For Students: Postgraduate Loans
While some students (those which are classed as vocational) are elligable for the old system of Career Development Loans of £300-£10,000, the hot news in the student funding world are the new government postgraduate loans!
This new loans system is for all Home and EU students, for Masters funding (up to £10,000) for courses beginning September/October 2016, and PhD loans of up to £25,000 are also coming in for the 2018-19 academic year, for students resident in England. Repayments are 6% of annual income over £21,000 once you graduate. This new loans system represents amongst the biggest shakeup of the postgraduate funding system we've seen in a long time: a lot more money (albeit loaned money) will be available to most students.For the latest developments, stay tuned to FindaMaster's excellent loans news page which seems to be the best news source on the loans.
While the loans are seemingly a boon, it's best to think before you take one out. To start with, you might ask yourself: do I want to get into any more debt than I am already in? If you are happy to take out a further loan, do also bear in mind that the loans not enough to bankroll a whole course. A full loan of £10,000 for Master's courses will probably take care of your fees, but it will only leave (at best) a few thousand pounds for your maintenance. For a PhD, the full loan will average £8,300 a year if your doctorate takes three years, and £6,250 a year if you take four. But the cost of study overall, when maintained is also factored in, is likely to be at least double this!
An important point to consider, then, is where the rest of the money is going to be coming from? It is here that the Alternative Guide can help you gain 'top up' funding using charities and trusts? One key advantage a loan gives you is that you now have a bona fide source of finance, and you are not entirely unfunded. Charities are much likelier to back a student who has another source of income (ideally from grants, savings, or part time work) but a loan from a respectable source, like this scheme, will also be acceptable. The loan will help reduce the gap between the money you have, and the money you need, and charity will probably be more likely to offer you the supplementary award you need to bridge the gap, than it might have done had your deficit been larger and beyond the charity's ability to meet.
While the loan might put you in a stronger position to gain charity funding, and indeed might encourage you to apply for a postgraduate course you otherwise might not have done, do be mindful, as you always should be when beginning a course with a deficit, that you are taking a risk. There is no guarantee other funding will emerge to supplement the loan, so having a backup plan is always sensible if top up funding from charity does not emerge.
For Staff: The Impact of Postgraduate Loans
Are you a staff member considering the impact of the new Postgarduate Loans system on students? If so, read our Postgraduate Loans Staff Statement!