Got a question about this, so thought I’d do a proper post.

Cost
So the first issue is the cost. Tuition seems to be about £10k, give or take. (See my post on tuition fees and also my work on tuition fees per school.) Our annual living expense budget is about £25k/yr–housing, food, limited travel, etc.–based on a family of 4.  We’ve not budgeted to go home over our time here. We found that we spent more settling in than expected, so I’ve gone with a conservative estimate to help one be realistic. That produces a total 3 year cost of ~£90k-100k or ~$160k-180k (see my post on exchange rates). Don’t let this scare you off, but it is real money.

Financing It
Here are the options that I’ve seen, most with some combination:

  • Borrowing money–student loans and from family.
  • Spouse working. It seems that ~£15-20k/yr is a basic full-time salary. If one has other skills, etc., it would be more. Most seem to start out using a temp agency. (Spouses can work full-time on a dependant-of-a-student visa.)
  • Working yourself. Most don’t have a regular job, but it’s common in the 2nd or 3rd year to tutor and get paid. A friend in Aberdeen made ~£5k/yr on a bursary (part scholarship, part wages) doing this.  At Durham bursaries (scholarships) are separate from teaching.  For a standard TA position for a course you’d get about £300/yr.  (A student can work up to 20 hrs during term and full-time off term, on or off campus.)
  • Donations. Quite a few people solicit donations from family, churches, etc. to help fund their studies. I know a few who are doing ministry here in one form or another, and have worked out for peoples’ donations to be tax deductible in the states.
  • Scholarships. Unfortunately the UK gov’t fazed out ORS, and it seems that about one or two new students get the  Durham Doctoral Fellowship, so competition is fairly tight.  John Barclay offered these criteria for a strong fellowship (and admittance) application.  Durham also offers a handful of £1k-£2k scholarships that are decided upon by application in October for that current year.
  • Spending savings. N.B. I know at least one couple here whose visa initially got delayed because they couldn’t show adequate funds to the UK gov’t. They had to secure a letter of intent from a family member that they would loan them money. So it’s wise to send off the visa application early in case there are any snags like that that need to be ironed out.