How much it costs South Africans to study at Harvard and other top US universities

A growing number of South African parents are looking at international education opportunities for their children, but it comes at a cost.

While some parents are no strangers to putting aside money for top private schools, costing over R250,000 per year, the leap to the annual price tag for tuition and living costs at the likes of Harvard is sizeable.

According to Rebecca Pretorius, country manager for global mentoring company Crimson Education, parents wanting to send their child overseas to study could fork out up to R1 million to cover annual tuition and living costs.

While the cost of studying abroad is steep, the long-term return on investment is high, with the average salary for Harvard graduates starting at R70,000 per month.

Competitive earning, job-security and powerful alumni networks make up for the hefty price-tag, she said.

“The Liberal Arts curriculums offered in the United States are good examples of how overseas qualifications meet the adaptability and critical thinking required in the workplace,” Pretorius said.

“Employers look for graduates with well-rounded knowledge that spans across a multitude of disciplines, top-ranked international universities offer exactly that.”

Pretorius said that the US is a favourable destination for international students as they can extend their student visa to work in the country for up to three years after graduation.

“Students with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) qualifications can further extend their visa beyond this,” she said.

“This enables graduates to make the most of the global business networks they are exposed to. Students with overseas qualifications show favourable skills to future employers such as cultural awareness, maturity, flexibility and independence.”

Cost of studying

“The cost of educating your child is a significant expense, irrespective of whether your child is attending a private school in South Africa already,” said Pretorius.

“Not all universities bare the same price tag, with some institutions costing only slightly more than what parents are paying currently.

“The key to success is preparation and planning. Parents should consider putting money aside through a specific education or investment plan early on, to make the expense of overseas education as manageable as possible.”

Below Crimson Education outlined the costs of studying at a top US university in 2019:

Quoted costs are estimates and do not include additional fees.

University Expected tuition  Full fees and board
Harvard University R247 000 R819 000
Duke University R93 000 R713 000
University of California, Berkley R259 000 R600 000
University of Texas R282 000 R511 000
University of Alabama R65 000 R407 000
University of Florida R225 000 R399 000

Read: South African private university group Stadio outlines plans for Multiversity as student numbers grow

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How much it costs South Africans to study at Harvard and other top US universities