Returning to study? Here’s how to balance your budget!

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If you’re returning to postgraduate study after working, or indeed blending it with your work, then you will have a far greater knowledge of the costs involved. It’s likely you will know how to manage your finances a lot better than you did as a first year undergraduate. However, no matter how well you plan, some costs on returning on study can come as a surprise. Let’s take a look at how you can maximise your budget.

1. Create a budget

Even if you’re financial picture is healthy and you don’t consider undertaking postgraduate study as a significant financial outlay, it’s important that you understand quite how much an impact it will have on your personal finances. You should create a budget for your postgraduate study and accurately map out all your expense, not just the tuition fees. There will, of course, be supplies and miscellaneous expenses, the cost of transport and fuel and if you’re an international student or having to travel for your study, you will need to add the very considerable factor of accommodation aswell. You can do this the old-fashioned way, with a notebook page divided by day or week with outgoings on one side and incomings on the other. There are also a host of mobile apps, most even built in with whatever operating system you are using, that can be a very handy way of monitoring what it is you are spending on your postgraduate study.

2. Plan ahead

Of course, thinking about your budgeting should happen long before you actually start your studies. If you are planning on starting a course, try to put some money aside to cover the costs and try and pay off any outstanding debts in advance of your studies so you may be in a better position to borrow again if you need to. Try not to load your study costs onto expensive options like credit cards, which you’ll obviously have to pay back every cent, plus interest.

3. See what supports are out there

Student Unions, and college campus support services, are a great resource when it comes to budgeting, managing financial or college workloads and plugging you into a network that can help. For example, carpooling options are actively encouraged. Another great resource are the meal plans that most major institutions post on their student union pages of their sites. It’s a great way to plan ahead, buy economically and eat healthily.

4. Working while in college

If you’re working full-time and studying in the evenings, you will already have a full enough day, and hopefully your studies won’t be as much of a drain on your finances as they will be on your time. However, if you’re studying full time and aren’t eligible for a grant of any kind or if you haven’t got significant savings or don’t fancy going down the student loan route then you will need to take on a part-time job in order to finance your studies. Aside from obvious drain on time, there are actually many benefits when it comes to working while in college. If you can find a job relevant to your sector then that’s great, but no matter what type of job you end up taking, it adds to your CV when you begin applying for jobs. Employers value the fact that you are able to blend both work and study and you’ll earn transferable skills such as managing your time and learning and commercial acumen. You can also choose the pursue the internship route, if you can match it with your study timetable and if your course does not have a built-in work placement module within the course content.


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