 7:03 pm

      Hi Oseme,

      Yaay! Glad you got something actionable out of the post.

      Congrats on your admission! God will definitely make a way and you will testify! Remember me when you blow o!

      Hugs xoxo
      p.s – I started playing Travis Greene’s Made a Way as I typed this comment. This will be your testimony in Jesus name! Amen!

      Reply

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