Produced by Sian Hedger
Let’s face it, one of the major worries about taking on postgraduate study is often the prospect of opening your wallet to find cobwebs instead of cash. The expectation of this occurrence can drive many people away from looking into postgraduate study, but there are ways to overcome the spectre of the empty purse.
One of the best ways to bulk up your bank account is to make the most of bursaries and scholarships on offer for your course. Bournemouth University, for instance, now offers scholarships towards postgraduate tuition fees for anyone who obtained a high 2:1 (with a minimum of 65%) or above in their undergraduate degree and it is always worth investigating, and applying for, whatever funding is available to you!
Another simple tip for funding your studies is to take advantage of student bank accounts and the interest free overdraft that they typically offer! This has proven to be a lifesaver for me at the end of the month when my budget starts feeling strained and I find myself unexpectedly needing to pay for my laptop to be fixed (bonus tip: do not leave laptop charger wires where you are likely to trip over them and send your beloved machine on a short skydive without a parachute).
A third way to help you keep food (read ‘coffee’) on the table is to find yourself a part-time job. I have recently been juggling two of these jobs, placement and academic work, which, I’ll admit, is exhausting, but I’m saving up for a treat! I would argue that it is essential for any work you take on while studying to be flexible enough to fit around lectures and any other commitments you have. Several friends of mine work evenings or weekends as this is the easiest way for them to timetable it around their studies, however, both jobs I have are zero hour contracts, which means I can choose when I want to work and, if I have an important deadline looming, I can just not sign up to work that week.
My fourth suggestion for funding your foray into postgraduate study is to look into Professional and Career Development Loans; this is an option I chose not to take this year as I did not personally like the prospect of taking on debt if I could possibly avoid it by working as much as I could, but it is certainly worth considering for those who find that the first three options I’ve listed here won’t quite cover the costs.
So, those are some ways to get some pennies, but what about getting the most out of them? My personal favourite way of budgeting is what I like to call the Poly-Piggy Practice; I have several piggy banks for different things and, at the beginning of each month, I put my budget for each of these categories into the relevant piggy bank, and this really helps me to see how much I have left to spend for that month and on what! It is up to you to work out how much you have available to spend in each category, and what your categories are, but, if you want to make sure you don’t overspend, it is definitely useful to have a designated budget that you make sure not to go over.
To sum up (pun intended, obviously), postgraduate study needn’t leave your wallet a wasteland, a bit of creative timetabling with a part-time job and some nifty money-saving tricks (think ‘student discounts’ and ‘free overdraft’), and you’ll even have money to spend on that all important night out with the girls (or guys). Which reminds me, I’ve got somewhere to be.
By Penelope Pinder