It is 2020, and you have decided to embark on a postgraduate degree in London; this is super exciting! Figuring out how to pay for your degree and manage your finances? Not so exciting…despite having the word ‘fun’ in funding.
Solving the puzzle that is financing your degree and living expenses can be pretty confusing, but never fear! There are a number of ways you can do this, and hopefully this blog will make it a bit less confusing.
Funding your degree looks different for everybody. The postgraduate funding database is a handy tool provided by King’s for finding relevant funding opportunities; you can input details such as your type of study and country of domicile to personally tailor the results.
If you are a UK/EU student, you may be eligible for a UK postgraduate loan of up to £10,906, through student finance, to help with course fees and living costs. You can find out more about the loan, including extra help for disabilities, how to apply and how the loan is paid back here. Students may also qualify for bursaries and scholarships available at King’s, which don’t have to be repaid.
Some students choose to self-fund their degrees, which may involve a combination of methods, including savings, earnings through part-time work alongside your degree, and help from family if possible. There are various flexible work opportunities available to all students through Kings CareerConnect, KCLSU and King’s Talentbank. There may be a maximum number of hours you can work, so it is advisable to check this before making a working commitment, particularly if you are studying on a visa. Working alongside your studies is feasible, as long as you can establish a healthy work-life balance and manage your time well; it is slightly easier to do this if you are studying part-time. If you are an international student, it is definitely worth checking whether there is funding available from your home country, available to students who are planning to study abroad.
If you do have any questions about fees and funding at King’s, you can contact student funding or check out their page for more information. If you are eligible for, but choosing not to take a student loan, you can find some information on what your options are here.
Saving money and spending reasonably as a student in London sounds like an impossible feat; I am here to tell you that anybody can do it (even me) when equipped with the right tools and tips.
Your student status is the key to hundreds of discounts on food, clothes and events in London; always keep your uni ID with you and when you get to the till, always ask if there is a student discount available (you have nothing to lose!). Investing in an NUS/Totum card gives you access to over 250 student discounts, even on TV and internet bills! Free apps such as UNiDAYS and StudentBeans always have fantastic deals for students, and some stores require to see your ID on the app.
Travel-wise, you can save 30% on adult-rate travelcards and bus/tram pass season tickets by applying for an 18+ Student Oyster photocard. The London Hopper Fare allows you to make unlimited journeys for free within one hour of first touching in using pay as you go (contactless or Oyster) on the bus, or tram – as long as you use the same card! You can find out more on the TFL website. For £30, the 16-25 railcard saves you a 1/3 on rail fares throughout Great Britain for the whole year.
Choosing your accommodation wisely can save you a lot of money; living closer to central London is far more expensive than living slightly further out, so it’s worth checking out accommodation which isn’t smack bang in the middle of London.
Food is 100% where most of my money goes (no regrets) but we should all consider bringing in our own lunches every now and then, utilising supermarket student discounts (big up Co-Op) and purchasing a reusable cup for hot drinks at the IoPPN Café. There are these adorable KCL branded Keep cups too, available at main restaurants at all campuses!
Rather than going all out on lots of nights out, why not spend a fun night in with your flatmates or friends? You could have a chill movie night or games night and save a lot of money in the process, while having just as much (if not more) fun as on a night out! Cheap supermarket wine tastes a lot better than cheap bar wine too…
A fun way to make some extra cash is taking part in research studies, where you can get a first-hand experience of what a study looks like, and how it might be conducted. Researchers at the IoPPN are always looking to recruit participants, and offer cash, vouchers or other goodies in return for taking part.
Look out for free talks and exhibitions, such as the KCL Science Gallery where there are amazing exhibitions exploring a combination of science and art. There’s also tonnes of free museums and galleries around London to explore. I would keep an eye out for early bird tickets for subject-relevant events provided by the different KCL societies, such as the Neuroscience society. UNiDAYS carry out student lockdown days at Westfield shopping centre, where you can get your hands on lots of free goodies and student deals in a private area.
To help make budgeting much easier, free mobile banking apps, such as Starling and Monzo, have budgeting tools like categories e.g. food and travel, to give you more control over how and where you spend your money. Signing up with certain banks on a student account comes with various perks, depending on which bank.
Hopefully this blog has given you a quick insight into living cheaply in London! You can find further guidance on budgeting here.