Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Financing the higher education of a child or furthering your own development with a better degree is an expensive proposition for many middle-class or lower income Indian families.

This has become more evident in recent times, with cut-throat competition for the few seats on offer at publicly-funded colleges — particularly more established institutions — and skyrocketing fees at privately-run campuses.

Also, only the top-notch students bag annual salary packages that are larger than the total cost of their course when they graduate.

So paying for your education via a loan might not ensure the kind of returns you were hoping for, leaving you swamped in debt. But if you have the grit and the ability, you can mitigate the cost of education the tried-and-tested way: by studying or working hard.

This way, your merit could be recognised by your preferred college through the grant of a scholarship. For example, let’s assume you or your child secures a place in a prestigious college like the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

The tuition fee for the two-year post-graduate management programme works out to almost ₹16 lakh. Besides this, you’ll have to factor in additional expenses on a mandatory personal computer, course materials, boarding, travel and laundry.

What if you want to go to an IIM yourself to pursue a one-year post-graduate programme in management for executives?

Well, the all-inclusive cost works out to about ₹21.5 lakh, but the college has indicated it could go up further in future.

MBA made affordable

That’s a huge sum to repay for the average breadwinner. But one thing about the IIMs is that they don’t turn down capable students over financial inability.

So if your income is below ₹6 lakh per annum, there is a chance that the college will offer you an income-linked tuition fee waiver to help pursue your studies. But that’s not the only way to trim your course expenses once you beat the CAT.

For example, Korean industrial conglomerate Samsung has institutionalised a scholarship that covers roughly two-thirds of students’ tuition fees once they enter their second year.

Aditya Birla also offers a ₹1.25 lakh per annum scholarship to meritorious students in the IIMs, while OP Jindal Group offers a grant that is awarded on the basis of an online test and an interview.

All that hard work could save you a tidy sum through a scholarship.

If you’re more inclined towards engineering, you’d know that BTech students at IIT-Madras had to pay ₹52,877 toward tuition and other fees for just the July-November 2014 semester.

New students would also have refundable deposits and other costs to bear.

Again, besides financial aid, look out for scholarships such as those on offer by Shipping Corporation of India, which covers your full tuition and boarding fees; the ₹70,000 per year Nissan scholarship, or a smaller grant of ₹3,000 per month that’s offered by Indian Oil to engineering students who score more than 65 per cent in their qualifying examinations. You’re likely to attract a lower salary as a graduate from colleges that don’t fit into the same bracket as the IITs or IIMs. But the cost involved might not necessarily be lower.

For example, IIIT-Hyderabad charges entering students ₹90,000 for the first semester alone, exclusive of boarding, food and other charges.

Similarly, a two-year post-graduate programme in management from MDI, Gurgaon, will cost you ₹18.5 lakh.

Private medical colleges, in particular, are known to charge stiff fees from their students.

Don’t break the bank

In such situations, look to private scholarships such as the Sophia Merit Scholarship, which covers tuition, boarding and lodging costs for BE, BTech and MBBS students who secure admission to recognised institutions in the country.

Then there’s the ₹60,000 per annum Professor RP Anand scholarship offered to law and philosophy students to pursue their aspirations without breaking the bank.