AARON: Hello. Pardon me, but are you the person to ask regarding financial aid?
FINANCIAL AID OFFICER: I should be able to assist you. I’m Maddie Hayes, one of the financial aid officers here at Bristol University.
AARON: Well, Miss Hayes…um….I’m very interested in studying at Bristol, but I can’t afford to pay for school all by myself. I need financial aid of some sort if I’m going to be able to attend.
FINANCIAL AID OFFICER: Well, I can certainly understand your predicament. I’m here to help. Let me start out by asking this: are you looking to do undergraduate work, or would you like to pursue a postgraduate degree?
AARON: I’ve already completed my undergrad. I’d like to study philosophy.
FINANCIAL AID OFFICER: OK. Well, you might not realize this, but here in the UK there are a few different options depending upon whether or not you want to get a master’s degree or if you want to work on a PhD.
AARON: Well, I haven’t decided yet, to be honest. I want to get a PhD eventually, but I’m not sure if I want to do it right away, or if I just want to get a master’s degree now and then hold off on the PhD until later. What are the differences in terms of the financial assistance I can receive?
FINANCIAL AID OFFICER: Well, at least here at Bristol University, the options for those pursuing a terminal master’s are a lot more limited. Are you familiar with the studentship program we offer?
AARON: The phrase rings a bell, but I don’t exactly know what it means.
FINANCIAL AID OFFICER: OK. So, there are a few forms of financial assistance that are available to postgraduates, and the studentship program is the one sponsored by the university. For the next academic year….I assume that’s when you plan on starting…we’re offering ten of them. Only one is for terminal master’s students, though. The rest are for doctoral students.
AARON: And any student can apply for these?
FINANCIAL AID OFFICER: Well, yes…for the master’s one. That’s what we call an “open studentship,” which means students pursuing any field are eligible. Whoever wins the award gets their full tuition and fees paid for during the year that they’d be studying.
AARON: But it’s different for PhD students?
FINANCIAL AID OFFICER: Students who want to get a PhD…the ones who win one of our “doctoral studentships”…they get free tuition and don’t have to pay fees, so that part’s the same. But the nine studentships we have for them are limited to certain fields. There’s one for archaeology, one for music, another for drama, one for history…and you said you want to study philosophy, right? Well, we offer one for prospective philosophy students as well.
AARON: Hmmm…this is making me strongly consider trying to enrol in a doctoral program then.
FINANCIAL AID OFFICER: Also, you should keep in mind that there are a few other options for financial assistance beyond what we’ve discussed. For instance, public sector studentships…the Bristol Zoo offers their own studentship for zoology PhD students, and there’s one that’s given out for art students who agree to study a specific era of painting and sculpture by the Tate Modern…you know, the big museum in London.
AARON: And what about, you know, for my field?
FINANCIAL AID OFFICER: Now that I think of it, I want to say the Imperial War Museum offers one specifically for philosophy students. You have to focus on the philosophy of war, though…ethical issues related to battle, things like that. I’m not sure if that interests you at all…
AARON: Well, I’m very interested in applied ethics, but you know, I’ve never looked at how that relates to things like fighting and war.
FINANCIAL AID OFFICER: Well, it’s an option. And you could always apply for an alumni scholarship. I know the Bristol University Alumni Foundation always gives away one or two full awards to both masters and PhD students. They usually cover a year’s worth of classes. There are numerous private scholarships out there as well. Students can access them in the financial aid database.
AARON: Wow. I came in here worried about how I’d end up paying for school, but you’ve really put my mind at ease.
FINANCIAL AID OFFICER: None of these options are guaranteed! I want you to be realistic about things – not every student gets financial aid. Most of them have to pay 100 per cent of their fees out of pocket. However, if you’re willing to write lots of essays and really put forth an effort, there’s a good chance you can find some financial help.
AARON: Well, I’ll definitely try. Thanks for your help!