Why The US? – Ben Yap (Princeton ’20)


Let’s face it, education in the US is not cheap at all. However, there are numerous ways to finance a US tertiary education. Some of the options include scholarships and financial aid from universities. Scholarships are mainly local and they are provided by, inter alia, Khazanah Nasional, JPA, and CIMB ASEAN. However, most of us are not aware of need-based and merit-based financial aids.

Ben Yap is a rising sophomore at Princeton and he intends to major in Computer Science. Ben had a very humble background: his father was a sole-breadwinner who works as a food vendor at a food court in Ipoh. There was no way that his parents were going to pay for his tertiary education but he has always wanted to study abroad, so Ben took up the Sime Darby scholarship after SPM and pursued A-Level at KYUEM.

Ben and his KYUEM schoolmate at Mather College, one of the six residential colleges at Princeton University!

Ben did not think much about studying in the US, but when his offer letter from Princeton came in, he knew that it was the right choice to make. However, Sime Darby did not agree on sponsoring him to the US, so Ben dropped the scholarship and looked into other options amidst the chaos of A-Level exams. He knew there was so much more that the US has to offer but he was uncertain of his intended major, which was a huge deterring factor for corporate companies when offering Malaysian students scholarships. Luckily, Princeton offers need-blind financial aid for any admitted students, irrespective of their nationalities.

Princeton gave Ben a very generous offer: Instead of having to pay $65,000 every academic year, he only had to pay $1000 in his first year, and $600 per annum in his subsequent years at Princeton. His financial aid covers his tuition, accommodation and dining meal plans. Princeton even provides Ben with $500 annually for his miscellaneous spendings. To fund his personal expenses, Ben works in Princeton’s dining hall in his freshman year. Although working at a dining hall might not sound glamorous, he got to meet many people from different backgrounds, classes and academic fields. He is also a guide at Princeton during summer, where he brings visitors around the university for tours.

Throughout his freshman year, Ben has studied a wide range of subjects including Spanish, Computer Science, and Cryptography. He is also part of Princeton’s Poker Club and the Institute for Chocolate Studies. He stays on campus over the summer to plan the Community Action Program which is part of Princeton’s orientation for incoming freshmen.

Through his involvement in the Community Action program, Ben got to participate in cool opportunities such as watching an alternative sentencing process in the Center for Court Innovation.

Ben will not be bonded to any company upon his graduation and he intends to seek for career opportunities in the US. This is the beauty of financial aid in the US; no other nation in this world offers such kind of scholastic opportunity. Ben’s journey to Princeton had not been easy at all, but he would tell you that every hardship he has encountered had taught him important life lessons. Despite attending one of the most prestigious universities in the world, he remains the cheekiest, coolest and funniest person you’ll ever meet.

“Follow me on Instagram @the.benyap.”

Ben Yap