Paying for a London degree
28 May 2015
Tuition fees can be overwhelming, but for an international student thinking of studying in London there are many options to help ease the burden of paying for a degree. Scholarships, part-time work, and loans are how I am making ends meet while studying in London.
Most universities offer scholarships, so make sure to get in touch with the financial department to see what’s offered through your school.
Don’t forget to check with your specific department. Often, scholarships are offered for a particular field and won’t be advertised on the general scholarship page. If you can’t seem to find any information, e-mail the department.
Check for scholarships specifically for international students. There aren’t as many of these, but most schools sponsor a few scholarships specifically for international students, masters students, non-traditional students, etc.
There are sometimes options with your home country for international studies….but not many. For example, in the US you have to be a genius or solving world hunger or something equally as impressive, AKA I didn’t even come close. Look into your options, but don’t be too disheartened if nothing seems to be applicable.
My scholarship has opened some amazing doors for me – here’s me with the president, Professor Simon Gaskell, at the International Scholars Reception.
Don’t rely on part-time work to help you pay tuition fees! If after scholarships you still have tuition left, make sure you take care of that either through personal funds or through a student loan.
Loans are the reality for a lot of people when pursuing an education in London. Work with your home government to try to get the best loans possible. For US students, that’s Perkins and Direct Subsidized loans before looking into Unsubsidized, PLUS, or private loans. Once you’ve been approved for your loans, work with your London university’s Financial Aid department to complete all the necessary paperwork and tasks to ensure your loan will be transferred to the right university. Queen Mary has an amazing flow chart and Excel document that walked me through the process step-by-step, and the FinAid people were wonderful and very helpful, which made for a hassle-free loan experience.
Once you’ve covered all the tuition, make sure you’ll have enough to live on as well…London is a VERY expensive place to live! I took out a larger loan than I needed to help me cover living expenses while studying, since I didn’t know whether or not I’d be able to find part-time work. Then if you are able to find a job once you’re here, you can use that income to enjoy life in London.
If you’re in the country on a Tier-4 (T4) visa**, you have to be aware of restrictions other than just time. For example, I looked into tutoring as an option for part-time work, but since I’m T4 I can’t work freelance. Most tutoring agencies are freelance since tutoring is often 1-1 and at the request of the tutee. Luckily, I found a tutoring agency that had a scheduled timetable (aka not freelance) and have been working for them while studying.
Use your university’s job site to look for part-time opportunities on and around campus. Most job searching sites have filters so you can just see the part-time work available. Many of my friends found jobs as baristas at local cafes or as food service staff at restaurants or catering companies.
A third option (which you should be very cautious of when using) is Gumtree, the UK version of Craigslist. I found an amazing nanny job through Gumtree but I’ve heard horror stories of terrible families scamming college students for free childcare. If you choose to use Gumtree be very cautious, meet the family or employer before agreeing to anything (as many times as you need to be comfortable!), set and put in writing clear guidelines for what the expectations, duties, and pay will be, etc. I absolutely love my nanny job and there are great families out there, but don’t jump into anything if you don’t feel comfortable.
Takeaway Tidbit: Take the time to make sure you’ve looked into all your options for funding your degree in London.
**If you have a Tier-4 (Student) visa, you are only allowed to work 20 hours per week.
- Blog provided by Audrey Faltin, an English Literature Postgraduate student at Queen Mary. Audrey is from Nebraska in the Midwestern US. She enjoys studying and living in such an open, accessible city, and tries to take part in as many activities on campus and around London as possible.