Real slog for an American degree

The ringgit has weakened considerably against the greenback and this has added a whole new dimension to Malaysian students aspiring to study in the United States. The Land of the Free has now become a costly option for tertiary education.

VENTURING out to a distant land in pursuit of a first degree is a lofty dream for most Malaysians.

And when it comes to acquiring a US degree, the trepidations have been more intense.

Since November last year, the ringgit has been sliding against the greenback, eventually reaching its weakest point at RM3.7333 on March 20.

Compare this – on the average, a four-year local degree costs about RM60,000 in total, against approximately US$124,000 (RM434,000) in the United States!

While the hopes of many Malaysian students is practically up in smoke, some can still count themselves fortunate – not without their parents making immense sacrifices, though.

Among the lucky ones is Chiang Pang Fei, 19, who has already been accepted by a US university for a Bachelor’s degree in the coming Fall intake.

His father Siau Poh, 53, has cut down on travelling and golfing while his mother, a housewife for the past 23 years, has taken up a job to help fund his tertiary education.

Siau Poh said the family has been cutting down on all things “unnecessary” including family vacations and eating out on weekends.

“We want to fulfil Pang Fei’s dream of studying abroad. I was worried that we couldn’t afford his tuition fees and living costs in the US, especially with news of the weakening ringgit,’’ he lamented.

Another parent, who wished to be known as Raj, 51, said he had wanted his daughter to pursue an American degree programe fully at one of the local colleges here.


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