Published on April 11th, 2021 | by tefl0
How to Calculate the Cost of a Postgraduate Degree
Whether you’ve already picked out your future career path or are just trying to figure out what field of study you want to pursue next, you’re probably thinking about the cost of it all and whether you’ll need to take out a postgraduate or private student loan.
We’ve put together a list of all the fees you’re likely need to research and calculate for, both the obvious and the more hidden, as well as the best ways to plan and pay for them.
Just as with a Bachelor’s degree, the first thing you’ll need to account for is the tuition fee of your course. Unlike a Bachelor’s however, where a majority of universities charge the government cap of £9,250 for UK students for most of their courses, the fees for a Master’s or another postgraduate degree varies per subject and university.
Fees will also differ depending on whether you are doing a full-time or part-time course. Part-time courses (usually spread out over 2 or 3 years depending on the course) can be a cheaper option for those who aren’t in a rush or are looking to work alongside their course, but keep in mind that the fee may then be subject to change each year.
Essentially, be sure to do your research into how fees and courses compare across universities, alongside if there are similar courses that cover many of the same modules but with different names, to be sure that you are paying for the best option you can find.
As you likely encountered with your undergraduate, the location of your university will effect whether you have to move out to attend, and the cost of living in that area. Remember to take this into account if you are thinking of doing a part-time course – you may be potentially lowering your tuition fees but how does a longer period of rent factor in?
Many universities offer postgraduate halls which tend to be a bit quieter than their undergraduate counterparts but maintain that bubble of being surrounded by other students. However, these can be more expensive than renting a room in a shared house or flat off campus, so be sure to compare your options and see what you think would work for you.
Depending on whether you decide to live on or off campus, or close or far to your main building if at a city university, you’ll need to take into account your commute. Look into travel passes or student discounts on travel in the area and see whether it would be worth purchasing if you know you will need to commute often.
If you live off-campus or further away from your main building, you’ll need to travel in for any classes, access to the campus library, or even certain administrative tasks. Alternatively if you live on-campus or close to your main building, you may need to travel into town or to a different area of the city for certain shops or social meetings.
Alongside the commute whilst you are at university, you may want to travel to see your family and friends if you moved away for your course. If you are lucky and moved relatively close to your home city or town, you are probably aware of the cheapest bus and train options for the odd weekend home and can visit on a whim. If you are a bit further away however, train tickets can be expensive and buses whilst cheaper can be much longer journeys, so you may need to plan for these journeys in advance to make sure they fit in your budget.
The last thing we want to remind you to account for, is the cost of any resources that the university may expect you to bring for yourself, or which are in limited supply. You will likely find a majority of the books you may need from your university library, or through online resources that they will give you access to, but are there any texts that would be preferrable to own a copy of for the duration of your course or even just a term?
The need and costs for any such resources would of course differ from course to course but it’s something to keep in mind and look into before you start studying so that you can plan for it in your budget rather than realising a couple of weeks into your course that you may need to suddenly purchase an important item.
Financial Support Options
So now that you have a rough idea of the cost of your postgraduate degree, you might be worrying about how you’re going plan for and pay for it. Don’t panic. There are multiple student funding and student loan options for you to look into and reduce the stress of your postgraduate finances.
To begin with, many universities offer alumni discounts or benefits to their previous students, so if you enjoyed your time at your undergraduate university or feel as though you can continue to thrive academically there, see how well their Master’s course suits your interests.
Then there is government support through Student Finance, but unlike undergraduate degrees, tuition fee loans are not fully covered but rather capped at an amount set by the company, and there aren’t maintenance loans available for postgraduate students.
Many universities also offer scholarships and grants for postgraduate students, but keep in mind that these are often very competitive or require very specific requirements to meet that will depend on the university and the nature of their grant or award.
An option that is becoming more and more appealing to postgraduate students, are private student loans. Private student loans companies often work with you to individually tailor the amount and repayment period, reliant on your financial profile and chosen course, to ensure that you can focus fully on your studies without having half of your mind constantly worrying about your finances.
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