How to fund your postgraduate studies?

It is hard to believe that I haven’t blogged for 3 months already… Times goes fast, especially when you are busy. I took a bit of time off from blogging this summer and this on purpose. Indeed after spending two years writing, researching and reading I felt like I needed a bit of time off. That’s done. I’m back!

In exactly two weeks I will start a new academic year as a postgraduate student at the LSE. If I am now happy and exited at the idea to start my course I have spent most of my summer worrying on how I will actually manage to pay for the fees. Here is a little non-exhaustive list of the facts and tips I learnt along the way:

1) Apply early: Regardless of the kind of funding you are looking after, the competition will be fierce. The number of Studentships and scholarships is limited and many have application deadlines coming as early as December for the next academic year. So don’t waste time and get you application ready as early as possible.

2) Visit the careers and student websites to see what is available for you: You will certainly be able to apply to scholarships and grants within your university, but that is not all you can hope for. There are many scholarships available and some require to fill really specific conditions. So don’t give up at the first rejection and look elsewhere. Websites such as prospects , Scholarship search or again Direct Gouv will be really helpful on finding the informations you are looking for. You can also look into local scholarships. For example there might be financial help available within your council or city. International? Look ar your embassy or national education website, there is probably something for you there.

3) Employed ? Could you be sponsored? If you are already employed, your company could be interested in sponsoring you. In the current economic climate that is pretty unlikely but not impossible. There might be a need in the company for a new accountant and your boss might be happy to pay for your training rather than hiring a newbie. Indeed, you already know the company and the company already knows you. You might have a card to play , so try. If you never try you will never know right?

4) Self-funding option 1: A part-time job: And here I will put “self-funding” under brackets because a part-time job will certainly not cover your fees AND living expenses. But it could at least pay for one of the two. Many universities will provide you with guidelines on the recommended part-time work hours during the academic terms. In my case, the university recommend no more than 15 hours of work a week. I’ll work 16 hours and I am sure I will be fine. Working and studying in the same time is really challenging, yet I have found that it has helped me to be more efficient. Indeed, a student who has a job will be put under tighter time constraints and will consequently have to be more organised in order to succeed in its studies. Saying that it was easy would be a lie, it was hard and I finished the two years absolutely exhausted, but I can now pride myself  to be much more organised thanks to these two years.

5) If all fails: A loan : If, like me, you didn’t manage to secure a scholarship, there is always one option left: A loan.  Now that might be really scary as the interest rates are high and most loans are to be repaid straight away. If you need the money now and want to repay after finishing your studies, there is still one option left : The career and development loan. This loan is proposed by two banks, the co-operative bank  and Barclays. The career and development loan allows you to borrow up to £10.000 at a rate of 9,9% APR. You won’t have to pay anything while you are studying as the Skills Funding Agency will pay the interests while you are learning. You will then start repaying post graduation. That sounds pretty good and is potentially one of the best option out there if everything else fail. However, I will consider this option thoughtfully before taking any loan. The career and development loan, despite being a loan sponsored by a government funding body isn’t comparable to student finance or a governmental loan. You will have to start repaying your loan one month after your graduation and this regardless of your situation. So, if , like me you are taking a loan for your masters, good luck. We better secure a good job post-graduation. And even if I am optimistic about my future, nothing is certain but death and taxes!

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