The Different Types of Student Loans

| April 1, 2021

Although most undergraduate students have to also think about tuition fees, maintenance fees, and other general costs of gaining a degree, the student loans available to them are quite different to those available to postgraduate students. 

It can be overwhelming to think about what costs to prepare for when looking at postgraduate studies, but we’re here to tell you why postgraduate finances can be so different to undergraduate, as well as the different loans for postgraduate studies available for you to look into:

Part 1 – The Distinctions Between Undergrad and Postgrad Fees

Tuition Fees

Just as with a Bachelor’s degree, the first thing you’ll need to account for is the tuition fee of your course. However, for a Bachelor’s degree, a majority of universities in the UK charge the same fee for home students – currently the government cap of £9,250 –  for most of their courses. In contrast, the fees for a Master’s or any postgraduate degree varies not just between universities, but also from subject to subject.

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 fees may then be subject to change each year.

Maintenance Fees

The cost of living whilst you are completing your postgraduate will depend mostly on the location of your university and if you need to move out to attend. 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 if you are paying a high rent then you will be doing so for a longer period.

Many universities offer postgraduate halls; which tend to be a bit quieter than their undergraduate counterparts but provide a feeling of being surrounded by other students that many find comforting. 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.

Travel and Commutes

This is where the cost of something is least differentiated by whether you are pursuing an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. The cost of your commute will rather depend on whether you are living on or off campus if at a campus university, or close or far to your main learning building if at a city university. If you know you will need to commute often around your area, it may be worth looking into any local travel passes or student discounts on travel and comparing it to the cost of your daily journey.

If you move for the duration of your course, you may still want to travel to see your family and friends, even if you are older and more experienced than you were during your Bachelor’s degree and video calling has evolved greatly. If you move 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. 

Part 2 – Options for Getting Financial Support

University Support

To begin with, many universities try to entice their graduates to study further with them through alumni discounts or benefits, often through the lower tuition fees – usually ranging from 10%-25% off the standard fee. 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 courses suit your interests.

Most universities also offer some scholarships and grants for postgraduate students, but keep in mind that these usually have very limited spaces, meaning they can be extremely competitive or require very specific requirements to meet. The nature of these requirements will of course depend on the university and the type of grant or award.

Government Loans

Then there is government support through Student Finance, but unlike undergraduate degrees, postgraduate loans do not always  cover the tuition fee – the amount you are eligible for depends on your university, course, and personal circumstances – and is capped at an amount set by the company. Furthermore, the total amount of this loan will be split across your years of study, and there are no separate loans available for maintenance. 

The requirements for postgraduate loans are also more strict than they are at undergraduate level; if you have previously applied for one (e.g. for a Master’s) and are studying for another (e.g. another Master’s or PhD) you cannot apply again, and the course you are studying must be a full stand-alone course which is not funded at all by undergraduate Student Finance.

Private Student Loans

An option that is becoming more and more appealing to postgraduate students, in light of these limited financial options amongst rises in costs for further education, are private student loans

There has been a rise in companies offering private student loans to postgraduate students, and the best ones will work with you to individually tailor the amount you will require for the duration of your course, and settle on a repayment period that works best with your financial profile and circumstances both during your studies and afterward. Thus, ensuring that you can focus fully on your studies without having half of your mind constantly worried or stressed about your finances.

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