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Explaining the Master’s loan

When I was deciding whether or not I was going to study for a postgraduate degree, finances were my main concern.

I am not going to lie to you, doing a masters is expensive, and keeping an eye on your budget is essential!

A common misconception about Masters degrees is that you won’t receive any financial help, this is incorrect. Providing that you fit the eligibility criteria, you will be able to apply for a post-graduate loan. However, this loan differs quite significantly from the loan you may have received when studying for your undergraduate degree.

How does the PG loan work?

  1. You can apply for a maximum of £10,906 (this may change dependent on when your course will begin, as it tends to increase in line with inflation).
  2. Unlike an undergraduate loan, it is not means-tested. Everyone, regardless of their parental income, can apply and are likely to receive the maximum loan amount.
  3. The money is paid directly to you, and it’s your responsibility to pay your rent, your tuition fees, and any other expenses you might have.
  4. You will be paid in three instalments.
  5. If your course is longer than one year, the loan will be split proportionally across each year of your degree.

Scholarships and alumni discounts

Some universities may offer scholarships for students that are academically gifted, or for those who are great sportsmen/sportswomen. It may be worth looking at the opportunities for scholarships before deciding on a university to attend.

Similarly, Lincoln offers an alumni discount on their postgraduate courses. Students whom attended the University of Lincoln for their undergraduate degree are entitled to a discount in tuition fees. The price of tuition fees varies course by course, but this information can be found here. For me, the alumni discount helped to confirm my decision to study for a masters degree. Without which, it would have been unlikely I would have been able to afford it, so it’s definitely worthwhile factoring this into your financial calculations!

Finding somewhere to live

As a postgraduate student you may choose to live in halls, or you may choose to live in a house rented by an agency or a private landlord. When looking for somewhere to live you need to factor in whether or not all bills are included. You should also consider laundry, which seems like a rather futile point, but it can really add to your outgoing expenses. In the majority of halls, you will have to pay to use the launderette service, whereas in a house you’re likely to have your own washing machine.

Remember, you will have to pay for your rent with your loan – so if you don’t have enough money, you’ll have to find the money elsewhere (or find somewhere cheaper to live!)

Effective budgeting

To complete a masters degree, you will need to learn how to budget. It’s your responsibility to pay your tuition fees, so you need to make sure you have enough money put aside to do just this. For many people, studying for a postgraduate degree means they have very little disposable income, so it’s very important to keep a close eye on your spending. Here are a few ways you can manage your budget effectively:

  1. At the start of each week, create a meal plan of what you’ll be eating throughout that week. By doing this you won’t have the “we have nothing in the fridge” excuse; hopefully you’ll be able to resist the urge of ordering a takeaway.
  2. Make packed lunches to take to uni with you, a £3 meal deal doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you buy one 5 days a week this adds up to £780 a year!
  3. Don’t feel like you can’t go out and enjoy yourself. Loads of restaurants and visitor attractions offer student discounts, so do your research and make the most out of the privilege of still being a student!

Before you apply for a postgraduate degree, work out if you can afford it; work out if you’ll need to get a part-time job; see if you can save money in areas of your everyday life. Good luck with the application process, and if you do have any other budgeting tips please leave them in the comments below!

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