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The Ultimate Postgraduate Student Funding Guide

Postgraduate Student Funding GuideOne of the biggest questions every prospective student asks is how to fund a postgraduate degree. There’s lots to consider before starting your postgraduate course:

  • Are postgraduate degrees funded?

  • How do you fund a postgraduate degree?

  • How do you support yourself financially?

  • Do postgraduate students get a maintenance loan?


Surviving student life can be a tricky business, which is why it’s crucial to get on the right financial track from the get-go.

Have you been pulling your hair out trying to navigate through the onslaught of funding sources and figure out how the heck you’re going to make this whole postgraduate study thing work?

Fear not! This postgraduate funding guide talks through all the options available to you, providing essential student hacks, tips and tricks, and funding resources that can help make your postgraduate dreams come true.

Download The Ultimate Postgraduate Student Funding Guide

How much does postgraduate study cost?

The real cost of postgraduate study is different for every student. Tuition fees vary widely from subject to subject, university to university, and whether you’re a home or international student.

The average masters tuition fee in the UK is £8,740 – which is a great investment for your future. Living costs can vary drastically depending on where you go to university, and also on your lifestyle. Fees are normally higher for international students.

It is also useful to consider the additional costs of being a student, such as rent, bills and living expenses. 

 

Per week

Per year

Average Rent (Student halls)

£236 

£12, 272

Average Rent (Private accommodation) 

£166

£8,632

Household bills (Private accommodation) 

£8

£416

Transport (Student bus pass)

£15

£780

Food

£31

£1,612

Course materials 

£4

£208

Mobile phone 

£4

£208

Going out 

£12

£624

Clothes, healthcare and other miscellaneous costs

£14

£728

Total 

£254

£13, 208

 

Additional costs to consider for EU and International students:

 

Cost

Student visa application (from outside of the UK) 

£363 (per application)

Mandatory healthcare insurance 

£470 (per year)


Proof of financial evidence 

  • Your first/current year’s tuition fees 

  • and maintenance of £1,334 a month for each month of your course up to a maximum of nine months 

  • (if your course is one year or more in duration this will be £12,006). 


You can show proof via: 

  • your own bank statements

  • your parents' bank statements

  • a loan

  • obtaining a financial sponsorship

Are postgraduate degrees funded?

The short answer is yes, postgraduate degrees are funded. There are several ways to get funding help for your postgraduate degree, from government loans, bursaries, scholarships, studentships and more.

Many universities also offer alumni discounts for graduates continuing their studies at the same university. For instance, if you chose to continue studying a masters degree after finishing your bachelors degree, the university might offer the masters course at a reduced rate. 

Do postgraduate students get a maintenance loan?

Maintenance loans are not available to postgraduate students. Masters student finance systems operate differently to the undergraduate loan process, which involves a maintenance loan. Postgraduate government loans are sent directly to you to assist with maintenance and living expenses. 

Types of postgraduate funding 

UK Government Student Loans

Student loans are one of the most common ways to fund a university degree. It’s what most undergraduates use to fund their bachelors degree. 

But, can the government fund your masters?

Yes, the UK government provides postgraduate loans to masters students. This is the main source of funding support for most postgraduate students. Masters students are potentially eligible for up to £11,836* in student loans, intended to assist with course fees and living costs.

Masters loans

For masters student loans, the following funding is available to eligible students:

  • *£11,836  for courses starting on or after 1 August 2022

  • £11,570 for courses starting between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022

Postgraduate doctoral loans

For doctoral students, the following funding is available to eligible students:

  • £27,892 for courses starting on or after 1 August 2022

  • £27,265 for courses starting between 1 August 2021 and 31 July 2022

Research councils

For postgraduates, a good place to start when seeking funding is with an appropriate research council, such as the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The problem is, money’s limited and the chances of actually getting funding from research councils are fading by the day.

Not only are research councils incredibly competitive, the application process, which is carried out through the university, can be very long. It’s wise not to pin all your hopes on winning funding from a research council. That being said, research councils do fund a large number of UK students.

The research councils include:


District and Local Councils may also offer small awards for local students or those studying a topic relevant to the area.

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University bursaries and studentships

Postgraduate Student Funding GuideMost universities will have a range of bursaries and studentship awards available for their postgraduate students. Some may cover the costs of your tuition fees and living, others will be set amounts such as £1,000. 

These awards however are limited, as they are usually funded through donations or special schemes.

Another fantastic resource worth investigating is PostgraduateStudentships.co.uk. Their site is dedicated to bringing together all the different funding opportunities open to postgraduates, at both taught and research level, across the UK.

Charitable trusts

From the obscure to the ancient, charities that are aimed at funding those wishing to pursue postgraduate study may be just the lifeline you need. Be aware that you will need to dedicate a large amount of time to sifting through the terms and conditions of each funding body. Some trusts will only cover research or equipment and others won’t pay fees.

"Charities are interested in helping young people realise life goals in relation to education and training."

– Luke Blaxhill, Gradfunding.co.uk

Some of the main charities/trusts offering postgraduate funding in the UK include:


"From my own experience, the Sir Richard Stapley Trust has been incredibly helpful and generous. But bear in mind that due to the increased need for funding, organizations like this are operating a first come, first served policy."

– Jenna Gorman, Postgrad student at University of Oxford

Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries

If you haven’t heard already, then you’re going to want to check out our Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries. Each bursary is worth £500 and they are awarded to students from anywhere in the world. The forms are super simple and quick to fill in – taking less than 5 minutes! The postgraduate bursaries are suitable for everyone. No matter what your course, you are still eligible to apply. What are you waiting for?

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

The UK Research and Innovation offer postgraduate funding support for a range of disciplines and areas. They provide funding for researchers and researching bodies – offering support for PhD students undertaking research. Explore their funding finder to find out more about the UKRI’s postgraduate funding opportunities.

Chevening UK Government Scholarships 

Chevening Scholarships are the UK government’s global scholarship program. These scholarships are funded by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) together with partner organisations and they are intended to help outstanding scholars from around the world who have leadership potential. Chevening Scholarships help these outstanding students study postgraduate courses at UK universities.

Postgraduate Student Loans

Prodigy Finance has been revolutionising student finance since 2007. With 60% of all postgraduate students needing help funding their postgrad programs, but traditional banks and other lenders having difficulty assessing cross-border risk, they are often hesitant to lend to international students. 

That's where Prodigy Finance comes in. In their community model, alumni, impact investors and other private qualified entities fund the next generation of postgraduate students. Their assessment takes into consideration multiple factors such as pre-study salary, university acceptance and future income, to ensure individual loan affordability whilst removing the need for guarantors or co-signers.

Prodigy Finance offers loans to international postgraduate students, as well as UK nationals planning to study at UK universities. If you’re interested in learning more about Prodigy Finance and their loans, visit their FAQs for more details or contact them on students@prodigyfinance.com.

Prodigy Finance is one of many potential funding options for international postgraduate students. Other student funding options are available and Postgrad.com advises you to research all your options thoroughly before making such a commitment. Postgrad.com accepts no responsibility for your choice of loan and does not endorse or support Prodigy Finance. Prodigy Finance Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, and entered on the Financial Services Register under firm registration number 612713.

Postgraduate funding application advice

Postgraduate Student Funding Application AdviceNot quite sure how to make the best possible impression when applying for funding?

  1. Start Early – The earlier you start the better chance you have at finding funding for your postgraduate study. Most funding bodies operate a strict deadline and there is nothing worse than missing a fruitful opportunity because you were a few days late.

  2. Establish Credibility – If you want to establish your credibility then ask your lecturers or tutors to write you a reference in support of your application. Also include a simple statement that highlights the main benefits of your intended research and studies.

  3. Check Aims and Objectives – There is no point wasting your time applying to funding bodies that have specific requirements or specifications that you are unable to meet. Do your homework if you want to have the best chance at winning their attention.

  4. Know How Much They Award – Before sending a plea asking for £1,000, check to make sure exactly how much the individual body is willing to award. You don’t want to be written off without a look-in because you made a silly faux pas!

  5. Have a Clear Plan – Funding bodies are tightening down the hatches when it comes to parting with their cash, which is why you’ll need a sound plan to convince them that their investment won’t be wasted on you. Organisation is key! Differentiate yourself by demonstrating what you need money for, what you’ll do with an award, and your future ambitions.

Self funding

When all else fails your only option is to fund yourself!

Whether you’ve saved up prior to your course, have been given or lent money by a family member, or work/study part time, don’t give up on your postgraduate dreams just yet.

Funding from part-time work

Another way that many postgraduate students fund their studies is by taking up part-time work. 

Depending on your personal circumstances, your tuition fees and student loan eligibility, you might consider getting a part-time job to help fund your postgraduate degree.

Combining paid work with studying can be stressful. Postgraduate study is intensive, a lot more so than your undergraduate degree. If you’re going to avoid falling behind on your studies you’ll have to be constantly on the ball and extremely well organised. It is important to remember that your postgraduate study should always come first.

"You are investing a lot of time, money and personal effort into this qualification, and many graduates are going to have a significant working life ahead of them. Don’t jeopardise that by handing in important assignments late."

– Charlie Ball, Higher Education Careers Service Unit

Ideally, you need to find work that fits with the peaks and troughs of academic life. The long days cramming for presentations. Working around the clock when writing your dissertation. Going on regular field trips.

University student jobs

One potential postgraduate funding option is to work at the university. Whether it’s working in administration, warden, resident assistant, teaching assistant, invigilator, student ambassador or mentor.

There might also be roles in organising conferences and events. The range of in-house university jobs is vast. Plus if you’re lucky you might be able to get a university job that comes with free accommodation.

Nothing up for grabs on your campus? Get savvy and explore the opportunities that may be available in other university departments or even other universities all together.

Where’s the best place to look for student jobs?

Stuck in a rut trying to navigate through the onslaught of job listings?

Skip ‘em and head straight to these sites. If you’ve got a chance at bagging yourself a job these places will be your best bet:

Making extra cash on the side

Who said conventional jobs were the only way to make money? You’re a postgraduate now, so it’s time to put your entrepreneurial skills to the test.

  • Tutor – Talk about something you’re good at with someone who will pay you to be smarter than they are. You are an academic after all.

  • eBay – You can sell absolutely anything on eBay. If you’ve got a load of unwanted stuff lying around, be it old clothes, phones, or even general bric-a-brac, stick it on eBay and see what you can get for it. Once you’ve rinsed your own personal stash try asking friends or family members if they’ve got anything they no longer want to refill your stock.

  • Etsy – If you’re the creative type then why not make the most of your artistic skills by starting a shop on Etsy.com? T-shirts, jewellery, greeting cards and more, Etsy is a vibrant handmade marketplace just waiting to be taken advantage of.

  • Market Stalls – You might not see yourself as much of a market trader, but getting your hands dirty at the local markets could be one of the quickest ways to bag yourself some additional cash. Buy in bulk from a wholesaler and flog it for cheap!

  • Freelancing – From graphic design and website creation to blogging and data entry, working online can make you a pretty penny if you’ve got some know-how.

Funding part-time study

Choosing to study part time will give you more time to work and earn the money you need to live. There are plenty of postgraduate courses that offer a part-time study option (over 2-3 years for Masters and 4-6 years for PhDs).

"Speaking as a university academic of many years, the very best option for masters degrees – if you fail to get full funding from a research council or other funding body – is to do the degree part time and work part time to fund it. You get far more time to think, read and develop maturity in your ideas over two years part time than you do over one."

– Ashley Tumson, former grad student

The only stinger is the tuition fees for part time courses are usually more costly than for full time.

Best postgraduate student bank accounts

Student Bank AccountsAs a postgraduate student, you’ll be responsible for managing your own student finances. Here’s an overview of things to look out for:

  • 0% overdraft fees – If you’re anything like the majority of other postgraduate students, you’ll need an overdraft. Whatever bank you choose to go with, just make sure you’re not getting charged for your overdraft.

  • Beware freebies and gimmicks – Don’t get drawn in by freebies and gimmicks! These short-term offers may seem appealing at first, but you need to be savvy and think about the long-term benefits otherwise you could easily lose out. Banks target students in a hope that they will secure you as a customer for life. Stay on your game and identify the true pros and cons before making a final decision.

  • Graduate Packages – Find out what preferential terms the bank in question offers graduating students. Also be sure to discover what the repayment terms are, and how they will aid you in paying off any incurred debt.

Top student bank accounts

When it comes to student banking these guys are the biggest players in the market:

Postgrad’s top money saving tips

Looking for tips and tricks to help you save some extra cash each month?

Try giving some of these a whirl:

  • Buy in bulk

  • Borrow books from the library or buy them second hand on Amazon

  • Always ask for a student discount and have your card handy

  • Shop around to find the most competitive prices

  • Do your shopping late at night when all the fresh and baked goods have been reduced

  • Grow your own food - it’s a lot easier than you think

  • Befriend someone that works in a supermarket

  • Make the most of loyalty cards

  • Don’t be influenced by your friends’ spending habits

  • Only take the amount of cash you can afford to spend when going on a night out

  • Do your clothes shopping on eBay or wait for the sales

  • Use coupons

Useful resources 

From postgraduate student funding and finance to health and relationships, we’ve scoured the web and compiled a list of the best student resources available.

Postgrad Blog – Postgrad’s very own blog with lots of new posts added specifically regarding funding and bursaries as well as general postgraduate study advice. Plus we have an incredibly useful ‘Fees and Funding’ section that you don’t want to miss!

Student Beans – Providing students with discounts, entertainment and advice on all things student, studentbeans.com speaks directly to over 500,000 UK students every month.

Turn 2 Us – We are a charitable service which helps people access the money available to them – through welfare benefits, grants and other help.

The bottom line: postgraduate study is expensive and getting the funding you need can be a battle but don’t let that deter you from following your dreams and enhancing your prospects.

Hopefully this guide will have given you the inspiration, know-how and tools you need to go out there and secure yourself some cash.

Apply for one of our Postgrad Solutions Study Bursaries