Looking for ways to finance your postgrad course? Here are 7 things about postgraduate finance that you won’t read in any official leaflets or application forms.
1. It’s All on You
Okay so this may sound obvious, but unlike your undergrad degree there are no certainties when it comes to government-funded tuition fee loans (well, not just yet anyway).
The distressing lack of Student Finance 'paydays' – always somehow arriving at that opportune moment when you realise you’re down to your last tin of Asda value beans and sausages – means it really is your responsibility to source, apply for and/or fork out for your postgraduate course fees. And we haven’t even mentioned the living costs yet.
2. Bye-Bye Disposable Income
If you’re coming back to education after being in gainful employment, you’re in for a MASSIVE shock to the system.
Maybe you’ve been living at home with the parents, maybe you’re used to getting monthly bonuses in your highflying sales job, maybe you still get pocket money – having cash to splash leads you merrily into naughty-but-actually-really-nice habits of regularly spending on little luxuries.
But on a student budget, these habits must be forcefully eradicated, because textbooks just LOVE disposable income. Seriously. They just gobble it up.
3. You Will Have to Work
If you’re not already working, it might be time to dig out your best 'I’m highly employable' suit and harass local shop owners until they give you some form of paid employment.
All those extra little outgoings add up so even if you’re lucky enough to have low living costs you’ll very likely need to be earning whilst studying. A steady part-time job that’s not too stressful can help balance your work schedule too.
We don’t recommend full-time work at the same time as doing a full-time postgrad course though, unless you want to spontaneously combust before your first set of exams are over.
4. Less Money = More Free Time
Here’s a lovely little positive note to keep all you future postgraduates reading this article about how little money postgraduate students have: The less cash in your pocket, the less inclined you are to go on shopping trips because it will only make you grumpy having to window-shop for all the nice things you can’t buy.
The same goes for – well, almost anything actually. If there’s an entrance fee, rule it out. Staying in is the new going out anyway! Who needs the real world when there’s such a thing as Netflix?
So now you don’t have to bother with that full and expensive social calendar, guess what you can do instead with all that spare time? Visit the library – it’s free! You can thank me later.
5. Please Sir, I Want Some More (Funding)
Get your word-hats on right now and start thinking of some extremely persuasive adjectives that will convince everyone exactly how important your contribution to the world of [insert obscure subject matter here] is.
This is especially applicable to research-based Masters and PhDs because you may have to get funding bodies to back your thesis proposal in order to be accepted onto the course, or at least to be able to get started on the work itself. This is the only time that thesaurus you were given in school will ever come in handy, so use it well.
6. Spreadsheets Can Be Fun
No has ever told you that before, right? Learn to start thinking ahead and you will be budgeting like a pro in no time – Excel is your new best friend.
Making a list of all your outgoings and working out the difference between that and what is actually going into your bank account is a crucial first step towards good money management skills, like sensible grown up people have.
After that, keep up to date records of your main sources of income and expenditure. Seeing it all on paper (computer screens work well too) will stop you from being able to lull yourself into a false sense of ‘I still have money in my account for these new clothes’ or ‘my student loan comes in tomorrow, it’s all fine’ and therefore stop you getting into more debt. See? So much fun!
7. There Will Be Sacrifices
I’m talking about that morning latte macchiato skinny goat’s milk frappe cappuccino that sets you back a couple of pounds a time – this and other treats that you really like, but don’t really need, will have to go.
Swap Waitrose for Lidl or Aldi to do your food shopping, replace fancy lunches with pack-ups and save up for things you want rather than buying them immediately. Etc. etc. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you start to love seeing those savings trickle in, and by the end of your postgrad course you’ll have basically become Smaug, hoarding precious pennies and rifling through reduced sections in supermarkets for unbeatable bargains. It’s not as grim as it sounds, honest.
Next Step: Find Out More about Postgrad Funding
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