Scholarships and Loans for Pakistani Students

30th November 2015


Most young students aspire to gain the best possible higher education to secure a prosperous future. However, most Pakistani students lack the financial means to afford quality education. Therefore, it is essential for families to plan ahead and use a structured approach to finance the dream of higher education for their children. Families and students must remember and plan keeping the following steps in mind:

  1. Make a budget and find out exactly how much funds are required to finance higher education.
  2. Try to meet most of the financing needs from existing family assets and savings.
  3. If family resources are not enough, look for available scholarships. There are numerous local and international scholarships available for students who are looking to acquire higher education.
  4. If there is any further financial assistance required, the last resort should be student loans.

Details on different scholarship and student loan options are provided below:

Scholarship options

Scholarships are the most effective mode for financing higher education. Scholarships are granted based on merit, need and academic performance. However, due to their limited nature, only students with exceptional credentials are selected. Since a scholarship is a grant given by a university or organization, there is no pressure of future costs and repayments. Therefore it is advised that students should seek scholarships for higher education, especially in cases where the family is unable to support the cost. Some of the popular scholarships in Pakistan are provided by the following organizations:

  • USAID Projects: Scholarships for students seeking higher education in United States.
  • Fulbright Scholarship: Funding provided to students for Post Graduate degrees in U.S. with a pledge to return to Pakistan and work for three years in the local market.
  • Noon Foundation: Scholarships for students admitted into Oxford University Graduate and Post Graduate programs.
  • Agha Khan Foundation: Provides scholarships for Agha Khan students seeking higher education in U.S. and UK

Although these are just some local scholarship options for Pakistani students, it is essential that the desired colleges be approached for scholarships and funding as well. Most universities have independent scholarship programs for international students. These scholarships are also allotted based on need and merit.


Alternate to Scholarships: Student Loans

Although most scholarships are need or merit based, they are very few in numbers. In such instances, the option of student loans can be explored as a substitute for scholarships, and to cover for the remainder of the education expense. In Pakistan, student loans are offered by the following banks:

  • National Bank of Pakistan – NBP Student Loan Scheme
  • First Women Bank – Education Loan for Females
  • MCB Bank – Student Loan for LUMS applicants
  • HabibMetro Bank – Education Loan for Post Graduate Studies

Other than specific student loans, banks such as Silkbank, Faysal Bank Standard Chartered Bank offer personal loans up to Rs. 2,000,000 to individuals. Such loans can be availed for education purposes as well.

Students who are going abroad for education can also explore the option of securing education loans from foreign banks. Many foreign financial institutions provide education financing if the student can provide a local guarantor or co-signer in the desired country. This mitigates the risk for the bank, and can serve as a substitute for a scholarship.

If students are unable to secure scholarships or education loans from local banks, there are other creative options, such as collateral-based financing. Banks offer financing against gold deposits, property and savings certificates. This enables individuals to meet liquidity requirements for education, without having to deplete the family wealth and savings. Because collateral in the form of gold or property is pledged against the financing, the markup costs are also lower. This reduces the debt servicing cost for the family and the student as well.

Ideally, a student should be able to secure scholarships from local bodies or the desired university to finance educational expenses. However, the gap between the scholarship value and the actual cost of education can be bridged through student and personal loans.


By Saad Niaz


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