Preparing for postgraduate study: Organising your finances

Financing myself during my masters was a big concern for me coming back into education. The new government loans of £10,000 were a lifesaver and really made the postgraduate qualification accessible to me, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get by on that alone. Here’s a few tips I’ve come up with for if you’re anything like me and having the same concerns about your money situation at university!

Start putting a bit away now if you can

Of course this depends on your current situation and if you’re currently studying on your undergraduate it might be a bit harder than if you’re out in the world of full-time work as I was. As soon as I’d made the decision to go back to university in September, I began to put a bit of my pay check away each month. It can be fifty pounds or a hundred, or five hundred a month if you can stretch to that. Whatever you manage to put away now, will make your financial situation that little bit easier when you’re studying again.

Enquire with your bank about student accounts

I wasn’t immediately aware until I enquired, but some banks will be quite happy to change your graduate account back into a student account (with all the benefits such as an interest free overdraft that come with them). Although I’m pretty hopeful I won’t need to use that overdraft with quite the same enthusiasm that I did during my undergraduate degree, having it there in case of an emergency is really useful. 

Write out budget plan

I can think of a lot of things I’d rather be doing with my time and I’m sure you can too, but having at least a broad idea of how much money is coming in and out each month/semester is really important. The government loan for masters comes in termly instalments, and I know that I need to use a certain percentage for my programme fees whilst another percentage needs to pay for my rent for the next few months. Arranging your budget around these essentials will help you to avoid any money problems further down the line. 

Get a part time job whilst you’re studying

It depends on if you’re doing a part-time or a full-time masters but you should have some spare time which you can put towards a job to help support your day-to-day spending. The university student jobs team will be more than happy to assist you and keep a list of vacancies you can apply to. Alternatively, you can work as a student ambassador which gives you the flexibility to work when you have the time without the stricter commitments of other jobs. There will likely also be the chance to work as a campaigns ambassador and keep a student life blog like the one I’m writing, which is again another really flexible way to earn some money and do something enjoyable whilst practicing your writing skills!


Get an NUS discount card

Pick up an NUS card as soon as you can. The card fee will quickly pay itself off in the savings you can make around the city and is well worth it. Some of the savings you can take advantage of are 10% off at Wilkos and the Co Op, to discounts on Spotify and Megabus.


Rail users should consider a rail card

My final tip for anyone who envisages using the train at least a few times in the year (perhaps to go home or to travel to placement) is to invest in a rail card. Like the NUS card, the initial purchase price can quickly be made up by the savings you’ll make on reduced train tickets and don’t forget that the Plymouth train station is just a five-minute walk from the university so it’s really accessible too.

Everyone’s situation is different when they’re studying a postgraduate, but I hope some of these tips will be relevant and useful to you. For more information about finance you can also visit the university webpages where you can find further info on funding your masters too, as well as the support the uni can offer you whilst you’re here!