Can I afford to study at Postgraduate level?

Understanding the financial implications of studying a Masters’ degree, Postgraduate Teacher Training or a PHD.

So, you have finished your course – what is next? Studying for a Masters’ degree, training to become a teacher or studying for a Doctorate course are often popular choices. Whether you loved your course so much that you would like to carry on, you have decided that you need another qualification for your desired career, you want to impart your knowledge onto future generations or even that you would like a bit more time at university before deciding what to do next. There are plenty of exciting study options available. However, funding for a Masters’, teacher training or a PHD often differs from the support available for undergraduate study. Before enrolling on your dream course, it is worth taking some time to plan how you are going to fund yourself for the next year of study. Especially if you do not have savings, or family/friends who are able to offer support.

Budgeting

The first step is to work out what you need to live on as a postgraduate student. You may already know how much your living costs such as rent, food, bills, travel, etc, are likely to be, based on your spending as an undergraduate student. Tuition fees will vary depending upon the course, the university, and whether you plan to study on a full or part-time basis. For further details of course fees, please refer to the ‘Fees and funding’ section of the course overview page of the website: https://www.northampton.ac.uk/courses/

If you studied for your undergraduate course at the University of Northampton and plan to enrol on a Masters or doctoral programme with us, you may be eligible for a 20% discount on course fees (eligibility criteria apply), please see the Graduate Discount Scheme for further details:

Now consider other course-related costs such as books, printing, equipment, field trips, placements, etc – you may need to contact the course tutor for further details of typical costs.

If possible, make sure that you allow some room in your budget for additional spending, in case of emergencies.

Do not forget that a full-time Masters’ and teacher training courses can typically run for 52 weeks – and sometimes longer. Whereas a full-time PHD typically runs over three years and can take double that if being studied part time. For further budgeting guidance, read our Money Matters blog: http://moneymatters.northampton.ac.uk which has more information about how to budget and why do you need to budget, as well as and other related posts; including online tools like student calculators and Apps to help save you money.

Postgraduate Master’s Loan

You may be eligible for a Postgraduate Master’s Loan to help you with your tuition fees, living and course costs while studying (eligibility criteria apply). However, there are several differences between this loan and what you may have received when you were an undergraduate student:

  • There are no separate loans for tuition fees and living costs (maintenance) – instead, you can apply for a single loan of up to £11,570 (for courses starting in 2021/22). This means that you will need to arrange payment of your tuition fees directly to the University. The Postgraduate Master’s Loan is paid in three instalments during the academic year; if you are studying for longer than a year, the funding will be split evenly across the length of your course.
  • It is not means-tested – therefore the amount available is not based on your income or your family’s income. This can be good news if your family has a high household income, however those who come from a low household income may find the support available is much less than the support available while studying an undergraduate course, especially as there are no additional allowances such as Parents Learning Allowance or the Childcare Grant to help with childcare costs. So, if you need childcare while studying, you will need to consider this cost within your budget.
  • Usually you can only apply for a Postgraduate Masters Loan towards one full Masters-level qualification. There is no ‘plus one’ year of support available if you need to repeat or retake part of your study.

Further information about the Postgraduate Master’s Loan including eligibility criteria and how to apply is available online*.

www.gov.uk/funding-for-postgraduate-study

As the Master’s Loan is unlikely to cover your tuition fee, living and course-related costs in full, you may wish to consider it as a government contribution and then look at other ways to pull together the money that you need.

Teacher Training Funding

Students looking to continue their postgraduate study and become teachers may be able to apply for funding if completing a course in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) (not including early years) or a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE).  You will need to apply for undergraduate student finance to get funding for your teacher training, even though the course is postgraduate level.

Students who have already gained qualified teacher status cannot get an undergraduate tuition fee loan.

The Tuition Fee Loan is up to £9,250 (2021/22 academic year) and the Maintenance Loan to help with living costs is up to £12,382 (2021/22 academic year), however please be aware this rate is lower for those living at home or living outside London. You can still apply for the tuition fee and maintenance loan if you already have a student loan from your undergraduate study, and regardless of whether you get a bursary or scholarship (dependent on subject area).

Alumni PGCE Bursary Award – If you studied your undergraduate degree with the University of Northampton and are looking to enrol on to a full-time PGCE course, you may be eligible for the Alumni PGCE Bursary Award of £500, please visit our website for full details.

Further information about funding for teacher training, please visit*:

https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk/funding-your-training

www.gov.uk/teacher-training-funding

Doctoral Loan

You may be eligible for a Postgraduate Doctoral Loan to help with the cost of tuition fees, living and course costs while studying (eligibility criteria apply). However, much like the Postgraduate Masters Loan, there are several differences between this loan and what you may have received when you were an undergraduate student:

  • There are no separate loans for tuition fees and living costs (maintenance) – instead, you can apply for a single loan of up to £27,265 (for courses starting in 2021/22). This means that you will need to arrange payment of your tuition fees directly to the University. The loan will be divided equally across each year of your course and is paid in three instalments over the academic year;
  • It is not means-tested – therefore the amount available to you is not based on your income or your family’s income. As with the Postgraduate Masters Loan, there are no additional allowances such as Parents Learning Allowance or Childcare Grant to help with childcare costs. So, if you need childcare while studying, you will need to consider this within your budget.

Further information about the Doctoral loan including eligibility criteria and how to apply can be found online*:

https://www.gov.uk/doctoral-loan

* The above information is relevant to students applying for support from Student Finance England. Funding may differ for those who normally live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, so please refer to your regional funding body for further information prior to applying.

Loans from other providers

Loans to help cover the cost of tuition fees and living costs may be available from private companies such as banks or other specialist providers – however please be cautious if considering this option to fund your studies. Each provider will have their own eligibility criteria, interest rates and repayment arrangements may vary and you may find you are unable to apply for both a loan from the Government and another loan. Your credit rating may also be a factor here.

Bursaries and scholarships

You may be eligible to apply for a bursary and/ or scholarship, either from university or from a charity or trust; they are unlikely to fund your full study but may offer help towards specific costs such as fees or course materials. For further details please visit the following websites:

www.prospects.ac.uk/postgraduate-study/funding-postgraduate-study/scholarships-and-bursaries

Be aware that bursaries and scholarships may be limited to students enrolling on specific courses or subject areas, and are usually subject to meeting certain eligibility criteria, receiving an award cannot be guaranteed.

Social Work Bursary – There are a limited number of postgraduate Social Work bursaries awarded by the NHS Business Service Authority for those studying on the MA in Social Work course. Further information and eligibility criteria can be found online:

https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/social-work-students/apply-postgraduate-bursary

Financial Assistance Fund & EU Hardship Fund

University hardship funding such as the Financial Assistance Fund/ EU Hardship Fund may provide additional support towards your living and course costs, however, please be aware that tuition fees cannot usually be considered (eligibility criteria apply). However, receiving an award cannot be guaranteed, and assessment criteria states that postgraduate applicants will need to show that they have made reasonable provision towards the cost of their fees, living and course costs before applying.

Work while studying

Many postgraduate students also try to work while they are studying. This is a great way of improving your CV as well as providing additional income. Speak to Unitemps or other local agencies to see what is available.

For those studying for PHD often find work as associate lecturers, teaching and marking the work of undergraduate students or as that of researcher. It will be worthwhile discussing these opportunities with your course leader.

Taking time out

Look at your budget and be honest about whether you have enough money to start the course now. If your budget does not balance or there is no allowance in case of emergencies, taking a break from your studies so that you can start saving towards your next course may be the best option, especially if you are relying on a Postgraduate loan as your main source of funding.

Although it can be frustrating to put your study plans on hold, it would be far worse to have to drop out halfway through your course due to lack of funds, and still be liable to pay it back when earning above the threshold. There is usually no rush to begin postgraduate study – so if you are feeling a little burned out after your final exams, taking time out can be beneficial. This way you will be fully financially prepared as well as mentally ready to take on your next challenge.

Talk to us!

If you have any queries about postgraduate funding or budgeting, contact the Financial Guidance team.

W: www.northampton.ac.uk/financial-guidance-team

B: www.moneymatters.northampton.ac.uk

E: Money@northampton.ac.uk

T: 01604 893299

A Covid -19 Accommodation Hardship Fund is now available for all eligible University of Northampton Students.

The University of Northampton has received money from the Office for Students (OfS) to help support students who are struggling with the costs of their student accommodation, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The University of Northampton Financial Guidance Team have therefore set up a new Accommodation Hardship Fund.

The Office for Students (OfS) Accommodation Hardship Fund can offer support to students who are renting student accommodation (both University Halls of Residence or Private Sector accommodation) and who are facing financial hardship because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

To be eligible to apply for this fund, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be enrolled on a University of Northampton Higher Education course. The Fund will be available to all Home, EU and International Students who are enrolled on a full-time or part-time, Undergraduate or Postgraduate course or studying with a University of Northampton Sub-Contract partner.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you have student accommodation costs to pay. The Fund is aimed at those who cannot live at home and are currently living in University of Northampton Halls of Residence or Private Sector student accommodation OR those who are currently living at home but are still paying rent for student accommodation.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you are in financial hardship. This could be a loss of an income stream which you rely on, such as a loss of employment or reduced working hours/furlough, you have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or have incurred additional costs due to Covid-19 and have access to limited funds. You will need to provide copies of your bank statements to demonstrate your access to limited funds.
  • You cannot apply for this fund if you have applied for and are eligible to receive a rent rebate on your rental contract with the University of Northampton Halls of Residence. All applications will be checked with the Accommodation Team.
  • You cannot apply for this fund if you are living in your own home (mortgage or renting) and are therefore not paying additional rent for student accommodation.

Please be aware that the OfS Accommodation Hardship Fund is limited and applications will be processed in date order by the Financial Guidance Team. Awards are restricted to one per student; up to a maximum award of £500.

To apply for the OfS Accommodation Hardship Fund you must complete the online application form which you can find on the Student Hub:

For further information about this fund and other funds offered by the Financial Guidance Team, please visit the Finances pages!

To allow the team to process your application as quickly as possible, please ensure you have provided all your supporting documents. This includes a copy of your tenancy agreement as well as a copy of bank statements for ALL the accounts held by you as well as any other supporting evidence that can help your application.

Many students are failing to submit all their bank statements, which means we need to ask for further information and results in a delay with your assessment. Please help us to help you, by providing all your information when you submit your application.

The deadline to apply is Wednesday 17 March 2021. All application forms and any supporting evidence must be received by this date and will not be accepted after this date.

The team have already received a large number of applications. Funds are limited, so please be aware that funds could be fully allocated before the deadline date is reached.

If you would like to find out more about this fund or other support offered by the University, please visit the University of Northampton Finances page:

Moved back home for the January term? What does it mean for me?

Like the majority of University Students in the UK, you will be spending your first term of 2021 at the University of Northampton working from home. That is unless you’re on an allied health professional course. With so many students now moving back home the Student Loans Company (SLC) have released new guidance.

Throughout this blog post we’ve broken down the information in an easy way to help you understand it quickly. (This information is for those who receive their loan from Student Finance England)  The full information in regards to it can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/guidance-for-students-who-have-moved-back-home-in-the-january-term

No matter where you live during your period of study your Tuition Fee loan is exactly the same. However your Maintenance Loan is dependent on where you live during term times. They are the following:

A screen shot of the 2020 to 2021 academic year Maintenance Loan table. Living at home - up to £7,747. Living away from home, outside London up to £9,203. Living away from home, in London - up to £12,010.
A screen shot of the 2020 to 2021 academic year M;aintenance Loan table.

For individuals studying at the University of Northampton, you only need to worry about Living at home or Living away from home, outside of London. The approve image shows the maximum amount of loan an individual can get. Maintenance Loans are means tested dependent on household income.

Take a look at this really useful article by Save The Student which explains Maintenance Loans and how they work: https://www.savethestudent.org/student-finance/maintenance-loans.html

Under normal situations, if you were to move back home during term time you would be reassessed and your loan amount would be reduced to the ‘Living at home’ rate. Currently, the UK Government has made the decision for those students who are still having to pay accommodation costs – both in on and off campus/private  accommodation will not be reassessed. This is to provide students who are still paying rent the financial support that they need during these extraordinary circumstances.

Do you need to tell the SLC if you have moved back home?

You only need to do this if you have moved back home properly. By that we mean that you are no longer having to payout for accommodation costs such as rent. If you are still having to pay for accommodation costs, please do NOT update your SLC account as they will re-asses you to the ‘Living at Home’ rate of loan for this January.

However, if you have moved home properly make sure to update you account to reflect your new living situation. This will allow your rate of loan to reflect your living situation and will amend the amount that you will potentially pay back.

To update your information about you living accommodation and to make any changes, visit you SLC online account here.

If you are undecided about your accommodation in the future and plan on moving away from home in the third term, due to the uncertainty of how Covid-19 will affect face to face and remote teaching and learning, the Government advice and guidance will be updated accordingly. As soon an we know anything else, we will update this blog accordingly.

Can you get any extra funding costs to cover the costs of moving back home and studying at home?

For many people working from their ‘home’ home is not as effective as whilst working at University. For many people they have experienced some new costs and unplanned expenditure. For many students who have had their income reduced due to being furloughed or because of their loss of employment this can be an extremely challenging time.

However, you cannot get any extra funding from the SLC to cover the costs of ‘living at home’ For those receiving the Maintenance Loan for living at home, should be able to cover the costs associated with living at home. For those of receiving the ‘living away from home’ rate of Maintenance Loan will continue to do so to cover costs such as accommodation.

The University of Northampton, has received money from the Office for Students (OfS) and is able to provide a Covid Hardship Fund which all students are eligible for provided they meet the requirement criteria. The Covid Hardship Fund, can be used for students to purchase equipment that they may need to work effectively from ‘home’ home or to cover short fallings brought in by the Covid-19 pandemic.

To find out more about the Covid-19 Hardship fund, take a look at our recent blog post here.

If you’re still to apply for Student Finance this year, what should you put on your application for living arrangements for this term?

If you are going to be at home for the majority of this January term – with the current uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, this could be extremely likely. Yet, you’re still having to pay accommodation costs for you accommodation away from home such as rent. You should still put ‘living away from home’ for this term on your application. If you won’t have these costs, then put ‘living at home’.

If you still have accommodation costs, even through you’ve moved back home and don’t want the higher rate of loan?

You must inform the SLC in regards to any changes to your contact address by logging into you account. If you do not want to continue receiving the higher Maintenance Loan of ‘living away from home’, you’ll need to update the extra step when updating your contact address to tell us about your change of living arrangements fo the majority of this January term.

Once that change has been made, they will re-asses your student finance and reduce your entitlement for the January term. If you have already received the higher rate as your January Maintenance Loan payment, the SLC will recover the ‘overpayment’ from future payments.

If you receive your student finance from Student Finance Wales, Student Finance Northern Ireland?

The current information about the ‘living away from home’ loan rate mentioned throughout this blog, focusses on those receiving funding fro Student Finance England. However, the rules are pretty much the same, if you are still having to pay for accommodation costs whilst living at home due to Covid-19 restrictions, you will still be entitled to the ‘living away from home’ Maintenance Loan.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns about your student finance, feel free to contact the University of Northampton Financial Guidance Team by either emailing money@northampton.ac.uk or visiting the Financial Guidance page of the Student Hub.

The SLC has a team of expert advisers available on their social media channels, so if there is anything you need to contact them about you can submit your questions via either Facebook and Twitter.

A Covid-19 Hardship Fund is now available for all eligible University of Northampton Students.

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the entirety of the world. The financial implications of such have been felt by many, but especially by University Students. With many students struggling with the loss of part time work, being placed on a reduced income because of furlough and the increased expenditures that often come with being at home.  

The University of Northampton have received additional funds from the Office for Students (OfS) to support students through this extremely difficult and uncertain time. The OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund, is available to all students studying at the University of Northampton, to support those who are facing financial hardship as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund can offer short term support only, with its intended purpose to be a contribution towards essential costs for those who have had a reduction in earnings or have lost their income, or those who have additional costs due to the result of the current pandemic. The Financial Guidance team will not consider requests for support towards the cost of fines issued by the University or the Police as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Fund will be available to all University of Northampton Home, EU and International students who are enrolled on a full-time or part-time, Undergraduate or Postgraduate course or studying with a University of Northampton Sub-Contract partner. Please be aware that the OfS Covid-19 Hardship Fund is limited and applications will be processed in date order by the Financial Guidance Team. 

The awards available will be capped as follows: 

  • ‘Home’/UK students without dependents: £300 
  • ‘Home’/UK students with dependents: £500 
  • EU students who are eligible to receive the Tuition Fee Loan support only/International Students: £500 

To apply for the OfS Covid-19 Hardship fund, please complete the application which can be found on the Student Hub: 

The deadline for all applications is Wednesday 17th March 2021. The Financial Guidance Team will not be able to accept any applications submitted after this date. Please be aware that funds are limited and may be fully allocated before this deadline date. 

The Financial Guidance team have created a Frequently Asked Questions document, which can be found here:

Coronavirus and student finance – FAQs

The Coronavirus pandemic has changed everyday life dramatically – it’s a very confusing and anxious time for many, and although the primary focus is health, there is likely to be an impact on money too. 

However, we have compiled some Frequently Asked Questions which can help if you have any queries about finances during this time.

Continue reading “Coronavirus and student finance – FAQs”

Money FAQs for beginning of term 2019/20

At the start of term, the Financial Guidance team receive many queries relating to student finance and funding. Here is a list of the most typical questions – and answers – to help you while you study with us.

Continue reading “Money FAQs for beginning of term 2019/20”

Money at the beginning of term – FAQs

At the start of term, we receive many queries relating to student finance and funding, including what to do about late loans or when Halls rent is due. Here is a list of the most typical questions – with answers – to help you while you study with us.

Continue reading “Money at the beginning of term – FAQs”

How to spend a student loan (part 1)

After you’ve applied for your funding, you can now think about how you’ll spend your money when you get to university. Whether it’s the first time you’ve had to manage your finances or you’re swapping a salary for a student loan, if you start to look at and prepare for potential costs early, it will be easier to create a budget – allowing more time and energy to enjoy your new life at university.

Continue reading “How to spend a student loan (part 1)”

Prospective students – How can I fund my course?

piggies-and-money-1

If you’re thinking of starting a university course in September, now’s the time to start looking into and applying for your funding: as well as tuition fees, you will also need money for your general living and course costs e.g. food, travel, books, socialising, etc.

Continue reading “Prospective students – How can I fund my course?”

Quick guide to completing your FAF application

If you’re struggling financially, you may be eligible for an award from the Financial Assistance Fund (FAF) – to apply, you need to complete an application form and provide evidence to demonstrate your finances over the academic year.

Continue reading “Quick guide to completing your FAF application”