Fast-track graduate courses
Those who embark on a fast track graduate course will find that there is some funding available, which is mainly why these courses are so competitive. The typical funding arrangements are as follows: in the first year students will have to pay £3,465 tuition costs and there will be a loan available for eligible students from Student Finance England to cover the difference between £3,465 and the tuition costs of the university, to a maximum charge of £9,250.
From years 2-4 eligible students will receive the NHS Bursary of £3,715 per year towards tuition and again, the shortfall can be met by a loan from Student Finance England. Any (inflationary) rise in tuition may result in an increase in fees. A full maintenance loan (income assessed) is available for year 1, and a reduced rate maintenance loan for years 2-4.
There are also a number of allocated means-tested NHS bursaries which students can apply for once they are in year 2 of a fast track graduate course, as well as a non means tested grant of £1,000. For further details see the NHS Business Services Authority.
The issue of funding, including eligibility and the application process, can appear complex but there is a comprehensive leaflet produced by Queen Mary, University of London.
Conventional medical courses
Graduate medical students on standard medical courses rarely receive any financial support and this will be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. In years 1-4 students pay the full tuition fees (no tuition fee loan) although a full maintenance loan (income assessed) is available. There is some help available for eligible students from year 5, and this includes tuition fees paid by the NHS, a means tested NHS bursary, a reduced rate maintenance loan and a non means tested grant of £1,000. Apart from meeting the tuition fees you will also need to meet your living costs throughout your training, and this may be a factor when deciding where to study.
Some graduates deliberately work for a couple of years to raise some capital and, indeed, a previous employer may be able to offer holiday/part-time work during your course to supplement your living costs. Remember that working part-time during your training is easier in the pre-clinical years of a standard five-year medical course but becomes more or less impossible in the later years of the course, or during fast track courses, due to the intensity of the work.
Various trusts and charities exist to help self-financing students (see The Grants Register, and Directory of Grant Making Trusts which you can find at our Resource Centre at 56 Banbury Road) but not many give more than a few hundred pounds. However, the further along in your medical degree, the greater your chances of getting money, so keep applying to the same charities. Also search Turn2Us, for possible charitable grants and the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund (which also provides further ideas about managing your finances). Some universities have small numbers of scholarship funds. The British Medical Association, has an online student finance guide which has details of bursaries, loans or trust funds available to those wishing to enter the profession.
Overall, though, you are likely to face a considerable financial burden during your training and it is worth talking to other graduates studying medicine to find out how they cope financially - they may also be able to give you advice if they have been successful in raising money.