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11

Finances and Budgeting

Starting medical school, one of the primary concerns facing many students is: “Can I afford it?”. The funding for medicine and particularly graduate entry medicine varies from standard undergraduate courses. The main source of funding available consists of a combination of Student Finance (repayable) and an NHS bursary (non-repayable). You can ask Student Finance for less than the maximum amount of funding but as a general rule, it’s worth applying for the maximum as it won’t change repayments too much in the long run. The funding for each year is broken down as follows:

  • Student finance provides a means tested maintenance loan of up to £9706 for the year, £4524 of which is non-means tested. This mean testing is done via your income if you’re an independent studentLink opens in a new window or your parents’ or partner’s income.
  • Student finance provides £5785 of the tuition fee as a loan paid directly to the university
  • This leaves £3465 of the tuition fee that you are responsible for paying to the university yourself
  • Student finance provides a non-means tested maintenance loan of £2534
  • The NHS provides a maintenance bursary of up to £5490 a year, paid monthly, which is means tested via either your income if you’re an independent student or your parents’ or partner’s income (£1000 of this bursary is non-means tested)
  • Student finance pay £5535 of the tuition fee as a loan paid directly to the university
  • The NHS provides a grant for the remaining tuition fee, £3715, paid directly to the university
  • Student finance provides a non-means tested maintenance loan of £1975
  • NHS provides a maintenance bursary of up to £5490 a year, paid monthly, which is means tested off either your income if you’re an independent student or your parents’ or partner’s income (£1000 of this bursary is non-means tested)
  • Student finance pay £5535 of the tuition fee as a loan paid directly to the university
  • NHS provide a grant for the remaining tuition fee, £3715, paid directly to the university

Now that you know what you’re entitled to by default, you need to know how much each year will cost you:

Rent and bills: The typical rent for a Warwick uni student is around £470/month. This may or may not include bills. If you need to pay for gas and electric bills yourself then that is likely to cost an extra £320 per month between you and your housemates.

Transport: Many students rely on a car to get them to campus and to hospital for placement. It’s worth finding out if you can carshare with other students, which will cut down on the costs. You’ll need to account for the cost of the car itself, petrol, insurance, parking fees for the uni campus (£2.50/day if you are registered with the payment portal), and parking charges for the hospitals where you will attend bedside teaching. These charges can be hefty (for example, five hours at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire will cost £7.80) and they will be reimbursed by the NHS from Year 2, but for Phase 1 you will need to factor this in. Cycling and local buses are also popular among students.

Lifestyle: Save the Student estimates that the average Warwick student spends £317/month on food, drink, eating out, new clothes and takeaways etc.

Unfortunately this means there is a disparity between the income and expenditure for a typical medical student. Below, we've gathered some ideas on how to bridge this gap:

As medical students, we can apply for several different bursaries. While these won’t cover the difference completely, they can provide extra help when needed. Most universities have their own bursary and hardship schemes you can apply for if needed (for Warwick it’s https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/med/study/ugr/mbchb/intake2022/funding/ ), but there are other national schemes you can apply for. These can be found online, it just requires some searching. The following website has a fairly large list for a good start, however it is also good to check in with your local home council to see if they have any educational funds you can apply for: https://rmbf.org/get-help/help-for-medical-students/medical-student-advice-hub/list-of-charitable-trusts/

Many of us depend on a part-time job to make up the difference. A medical degree is demanding, a graduate entry course more so, so taking up a part-time job is a big commitment, but it is feasible. Most students can get by doing only one shift each week, still leaving a day free to relax on the weekend if needed. For medical students there are a few main avenues of work available:

  • Many medical students double up as health care assistants, working bank staff for weekend or evening shifts in one of the local hospitals. It pays minimum wage and the shifts are 8-12h long, but there is bonus pay for weekends and evenings. As bank staff you are able to pick shifts that suit your timetable. HCA work also gives you insight into how wards function, gives you a lot of patient contact time to work on your communication skills etc, and also provides the opportunity to work on your clinical skills by doing ECGs, taking bloods and cannulating patients where possible.
  • Tutoring online is also a popular option. It pays well, meaning you have to put in fewer hours, and can be done exclusively in the evenings you have free. Students tend to be tutors in STEM subjects for both GCSE and A-level. If you know you’re a good teacher and this sounds like the job for you, advertising your medical student credentials may help you get ahead of the pre-existing competition.
  • Unitemps advertises jobs based at Warwick, with contracts ranging from catering and event work to first aiders and admin staff. Unitemps' contracts offer a lot of flexibility, allowing you to find a job that works for you. As these jobs are normally on campus, it is also a reasonably convenient journey for most people.
  • Local pubs and clubs, particularly big chains, always need weekend staff. Typically this will be minimum wage pay, and it will mean sacrificing your Friday and Saturday nights. There is no denying it is demanding work, however this is a good source of guaranteed hours for the most part, and Friday and Saturday nights don’t tend to overlap with university hours. The main perks of bar work include being able to make friends outside of medicine, which can be a welcome break and make for a solid social circle, staff discounts off-shift, and free or heavily discounted food when on shift.

It is absolutely possible to work while studying medicine, however it is important to remember that you’re a medical student first and foremost, and it isn’t worth running yourself into the ground for a part-time job. Find a job that works around your degree, don’t make your degree work around your job.

Budgeting

There are a lot of resources out there but here we’re going to focus on advice that isn’t patronising and actually practical for students! Some advice is:

  • Batch cook. It cuts down on shopping costs, energy costs and time costs for meals. If you make a meal plan for the week you can have tasty, nutritious meals ready to go in minutes each day that can be taken to hospitals etc., so you don’t need to pay for hospital/university food.
  • Use student and NHS discounts. Download UnidaysLink opens in a new window for discounts at restaurants, get a rail card if you use trains a lot, and get a Blue Light card (if you have an NHS email address) as it gives a huge range of discounts for £5 for 2 years! As a medical student you also qualify for a Costco card which can help with bulk buying food and cheaper fuel for your car.
  • Look around for housing when it comes to finding a new place. The average rent mentioned before was £470/month, however you can find some places for less than £300/month if you search enough, more so in Coventry than Leamington Spa, which might be close enough to a hospital/the uni to walk to.
  • Complete an HC1/2 form for free prescriptions and dental care if you’re eligible!
  • During years 2-4 you can claim back travel expenses. This includes bus tickets and fuel used to drive, but it also includes miles cycled. This means cycling in years 2-4 essentially earns you a small amount of money in the long run.
  • Set aside an “expendable income” budget for the month and stick to it.
  • It is important to remember to enjoy yourself too: don’t get so caught up on finances that you stop having a social life completely.

With thanks to Warwick Widening Participation in MedicineLink opens in a new window for putting together this useful advice.