Studying abroad? Here’s how to pay your university fees

For many Aussies, studying abroad is a dream come true - a way to broaden your horizons, see more of the world and perhaps even find a new place to call home. 

But sending money overseas to pay for tuition fees and fund the whole uni exchange experience doesn’t come cheap. In fact, research from the World Bank found that sending money overseas costs more from Australia than any other wealthy country. The cost of money transfers from Australia are, on average, 13% higher than the UK and nearly 40% higher than the US. 

The good news is, there’s an easy way to cut down on those costs. Rather than going to your local bank, a smarter way to pay for overseas fees could be to use a specialist international money (IMT) service. 

How an IMT specialist can save you time and money

As specialists, IMT providers tend to offer more competitive exchange rates and lower fees for their service than banks. This essentially means that with a specialist provider, you’re receiving more foreign currency in exchange for the same amount of Aussie dollars. 

Meanwhile, if you stick with a bank for your IMT, you could expect to be hit three times with charges: a sending fee, then a receiving fee, and in transit, a poor exchange rate margin that could blow your budget. 

While this rate difference may not seem like much in one-off exchanges like buying a product from eBay, it matters a lot when you’re transferring tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a university degree. 

Let’s use a scenario to illustrate just how much money an IMT service could save you. Sarah is looking to do a four-year engineering degree in the US, and tuition fees are about USD$40,000 in total. With an IMT provider, she could expect to spend $1,087.60 less in AUD than if she made the transfer with one of the Big 4 Banks, as average specialist rates are 4.04% better value than average big bank rates.*

RELATED ARTICLE: Guide to IMT fees and charges 

What’s more, IMT services give you the option of setting up automated regular payments. That way, if a foreign university charges tuition fees every month or every semester or you’re paying student housing fees on a regular basis, you won’t have to go through the hassle of completing a transaction each time the payment date comes around. 

And if you’ve spotted a great exchange rate deal but you’re not ready to send money overseas yet - maybe you still have several months to go before your semester abroad officially begins - you’ll be able to arrange a forward contract with a specialist IMT provider. This is where for a fee, you can lock in an exchange rate but make the actual transfer later. 

How to set up your international money transfer today

So how do you actually do an IMT? The process might vary slightly from provider to provider, but in general, here are six steps that you could expect to follow: 

Step 1: Choose your IMT provider.

Look out for a deal that suits you, generally one with low fees and a good exchange rate to get more bang for your buck. 

Step 2: Set up an account with the IMT provider. 

This is usually a straightforward process, as most providers have an online application process. Before you apply, make sure to have your identification documents ready for the account verification process, including copies of your driver’s license or passport. 

While verification usually takes only a few hours, it’s a good idea to open your account well before you head off overseas, so that when the time comes for you to transfer money, you’ll be able to do so quickly. 

Step 3: Enter your recipient’s details

Once you’re ready to make a trade (transfer money), it’s time to login into your account and enter your recipient’s details, including:

  • Their full name and address as shown on the account
  • Their account number or IBAN (International Bank Account Number)
  • Their bank’s name, address and BIC/SWIFT code (unique identification code for a specific bank), which you can find on the bank’s website 

Your recipient will most likely be the university you’re attending. 

Step 4: Book the trade 

After entering your recipient’s information, the currency of their country should automatically appear in the form. If not, select the correct currency and choose the amount you’re transferring. 

You will then be given a quote price for the transfer, and if you’re happy with the price, you will need to move the correct amount of money into your IMT account.

Step 5: Transfer funds

Once the IMT provider has received the funds, they will send it electronically to your recipient. The time it takes for the funds to enter your recipient’s account will depend on the currency, but usually, it’s between 1-3 business days for major currencies like USD, GBP and EUROs. You and your recipient will be notified of the complete transfer. 

Step 6: Set up regular payments  

If you’re expected to make monthly or semesterly payments to the university, setting up regular transfers with your IMT provider could save you lots of time and stress in the long run!

Heading overseas soon for tertiary study? Then it’s time to find an IMT provider and make sure you’re all good to go with paying your tuition fees. Head over to our international money transfer comparison table to get started on finding a great offer today. 

*As of 11am, 20 August 2019.