The options for funding your studies when you’re working towards a postgraduate certificate can seem a lot more limited when it comes to other forms of postgraduate study, such as Masters and PhDs. There are still plenty of options out there though, you just might have to look a little harder.
We’re going to take a look at some of the ways that you might want to approach funding your studies, to help you pick the right one for you. Note that the new Postgraduate Loans backed by the government are not available for those studying for a Postgraduate Certificate - even if you later convert your certificate into a masters degree.
Ask the University for Help
Many universities and colleges offer tailored support, grants and bursaries for those studying for certificates. Some will be means tested, others will be merit tested, while others may even be first come first served.
It always pays to check the website of anywhere you intend to apply for to see what kind of help is on offer - speak to the admissions office to find out more about each grant, and whether you’d likely to be eligible. You may find that you’re only able to apply for some funding after you’ve started your course.
Speak with Your Employer
If you’re able to undertake a part-time certificate which helps with your career, then some employers may be willing to help. Your company may run a scheme to help with extra education, but even if it doesn’t, it’s worth speaking to your manager to see if there’s anything they can do.
You can also speak to the university or college to see if they have any links with companies who help provide financial support with training, or combine employment with education.
Charities and Organisations
There are plenty of organisations out there ready to help students facing financial difficulties. Although funding may be primarily aimed at PhD or research students, that's not to say it’s exclusively so.
Take a look at directories such as the Grants Register, Directory of Grant Making Trusts or the Charities Digest. Alternatively, try doing a Google search for the name of your course (or subject) with the word “funding”. Again, speak to the institution you want to apply to, as they should have a list of connected charities and organisations who can help.
Take out a PCDL (Professional and Career Development Loan)
While the Postgraduate Loan isn’t available for Certificate Students, you can still apply for a PCDL which is supplied by the Co-Op bank. To be eligible you need to demonstrate how your course is going to develop your career, with between £300 and £10,000 available. You can use the money to pay for your fees, with the loan covering 80% of fees if you’re in work, or 100% if you have been out of work for at least three months.
Better yet, the Co-Op will pay the fees directly to your institution so you don’t have to worry about that. This loan is great for students as the interest is paid until one month after your course is finished by the Skills Funding Agency. Once you’ve completed your course you can pay back the loan over one to five years, or if you prefer, pay it off in one big lump sum. A fixed APR of 9.9% applies, so you may find that once you’re in employment you can get a different loan with a more preferable rate to pay it off with.
Get a Part-Time Job
Think carefully about this one, but helping to fund your own studies can also be beneficial to your learning. Rather than looking for shop or bar work, consider office or temp work which matches your subject.
If you can, look for flexible contracts which allow you to drop back your hours if you need to, or ramp up the hours if you have a quiet week. Some jobs may even allow you to work from home, giving you the best flexibility to fit earning around your studies. If you’re not sure where to start, most universities have a careers or jobs department which can help students find employment.
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