If you are considering making an application for a course of postgraduate study, then there are many different funding options to take into consideration. While some students are fortunate enough to receive scholarships and bursaries (or to have their costs covered by generous family members) most postgraduate candidates will have to fund their own studies.
One of the most popular options for postgraduate students is to take out a Professional/Career Development loan, which is a bank loan specifically tailored to meeting the educational and maintenance costs of those wishing to pursue a further course of study.
How Do Career Development Loans Work?
There are two banks that offer the Career Development Loan to date: Co-operative and Barclays bank. With loans of this kind, you will be able to borrow a maximum of £10,000 of funding to contribute towards your postgraduate education.
During your studies and for the first month after graduation, you will not have to pay the 9.9% APR rate on your loan. However, after this period of grace, then you will have to repay the loan over a period previously agreed with the bank in question
What Courses is the Loan For?
The Career Development Loan is for any course that will help you to further your professional career including qualifications such as Master’s degrees, Postgraduate diplomas or even managerial training. However, as long as it is potentially career enhancing, it's not compulsory for the course to lead directly on to a qualification.
Loans will not be offered to help with the costs covered by other sources of public funding such as undergraduate degree programmes (covered by Student Finance) or postgraduate courses such as PGCEs where some course fees are partially subsidised by grants or bursaries. In these cases, the Careers Development loan will only cover the costs that are not covered by subsidised funding.
How Much Can I Borrow?
How much you are entitled to borrow will very much depend upon your course fees, your personal circumstances and your living costs.
When you make your application for a loan you may also have to outline how much your course fees will cost, and how much your living fees will amount to (as well as providing documentation proving your identity). The Careers Development Loan will only cover 80% of your tuition fees, but will also cover costs of living – so make sure you outline this when filling in your form.
Am I Eligible for the Loan?
Your application for the loan will be considered providing that you meet the following criteria
However, just because the bank is willing to consider your application, this doesn’t immediately guarantee that they will allow you to take out the loan. A bad credit rating and other external factors may have a significant impact upon your application.
What If I Don’t Complete My Course?
The bank’s concern is not whether or not you pass the course. Even if you fail, or you are unable to complete the programme of study, you will still be expected to meet the agreed repayments.
What Documentation Will I Need to Provide?
When making your application, you will be expected to provide a number of documents that verify your identity. These may include copies of your rent agreement, an acceptance letter from the University, bank statements and/or utility bills.
You will need to take these documents into your local branch of the bank you are applying to for the loan and get each document verified by an official.
If you are applying for a loan to cover your living costs during your course, then you should also provide a broken down estimate of how much you will need to survive financially while you study. This should include food costs, rental costs, travel costs and the cost of materials for your course.
When Should I Apply?
Your application will only be considered once you have a place on your chosen programme of study. You should apply no more than three months before the start date of your course, but you should apply as soon as possible to give the bank time to process your loan request.
You can get a copy of the application pack by contacting the National Careers Service.
Next Step: Learn more about postgraduate funding
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