University is expensive enough as it is, and that’s with student loans and tons of support, so how on earth do you pay for postgrad education? You worry you could be heaping more debt on top and wonder if it’s really worth it, or should you just go and get a job?
But the firm answer is yes. Postgraduate study can open doors to an exciting and fulfilling career. Plus, figures show those who study postgrad will add a whopping £200,000 extra to their lifetime earnings.
Thankfully, there is plenty of help available to help you to finance your studies.
Believe it or not, scholarships aren’t quite as rare as hen’s teeth and provided you meet certain criteria you could get several thousand pounds towards your study – certainly enough to make a serious dent in your tuition fees. Swansea University has more scholarships on offer than many other universities, with 100 worth £3,000 each available across all subjects. All you need is to be a UK/EU student and have, or expect to achieve, a 2:1 or higher.
Dr Jenny Clarke, from Swansea Uni, says: “We understand how worrying it can be for students who really want to study postgrad but don’t know how to pay for it, which is why we do everything we can to help them achieve their dreams.
“We have a generous scholarship programme which we want to use to help students and a comprehensive support network, offering them solid advice on all aspects of postgraduate study.”
“Oh no, not another student loan!” you’re probably thinking. But before you throw in the towel and start filling out job applications, consider it for a moment. You can apply for up to £10,280 for the 2017/2018 academic year from the government which may seem like a lot right now but given your extra earning potential with a postgrad qualification you could pay back relatively quickly.
Unlike an undergraduate student loan, it isn’t means tested. But just like an undergraduate loan you won’t have to pay it back until you’re earning over £21,000.
Professional and career development loan
Most postgrad degrees are covered by the government-backed loan but if, for whatever reason, you find you’re ineligible, it’s worth getting in touch with the Co-operative Bank and asking about a professional development loan.
Similar to a government loan, you can borrow between £300 and £10,000 to use on fees, study costs and living costs. You just have to show evidence of what you’re borrowing the money for.
The government pays the interest while you study and once you have finished, you repay the loan, which currently carries a fixed interest rate of 9.58% per annum, over one to five years.
Part-time study and part-time work
Doing your postgrad over two years instead of one and working part-time can be a great way of self-funding. And you get to build up valuable experience too if you can find a job related to your subject area.
The upside of this is you come away with less debt, the downside is you have less time to devote to your studies. You have to weigh up whether you can cope with a job on top of a masters and still come out with the qualifications you want.
Swansea University offers dozens of full-time and part-time postgrad courses.
Dr Clarke says: “Spreading your study over two years gives you more time to fulfil your course obligations and work alongside it without spreading yourself too thin. If you can land work related to your field of study, then even better. It will provide you with valuable work experience for your CV when the time does come to apply for jobs.”
Crowdfunding your masters
Yes, this really is a thing. Crowdfunding, if you don’t know what it is, basically involves eliciting a large number of small donations rather than a small number of large ones in exchange for non-monetary rewards.
It’s a bit of an unorthodox way of raising funds and there are no guarantees but if you can make a sufficiently compelling pitch you might just convince people you’re a worthy cause. Oxford student Emily Rose managed to raise more than £26,000 to fund her studies this way. Be prepared to put a lot of effort in though – crowdfunding is hard work and you need to make sure you come across well, create compelling rewards, and really give people a sense that they’re doing the right thing.
There are lots unusual charities out there who may even agree to sponsor you if you’re lucky. They are sometimes obscure or hard-to-find and you have to know how to approach them. The Alternative Guide Online helps you find sources of alternative funding and helps with your application.
The bank of mum and dad
If all else fails, there’s always mum and dad who might be willing to help you out. Chances are you won’t have to pay interest like you would a normal loan and your parents know they are helping you invest in a bright future.
For more information about postgraduate funding and courses at Swansea University visit www.swansea.ac.uk/postgraduate/fees-and-funding/.