How to financially plan your Master's degree

Molly Judgeon 23 February 2021
money coins

If you’re considering doing a Master’s, then you’re probably already asking yourself how you will afford it. Here’s how to make sure you’re financially ready.

As we all know, Master’s courses are hard work, but they’re highly rewarding and give you the opportunity to further study the subjects you love. Despite the fact that they’re pretty expensive, here’s our advice to help you financially plan for it. 

1. Take a student loan

From 1 August 2020, you can receive a loan of up to £11,222 from the UK government. This is a single loan, which differs from your undergrad student finance, for which you receive separate tuition and maintenance loans. If your Master’s course lasts a year, you’ll get it in thirds throughout the year (this is usually just before your tuition is owed so works out well). Given that Master’s courses generally cost between £8,000 and £11,000, this may mean that the loan covers tuition and not much more. Therefore, you’ll have to fund your own rent and living costs. 

2. Postpone your studies

While you can work part-time alongside your Master’s, you don’t want to burn out or for your studies to suffer as a consequence. 

If you don’t receive any financial support beyond the student loan, it’s worth considering postponing your course for a year or two so that you can earn and save up. This will make a huge difference in terms of stress and will likely enable you to do better and enjoy your course more in the long run.

3. Switch your accommodation

Just like your undergrad, accommodation is the second biggest cost that you’ll have to pay after tuition. Consider staying at home or with family or friends, who will charge you less or, if you’re lucky, let you stay for free! 

If this isn’t an option, it’s best to organise accommodation as early as possible to ensure that you find the cheapest option. Finally, contrary to common assumption, university student accommodation and private rentals in student villages are often very expensive. So it’s worth having a look at rental houses and flats in other areas. 

4. Look into grants, scholarships and bursaries

Pretty much all universities offer some form of grant or bursary, both of which are free money that you do not have to pay back. Grants are generally for students with academic prowess but many unis give grants to students who did well during their undergraduate degree and want to stay at that same institution for their postgrad. Bursaries are usually awarded to students who come from less privileged backgrounds, low income families or are the first member of their family to go to university. Have a look at your uni website and search for independent grant-making trusts and foundations. 

5. Find part-time work

It’s highly likely that you’ll have to work alongside your course. There are some things to consider when applying for jobs: does it offer hours outside of your course and is it flexible enough to adapt to your timetable that may change throughout the semesters? If you work better during the day, look for evening jobs. If your course requires a lot of computer time and solitary study, look for jobs that are more practical and people-oriented, like bar work (this may come as a ready break after a whole day in the library!). Finally, are there any jobs that would add to your CV and skills that could be helpful in the future? Once you’ve found a job that takes your fancy, check out how to achieve that elusive study-work balance

6. Get a student bank account

While you may plan perfectly, it may come to the point where you need to borrow money. Just like you may have had during your undergrad, most banks offer student accounts. The main benefit of this is that they include large, free overdrafts, and some even offer free railcards. Look into our top rated student bank accounts and find one that works for you.

7. Study abroad

This may seem a little extreme. However, the UK is expensive, both in terms of rent and especially tuition, so why not have a look at universities further afield? There are highly ranked institutions all over the world and most offer English-speaking courses. For example, in Scandinavia, tuition is often free, while Spanish, French and German universities charge nothing or a nominal amount. Want to know where to begin with studying your Master’s abroad? Check out Kiran’s tips for studying a Master’s in Germany

Now you know what it takes to finance your Master’s, make sure it’s the right decision for you with these dos and don’ts

Molly Judgeon 23 February 2021