Should I Apply For MS With GRE Waiver?

Around 35% of universities in the USA have given waivers for GRE

The GRE score is still one of the most important selection criteria considered by graduate admissions committees.

Why should I take the GRE test?

Colleges typically use the GRE (for STEM fields) to assess your quantitative ability.

  • Every applicant is evaluated holistically; your GRE scores, academic scores, internships, research papers, and projects are considered. But those who give GRE will have a clear advantage over those who don’t.
  • If your undergraduate GPA is lower than expected, your GRE test score is your chance to demonstrate quantitative skills beyond your transcript.

GRE is recommended as it is required for scholarships.

Though scholarships based on GRE, TOEFL, and IELTS exam scores are limited, you must score at least

  • 165 in both the quantitative and verbal sections of the GRE,
  • 4.5 in the writing skills section of the GRE, and
  • above 100 in the TOEFL and 7.5 in the IELTS to be eligible for one.

A good GRE score demonstrates your potential in analytical and critical thinking skills.

How do I decide whether to take the GRE?

If the website explicitly states that GRE scores are required, you must take the GRE.

If the university website mentions that it is recommended, it is advisable to take the GRE.

If the university you are applying to has stated on their websites that they have waived the GRE, you are not required to send your GRE score reports in your admissions packet. However, if your GRE score is more than 300, we still recommend that you send the GRE scores.

Education Loans: Everything you need to know

After applying successfully for the Fall 2023 intake of your dream American university, many of you might be busy planning to arrange the finances for the program, right? Applying for a student loan is one such popular option preferred by many students and their parents. However, it is necessary to have the right advice before making a choice. 

This article is aimed to give you a broad overview of the student loan process and will also answer many of your queries about the same. So, let’s get started! 

What is an education loan?

An education loan is funds borrowed from a bank or a financial institution to cover the cost of tuition fees, allied expenses such as living and insurance costs.

Who is eligible for an education loan?

The eligibility for availing loan is determined by each bank/ institution independently, and several variations can be seen in them. However, the common requirements are as below:

  • The applicant and co-applicant should be citizens of India over 18 years of age
  • The student should have secured a minimum of 50% marks in HSC, and a bachelor’s degree
  • The student should have a confirmed admission from an overseas university (if applicable)  
  • The co-applicant should have a regular source of income 

What is the maximum amount of loan one can avail of?

There is no straightforward answer to this question, as it depends on many factors. But, many institutions offer loans with no upper limit if the collateral is provided. In the case of unsecured loans, usually, the upper limit would be around 45 to 50 lakhs.   

What are the applicable interest rates on education loans?

Various institutions, including public and private sector banks, offer a range of choices to students aspiring for education loans. Most of these loan schemes have a floating rate of interest calculated based on the repo rate and a spread decided by the respective institution. The interest rates are generally seen to move from  9.55% to 13%.  In addition,  a few nationalized banks also offer a concession of 0.5% for women students. However, please note that every institution has a different schedule for revising the rates; , it is advised to consult the representatives of such organizations to find out the exact cost of the loan. 

What is the tenure of a student loan? 

Education loan is generally offered for a period ranging from 10 to 14 years. 

How much time is required for the processing of an education loan?

Under normal conditions, student loans are processed in 15 to 25 days.

How to repay an education loan?

The terms of repayment of an education loan vary from bank to bank, and it is difficult to generalize them. But, as a common practice, a grace period of 6 to 12 months is provided after completion of the program.        

Documents required for applying for an education loan:

  1. Duly filled application form
  2. Passport-sized photographs of the applicant and the co-applicant
  3. Photo ID: PAN/ Passport/ Driving License/ Aadhaar / Voter ID of the applicant and co-applicant
  4. Residence proof: Passport / Driving License/ Aadhaar / Voter ID of the applicant and co-applicant
  5. Academic documents:
  • HSC Mark sheet           
  • Mark sheet of subsequent years of graduation
  • Mark sheet of entrance exams like GRE, IELTS, TOEFL etc. 
  • Scholarship documents (if applicable) 
  1. Proof of admission: Printed admission letter from the college or university (if applicable) 
  2. Bank statements of co-applicant: Usually statements of the last 8 to 12 months 
  3. Income proof of co-applicant:
    • For a salaried person:
      • The last  three  salary slips
      • Form 16 of the last two years
    • For a self-employed person:
      • Income Tax returns of the last two years
      • Financial statements of the last two years certified by CA
      • Proof of office (Lease deed, a Title deed, Utility bill etc.) 
  4. Collateral documents:
    • Property title deed
    • 7 / 12 extracts in case of land
    • Registered sale agreement etc.

The list shown above is representative only. The requirements may vary depending on the financial institution under consideration. Thus, it is always better to cross-check the requirements from the authorized representative of the concerned organization.

Additional Information:

Can I apply for a loan even if my admission is yet to be confirmed? 

Fortunately, the answer to this question is yes! Almost all banks accept loan applications even if admission to a university still needs to be confirmed or is in process. In such a case, the application is assessed based on the overall student profile, including academic performance and other criteria, such as the credit profile of the co-applicant. The bank may also approve the loan by issuing a sanction letter with the condition that the admission must be confirmed before its disbursal. 

Is there any tax benefit on availing of student loans? 

Yes. Under section 80E of the Income Tax Act of India 1961, an individual can claim a tax deduction on the interest paid on such loans. The maximum deduction that one can obtain is Rs. 40,000.

What is acceptable as collateral?

Collateral acceptable is either a movable asset or an immovable property. Financial assets such as fixed deposits in the respective bank are acceptable in the former category. The latter category of immovable property includes a flat, a house or a plot of non-agriculture land.

I hope this clears most of your doubts about education loans. I wish you all the very best! 

Is This the Best Time to Pursue a Master’s Degree in the US?

With their impeccable quality of education, well-designed coursework and on-campus placement programs offered by the US universities, the US is one of the most sought destinations for higher education. Why US? (read blog). But the current uncertain economic scenario has posed many questions for these prospective graduate students, thus making it difficult for them to decide their future plans. Let us try to address these concerns:

Is the US on the verge of recession?

Recession alarms are being sounded in the US, predicting an economic downfall and, consequently, an increase in unemployment. According to statistical reports, in January 2022, the unemployment rate in America was 4%. which currently is 3.7%. In fact, it has been consistent in recent months, and the Fed is making efforts to ensure that it does not exceed 4%. More specifically, the tech unemployment rate is only 2.1%, indicating a continuous demand for technical skills. Technical jobs have always dominated the job market. So pursuing a graduate program to make yourself technically proficient will help you easily secure these job opportunities.

Layoff/Hiring freezes by tech giants:

This year has witnessed many layoffs and hiring freezes by companies like Facebook, Twitter etc., to implement cost-cutting. Marc Zuckerberg explained the reason for this extreme step in his message to the Meta employees. According to him, the online market had received a boost during the pandemic, and the surge was expected to continue. Consequently, huge investments were made; however, the returns were below expectations, thus resulting in economic losses. Moreover, various cost-cutting strategies implemented to combat these losses were inadequate, leading to downsizing and suspension of new hiring. Of course, the other companies could have a similar reasoning, but should this affect your decision to pursue a graduate program?

Even amidst these adverse circumstances, the available data shows that the aggregate demand for technical expertise is still strong enough to counterbalance the slowing economy. Nonetheless, this is the correct time to equip yourself with the latest skill set so you will have an edge over your peers when the scene changes.

Is there inflation in the US?

Post the 2008 recession, the US economy had revived within three years and continued performing well until the pandemic shook it again. However, it quickly revived within two years. But in mid-2021, the inflation rate started rising and was at its peak in June 2022, reaching 9.1%. As this was well above the targeted 2% inflation rate, the Fed is making desperate efforts to alleviate the inflation rate or ensure that it does not escalate. Interest rates have been increased to encourage the flow of capital, and manufacturing activities are being promoted. Consequently, the average annual inflation rate has stooped down to 7.7% in October, the lowest since Jan 2022. The recent data trends are definitely encouraging and indicate signs of improvement. (Optimistically, we believe it will soon change). More importantly, you will complete your program in 2 years, so making any hasty predictions about the future is not logically justified.

Now what?

So when this cloud of uncertainty is looming over our heads, how do we decide? As mentioned earlier, this would be the best time to pursue higher studies. On a more philosophical note, remember that change is the only thing constant in this universe. Indeed, we cannot predict the future, but we can prepare for it. One of the things that the pandemic has taught us is to be prepared for the unpredictable. Remember, amidst all these cyclical changes, highly skilled technical manpower will always be in demand. So, if your decisions are firm, take this calculated risk and pursue your dreams of studying in the US!

 As a trusted study abroad consultant for nearly three decades, Dilip Oak’s Academy will be with you through every step of your journey! Wishing you all the BEST!!!

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Having a tough time practicing SAT History passages? Here’s how we can help…

The SAT Reading section is something that stumps even the most diligent of students, especially students who have not studied in the American system. History passages are tough to crack, often featuring unfamiliar events and abstruse (difficult) language. As an Indian student, it is highly unlikely that you would be acquainted with momentous occasions in American history. In addition to that, the language can seem alien, especially if you don’t read widely. Hence, simply solving passages is not enough. You must dive – not deeply, but cursorily and swim widely – into the realm of US history. Having a general understanding of such events will enable you to grasp the context with ease. But where should you start? Which sources are the most reliable? Which content is the easiest to consume? Being mindful of the extremely hectic schedule that most students have to adhere to, we have compiled a list of the most important topics.

The Best Sources

Learning about US history has never been simpler (easier). No longer do you need to browse through numerous books – everything you need is in that wonderful rectangle in your pocket! There are several YouTube channels that fit the bill. However, there are two channels that stand out: Crash Course and Oversimplified. Crash Course has various series of videos that explain the most important parts of American history in a sequential way. On the other hand, Oversimplified has videos about individual events but they give the viewer a pretty thorough idea about each topic. So if you have a couple of months, we recommend that you watch these series in their entirety: Crash Course US History, Oversimplified – World Wars and Revolutions. If you’re short on time, watching the following videos will give you a basic idea that will be sufficient for the SATs.

These videos have not only easily accessible knowledge but also great language. So, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone. Additionally, they have great animations which make these videos a joy to watch. Have fun!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eytc9ZaNWyc&list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7ObzO7s&index=7
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EiSymRrKI4&list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7ObzO7s&index=8

Ace the SAT Reading with these websites

Most SAT passages are manageable; the language is modern and direct. However, we also have to tackle passages with pretty complex – at times downright convoluted – framing. In addition to this, most international students don’t have the same exposure to American history and literature that students from the USA have. Now, if you’re ambitious and determined, you may do the most logical thing: start reading content that will help you with such reading passages. But where should you begin? When you search for SAT reading sources, you get super long lists, which, frankly speaking, are overwhelming as well as unrealistic. You don’t have the time to read everything. In fact, many students simply give up on such passages due to frustration. But despair not, for there is another way. We’ve curated a list of the top five sources (topic-specific) for improving your reading for the SAT.

Science

Let’s start with the easiest. SAT passages based on science are the simplest to process. So, if you’re just starting out on your reading journey, begin here.

Easy-to-understand science articles

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine

https://www.scientificamerican.com/

Humanities

Passages based on psychology, economics, socio-cultural phenomena, etc., are simple enough to read but sometimes the ideas may be unfamiliar or complex. You can gain confidence regarding these themes by reading from the following sources.

https://www.aldaily.com/ This website gives you free access to thousands of articles. It’s a great resource to practice reading advanced language.

https://www.nytimes.com/ This is a great source for modern opinion pieces on a wide range of topics.

History

History passages are usually the most challenging as the context is unfamiliar and usually the language is difficult as some passages are extracts from texts written around 200 years ago. The easiest solution to this problem is to watch the Crash Course series on YouTube. Not only will this give you a great overview of history but it will also help you improve your language in general.

History explained in an engaging way with SAT vocabulary  

Crash Course US History

Crash Course World History

Watch this space for more tips!

Coming up…

Which historical incidents are a must-know for SAT?

Sources you should read for SAT Literature passages.

Application timeline for Spring 2023

Are you planning to go for MS in Spring 2023? 

The right time to apply for the spring semester is around June or mostly July, which means if you haven’t already started working on your applications, you need to start right now! 

We strongly recommend that you write the GRE and TOEFL before the 15th of July so you can submit all your online applications and courier the necessary documents before the 25th of July.

Of course, many universities accept applications even till the second week of August, but if you want admission to a good university, it is better to apply before July 2022. Submitting your application early will also help you to get your I-20 early and thus you will be able to apply for a visa by October or November, or at least in early December.

Therefore start preparing for GRE and TOEFL now and book your test date at the earliest.

At Dilip Oak’s Academy, we have begun enrollments for admission counseling for Spring 2023. Click here to enroll and get complete assistance in drafting your Statement of Purpose (SOP), transcripts, and recommendation letters, sending applications, university selection, visa documentation, and mock visa interview! 

For further details, contact us on 020-67444222 or email us at support@dilipoakacademy.com.

FAQs on F1 Visa appointments for Fall 2022

To help you get a fair idea of the current scenario regarding the F1 visa appointments, below are a few important and frequently asked questions and their responses as per the recent update from the US Embassy.

1) When will appointments for F1 visas begin for fall 2022 applicants?

F1 appointments for fresh applicants will most probably start from 17th May. Initially, they will open appointments till the end of June. This year, they will accommodate all the students intending to apply for an F1 visa for fall 2022. Therefore, students are requested to not panic and apply for the interview date only after they receive the I-20 from the desired university.  Also, we suggest that you take the visa appointment in Mumbai rather than in Delhi or Chennai.

2) If my visa was rejected the first time, when can I apply for the interview next?

They will most probably give a second chance to rejected applicants between 15th August to 1st September.

3) If I have any other US visa (B1/B2/H1/H4/L1/L2) which has expired, can I still get a drop box facility for an F1 visa?

Yes, you can, provided your visa expired not more than 4 years ago.

4) If I apply for the F1 visa through drop box, how long will it take to receive my passport?

You are likely to receive your passport within 7 working days.

5) Can I make changes to the already submitted DS-160?

Yes, you can make all the necessary corrections including the name of the university.

6) Do I need to show the same financial documents for the visa interview which I submitted during the application process?

 No, your documents cannot be the same. For visa interview, you mainly need to carry the latest documents including bank statement, fixed deposit receipts, loan sanction letter etc.

7) What are the vaccination requirements before landing in America?

As per the CDC regulation, you need to be double vaccinated and you are required to take the RT-PCR 24 hours before boarding the flight.

For further guidance related to :

  • filling the DS-160 form
  • payment of visa fees
  • scheduling/changing visa appointments
  • document verification

You can enroll for our visa counseling services and also avail of a mock visa interview appointment with Mr. Dilip Oak. To enroll, call us on 020-67444222 or email us at support@dilipoakacademy.com.

F1 visa interviews to begin mid-May

Most of you have received admits from the universities and are now in the crucial phase of visa application. Here is a quick look at the visa process, chronologically.

According to the recent update from the US Embassy in Delhi, visa interviews for students will begin in mid-May.

However, the embassy has also stated that Indian applicants are unlikely to get a second or third chance if the visa is not approved in the first interview. You are therefore requested to keep checking the website for visa dates and thoroughly prepare for the visa interview.

If thorough guidance related to :

  • filling the DS-160 form
  • payment of visa fees or
  • scheduling/changing visa appointments
  • document verification

you can also enroll for our visa counselling services and along with the above mentioned services, also avail of mock visa interview appointment with Mr. Dilip Oak. To enroll, call us on 020-67444222 or email us at support@dilipoakacademy.com.

US Student visa update 

Most of you have received admits from the universities and are now in the crucial phase of visa application. Here is a quick look at the visa process, chronologically.

  1. filling the DS-160 form
  2. paying the visa fees
  3. scheduling appointments for:
    a) submitting biometric data and documents at the Offsite Facilitation Centre and
    b) the Visa Interview

At the moment, many students are not able to get visa appointments and are confused as to how to proceed further. According to the recent update, the US Consulate has declared that students who have been previously issued any kind of US visa (B1/B2/L1/L2/H1-B/H4) can avail of the dropbox facility to expedite the process. 
The student has to login into his/her account on www.ustraveldocs.com, and answer a few questions to be eligible to avail of the dropbox facility. Following this, the student can directly book the OFC appointment. If the appointment goes well, the student will be directly issued the F1 visa within a week. 

If you have any queries related to:

  • filling the DS-160 form
  • payment of visa fees or
  • scheduling/changing visa appointments

these can be made at:

You can also contact us at the academy for any visa-related guidance and attend our LIVE visa workshop (webinar) by Mr.Dilip Oak on 17th April, 9 am to get in-depth assistance on the visa process. Register here: https://rzp.io/l/YoS0BjR3

US Student visa update 

Most of you have received admits from the universities and are now in the crucial phase of visa application. Here is a quick look at the visa process, chronologically.

  1. filling the DS-160 form
  2. paying the visa fees
  3. scheduling appointments for:
    a) submitting biometric data and documents at the Offsite Facilitation Centre and
    b) the Visa Interview

At the moment, many students are not able to get visa appointments and are confused as to how to proceed further. According to the recent update, the US Consulate has declared that students who have been previously issued any kind of US visa (B1/B2/L1/L2/H1-B/H4) can avail of the dropbox facility to expedite the process. 
The student has to login into his/her account on www.ustraveldocs.com, and answer a few questions to be eligible to avail of the dropbox facility. Following this, the student can directly book the OFC appointment. If the appointment goes well, the student will be directly issued the F1 visa within a week. 

If you have any queries related to:

  • filling the DS-160 form
  • payment of visa fees or
  • scheduling/changing visa appointments

these can be made at:

You can also contact us at the academy for any visa-related guidance and attend our LIVE visa workshop (webinar) by Mr.Dilip Oak on 17th April, 9 am to get in-depth assistance on the visa process. Register here: https://rzp.io/l/YoS0BjR3

Things to do before applying for a Ph.D. program in the USA 

Along with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a lot of international students are now pursuing Ph.Ds. at American universities because the programs are comprehensive and structured, and encourage a lot of independent research.  Apart from world-class facilities, well-equipped research labs, and qualified professors, American universities also offer funding opportunities to deserving candidates which makes it easier for international students to pursue Ph.D. in America. 

To pursue a Ph.D. program in any American university, students must have a minimum of 16 years of education, which means, they must have completed their bachelor’s degree at the least. Students can also apply for a combined program for MS and Ph.D. In order to qualify for a Ph.D. students should have a high score in the GRE (320+) and sometimes, in the subject GRE along with a GPA of 8.5 or above in their undergraduate program. If the master’s has been done from the USA, the GPA has to be 3.5 and above.

However, below are a few things you need to keep in mind and start preparing well in advance if you are planning to pursue a Ph.D. in a top American university: 

  • Choose your research topic well in advance: Narrowing down your research topic in advance will help you a great deal in making an informed decision. Study the topics, and see which topic would be viable for a Ph.D. project. Choose your program accordingly.
  • Research your Ph.D. guide: When it comes to a Ph.D., a good research guide is far more important than a good university. Hence, study the research work performed by professors from various universities, get in touch with them, and see if you can get approval from them for supervising your work. For Ph.D. programs, it is always beneficial to first narrow down the right research guide and then finalize the university.
  • Lookout for funding opportunities: Pursuing a Ph.D. in America can be very expensive and hence it is recommended to first look at universities that offer funding opportunities, scholarships, and research/ teaching assistantships and make your Ph.D. tuition affordable.
  • Finalize the universities: Once you decide your research topic, supervisor, and funding opportunities, shortlist your universities and start the application process.

F1 Visa: Top 13 Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1 What is an form I-20 and how do I obtain it?

The Form I-20 is an official US Government form, issued by a certified school, which a prospective non-immigrant student must have in order to get an F-1 or M-1 visa. Form I-20 acts as proof-of-acceptance and contains the information necessary to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, apply for a visa, or change visa status, and be admitted into the United States. The Form I-20 has the student’s SEVIS identification number, which starts with the letter N followed by 10 digits, on the top left-hand side.

Q.2 How early should I apply for my student (F1) visa?

You are encouraged to apply for your nonimmigrant student visa as soon as you have your I-20. To ensure you get an early and timely date you may apply at anytime. However, a student visa may be issued no more than 120 days prior to the start date mentioned on your I-20.

Q.3 I received my visa, when should I travel?

You may only enter the United States within 30 days of the beginning of the course of study stated on your I-20 form, regardless of when your visa was issued.

Q.4 What if I receive the I-20 form to a different school?

If you receive an I-20 form after scheduling your appointment, then you can inform the US consular officer of the new I-20 form at the time of the interview.

Q.5 I was working on an H-1B visa and have now been admitted to a university as an F-1. Do I need to return to my country to apply for a student visa?

No. Once you are in the United States, you do not need to apply for a new visa because the visa is only for entry into the United States. Check with USCIS to determine if you need to adjust the status of your existing visa. If you leave the country, however, you’ll need to apply for the student visa in order to re-enter the United States.

Q.6 What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) program requires schools and exchange programs to verify the enrolment status of all new and continuing foreign students and exchange visitors. Student visa applicants are required to pay a SEVIS fee before a visa can be issued. Applicants are then required to provide the SEVIS I-901 fee receipt as proof of payment. The SEVIS website has more details on this.

Q.7 Can an F-1 student work in the United States?

Full-time students on F visas may seek on-campus employment not to exceed 20 hours per week. After the first year in student status, an applicant may apply for employment off campus with authorization from USCIS.

Q.8 Can my dependents apply for a tourist visa instead of dependent visa if they only want to visit me and stay in U.S. for a short period of time?

Yes, they can apply for a Tourist visa.

Q.9 How do I read and understand my visa?

As soon as you receive your visa, check to make sure all your personal information printed on the visa is correct. If any of the information on your visa does not match the information in your passport, or is otherwise incorrect, please contact the issuing authority (i.e. the US Embassy) immediately.

The expiry date of your visa is the last day you may use the visa to enter the United States. It does not indicate how long you may stay in the United States. Your stay is determined by the Department of Homeland Security at your port of entry. As long as you comply with the Department of Homeland Security decision on the conditions of your stay, you should have no problem. Further information about interpreting your visa can be found at the Department of State’s Consular Affairs website.

Q.10 My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?

No. You may stay in the US for the period of time and conditions authorised by the Department of Homeland Security officer when you arrived in the US, which will be noted on the I-94, even if your visa expires during your stay.

Q.11 What address should I mention on Form DS-160, if my current home address and my address on the passport is not the same?

You must mention your current home address in India and not the address printed on your passport.

Q.12 What if I receive an I-20 from a better university after getting the F1 visa?

If you have obtained your visa and need to change the name of the university on your visa, you have to go through the complete process once again by scheduling a new appointment after paying the application fee and service charges.

Q.13 Is there a quota for the number of student visas issued each year?

No. All qualified students receive visas.

For detailed guidance, avail of our visa counselling services by attending our Visa workshop webinar on 27th February at 9:00 am. 

If you are not already an Admission Counselling student at the academy, register for the webinar here: https://rzp.io/l/YoS0BjR3

Once you pay and enroll, you will receive the zoom registration link shortly.