The average cost of a degree is more than £17,500, as revealed by Push.co.uk who recently conducted the UK’s largest ever survey of student finance. However it’s worthwhile to remember that this is the average figure and there can be considerable variation in costs from university to university and from city to city- some places are cheaper to study in than others.
Higher education students in England and Wales have to pay for their course in the form of fees. Students are entitled to help with these fees through students loans, and the money only has to be repaid once their studies are complete and the student has a sufficient level of income. To be eligible for a loan you must have been resident in the UK for at least three years before starting your course. If you have taken another higher education course before, you will need to contact your local authority to see if you are eligible for funding.
The government subsidises the cost of courses through direct payments to the university for each student who enrols with them. In addition universities in the UK are allowed to charge students a further contribution towards the cost. These are what have become known as ‘top-up fees’. Currently universities are allowed to charge up to £3,145 a year. The top-up fees charged may well vary between courses as well as universities. This also applies to people undertaking a higher education course at a college rather than a university.
Students are able to apply for a student loan to cover the amount that your university or college will charge you. However the loan is not paid back while studying: it is repaid once a student has graduated and their earnings have reached a certain threshold. This threshold is currently set at £15,000 – or £15,000 profit if you are self-employed. To find out in more detail how the student loan is repaid visit www.direct.gov.uk and www.aimhigher.ac.uk.
Part-time students can apply for fee grants (to help with tuition fees) and course grants (for books and travel etc.). The size of these grants will depend on household income, whether the applicant has any dependents and the intensity of the course – a part-time course taking twice as long as a full-time course has an intensity of 50%. These grants do not count as income when benefit entitlement is being calculated. Disabled students can also apply for the Disabled Students Allowance which does not depend on household income.
The structure differs slightly across the different countries of the UK. Most importantly top-up fees do not apply right across the UK, for example they are not charged in Scotland where there are no tuition fees for Scottish students and there is a fixed rate fee for students from the rest of the UK.
The National Union of Students has created a guide of the yearly cost of living for a student per year but remember that these figures depend on your lifestyle. Some of the costs you will need to take into consideration include:
Below are just a few more ideas that can help your money go further.
Credit Action produces a ‘Student Moneymanual’ with lots of information on managing your money as a student.
The Student Loans Company has an excellent website. There are also calculators to find out how much loan you would qualify for, and to tell you about repayments you will have to make.
Support 4 Learning runs a website with all you need to know about student loans and government and other grants for higher education, with many links to relevant sites. It also talks about student bank overdrafts.
Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. This government department has a section of its website devoted to help and support for students:
To find out more about how the student loan works and how it is repaid visit either :
Department for Education and Skills. This government department has a section of its website devoted to help and support for students:
To find out about changes or further information relating to the student finance system, take a look at the DFES’s guide to financial support for higher education students in 2006/2007, here.
National Union of Students. This site has useful support information, including discounts available to union members.
EntitledTo provides free calculators to help you work out your entitlement to benefits and tax credits.