Up until you get to uni to get your undergraduate degree, things are pretty straightforward: you finish school, you apply to uni, and you don't worry too much about paying, because mum and dad have put some money aside for that, and you can also get student loans and maintenance loans to help out with that. Plus, you're 18 and you're not yet fully aware of what that means, and all your friends are in debt, too.
By the time you finish, you start thinking about postgraduate study, but the money has run out and now you need to figure finance out on your own if you want to further your education. Here is your guide to postgraduate finance.
Postgraduate Master's Loans
Thankfully, in the meantime, as of 2015/2016, Postgraduate Master's Loans have become available, and they now represent the easiest, most accessible, and most convenient way to fund your Master's degree. The application is extremely similar to the Undergraduate one, and you can get up to £10,609 to put towards living costs and tuition. You can also borrow less, if you don't need the full amount, or if you have alternative funding options that you are using. The amount you are offered is not based on your income or your parents' income. Check the GOV.uk website for more information.
Postgraduate Doctoral Loans
And even more recently, after years where an aspiring Ph.D. student struggled to find financing, Postgraduate Doctoral Loans are now available. The first generation who can benefit from them are students starting their degree on 1 August 2018. Postgraduate Doctoral Loans have a limit of £25,000 and, like Postgraduate Master's Loans, they are meant to be put towards tuition costs and living costs. Like the Master's Loan, this is also paid directly to the student and is not dependent on their on their parents' income.
If going further into debt doesn't sound attractive, or it's not enough to cover all of your costs, a very good option is to seek a degree funded by your current or future employer. It is very common nowadays for an employer to support the education of young talent and act as a sponsor of sorts, in order to help develop their knowledge and skills, in exchange for a contract at their company either during their studies or after they finish. It is an extraordinary opportunity for an employer to recognize talent, ability and potential in a student, and it's a pretty win-win situation: the student gets a free ride and a secured job at the end of their studies, and the employer ensures that they have a talented employee with the skills they are seeking.
Studentships are also very financially convenient, because they are essentially postgraduate positions where you are paid to do research. You can receive money for living costs or tuition fees, or even both. Research Councils UK is in charge of funding.
Charities & Trusts
Trusts and charities often recognize academic excellence in students who have either distinguished themselves or come from disadvantaged backgrounds and could greatly benefit from grants. Information is available in the Grants Register, the Educational Grants Directory, the Directory of Grant Making Trusts, or the Charities Digest.
Training & Courses
Funding is also available for healthcare course, medical courses, social work courses, or teacher training:
- Student loans for healthcare and medical courses
- NHS bursaries for healthcare and medical courses
- Initial Teacher Training
- Social work bursaries for social work
Postdoctoral and postgraduate research can be funded by certain societies:
Science Postdoctorate: the Royal Society
Engineering: the Royal Academy of Engineering
- Social Sciences and Humanties Postdoctorate: the British Academy
Of course, your family is always still an option if they can afford it and you are willing to accept their help. If they planned past undergraduate level, there is no reason why you should not be able to enjoy an extended academic experience.
As you can see, there are now numerous options for postgraduate finance, thanks to the rising level of students who wish to pursue further academic excellence. Postgraduate loans are the easiest and probably most common funding option, but if debt scares you or you need more money, other funding opportunities are available, depending on what you are planning to study and what you are looking for. You may just be lucky enough to get a free ride!