When the email first came through that I’d been offered a place on Year Here, like many potential Fellows, I wondered how I would go a year without a full time salary. Eight months into the programme, and a week before I attempt to launch my own venture, I’m so glad that I decided to do it. In this blog, I want to tell you how I managed the financial side of things.
The first thing to say is that Year Here doesn’t charge a tuition fee, despite offering a learning experience that I believe most traditional fee paying Master’s programmes would be hard pressed to beat, especially in terms of Fellows’ employability after the programme.
Before Year Here I was working part-time in a restaurant while volunteering at a nearby international development charity. I had aspirations to commit myself to a social impact career but I didn’t know where I’d fit or how I’d get there. Year Here has already shown me what’s possible, equipping me with an array of personal and professional tools for whatever’s next – whether it’s running my own thing or working for another fast-growing social enterprise.
When I was offered a place, I had £2,000 in savings. The guys at Year Here recommended that I look into Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL) and the EdAid crowdfunding platform. The PCDL is available in different amounts from most banks – I got my £10,000 loan from The Coop – but you have to be a UK citizen and have a place on a recognised course. You’ll find that Year Here is on the list of registered educational providers for the PCDL alongside a bunch of traditional universities. With EdAid, Year Here offer to match the first £1,000 raised, which was a fantastic incentive to gather £1,000 on the platform.
This all meant that, as long as I managed to crowdfund £1,000, I would have £14,000 to live on in London for the ten-month duration of the course.
The processes for applying for both were incredibly simple and straightforward. I got my PCDL within a week. I launched my EdAid page in the same week and set to work on making it attractive to potential funders. I made several blog-style updates, posted a video to go alongside it, and posted the page regularly on Facebook and Twitter. With a bit of hustle, I had all the money I needed for the ten months in London while only needing to pay about £2,500 in interest in the five years after the programme.
Living in London on £14,000 across the ten months has been more than doable. With my rent at £625 per month, I’m left with around £650 per month, or little over £150 per week to live off. This is made more manageable by the fact that travel costs are expensed through the first two phases on the programme and lunch is paid for during the first phase of the programme (also the longest of the three at five months).
Every Fellow makes the programme work for them in different ways. Some are given bursaries by the programme (which can be up to £5,000) and connected to partners like Dot Dot Dot who provide discounted accommodation. Some live with their parents. Lots are transitioning from decently-paid jobs and have savings to sustain them. Most Fellows do some form of part-time work, using their skills to make money on the side – whether that be in photography, like my coursemate Benoît, or graphic design, like Ayshah.
There are tonnes of ways to make it work if you’re committed to what the course asks of you. I hope what my story shows is that it is possible to enjoy the benefits of the Year Here programme without having to worry about running out of money or getting into substantial debt after the course ends.
The PCDL is repaid over a maximum of five years and has an interest rate of 9.9%. Find out more at gov.uk/career-development-loans
EdAid’s loan is interest free in real terms; it rises with inflation only. Find out more at edaid.com/costcomparison
Year Here is open for 2019 applications. Apply now