So, now that you’ve got an idea of the main sources of Masters funding that are out there, it’s time to think about how to put together a funding package that works for you.
#1 Work out what your budget is
First of all, you should calculate what your budget is for the duration of your Masters course, including tuition fees and living costs. If your funding plans involve one of the UK’s postgraduate loans, they may well cover your tuition fees, but not your rent, food and other important costs. Knowing how much this funding gap is will help you target your search towards suitable potential sources of income.
It’s worth reading one of our blogs on this subject, which covered how to calculate the real cost of your Masters – and how to pay for it.
#2 Start as soon as you can
Applications for postgraduate loans typically open in June for courses beginning in autumn. The process is reasonably quick and simple (and can be completed online), as the loans aren’t means-tested. Plus you don’t need to have received a university offer before applying – you can simply nominate an eligible programme.
#3 There isn’t a separate maintenance element to the postgraduate loan (apart from Scotland)
As we’ve already covered, each UK nation has its own postgraduate student finance system. Unlike the undergraduate system you’re probably already familiar with, there isn’t a separate maintenance element if you’re applying for a Masters loan in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
In the case of Scotland, you’ll receive a £4,500 loan if you satisfy the eligibility requirements.
Welsh postgraduate funding works a little differently to the other UK nations in that it’s means-tested, with a maximum grant of £6,885 available to those on low incomes (alongside a loan of £11,480). If you have a household income of £59,200 or more, you’ll receive a £1,000 grant and a £17,025 loan.
#4 You can’t pick and choose which nation’s student finance system you use
Unfortunately, you can’t simply pick which loan system is most attractive to you – you are only eligible for the nation in which you’re ordinarily resident. So, if you went to university in England but want to study in Wales, you’d need to use the English Masters loan to do so (and not the Welsh postgraduate finance system).
#5 Don’t forget alumni discounts
Many universities offer discounts of 5% or 10% to graduates who are returning for a postgraduate degree, so it’s well worth bearing this mind if your alma mater offer a course that suits you and your aims.
#6 Keep an open mind
It’s always worth keeping an open mind when it comes to postgraduate funding – if you look hard enough, you’re bound to come across some unlikely sources of financial support. Charities, trusts and other organisations often offer help to needy postgraduates. Turn2us and the Grants Register are both good ways of tracking this support down.