There is a growing number of students who may choose not to continue pursuing further education. The primary reason for this is because of the amount of debt that can accumulate when you must pay for things like accommodation fees and more importantly tuition fees. Student finance exists as a solution to this problem as it helps students to pay to pay for these expenses. Student finance is allocated based on specific criteria. Not everyone will be given the same amount. A larger loan will be given to students who come from low-income households or are living away from their parents.
There are several different courses that are eligible for student finance, and these include a BSc and an integrated master’s degree. Anyone completing these courses are eligible for funding and there is no upper age limit for students applying for student finance. However, this only applies to students completing their first degree. Student finance is generally available for the whole undergraduate degree and another year in case you repeat a year or any other circumstances.
The student finance system can be tricky to wrap your head around. There are many factors that can contribute towards you receiving or not receiving adequate funding. Read on to find out what sort of funding you can receive for your degree.
What is student finance?
Student finance is managed by the Student Loans Company (SLC). It was initially set up by the government to support students with their living costs, which now come under maintenance loans. Almost all UK students will qualify for this but the amount you receive will ultimately come down to your household income.
Check out this article from Think Student to learn more about the eligibility criteria to apply for student finance.
However, student finance now comprises of tuition loans and maintenance loans as well as other additional costs if necessary. For example, if a student has a disability, they may be eligible for disabled students’ allowance (DSA) which will pay for interpreters and special equipment to help you. Click here to find out more on the GOV website.
You are not expected to pay this allowance back. If you have a child but are still in full time higher education, you may be eligible for the childcare grant. The GOV website talks about this in more detail here.
This money will not need to be paid back either.
How many years of student finance can you get?
Student finance is commonly given to undergraduate students to cover their whole degree and an additional year. Most students will choose to carry on their education and complete a master’s degree. However, funding is not given for this as part of student finance. You may be eligible for the postgraduate master’s loan which helps with tuition fees as well as maintenance costs. Click here to check your eligibility on the GOV website.
There are many differences between a postgraduate student loan and an undergraduate student loan. The master’s loan is not based on your household income and instead is paid directly to you. You will also not be getting extra money if you repeat a year of your course. However, your previous student loans from your undergraduate degree can affect your eligibility and you getting this loan. If you are behind in repayments for any loans from the SLC, you will not be deemed eligible.
What are alternative ways to pay for university?
The biggest disadvantage with student loans is having to pay back your loan in addition to interest. There are 4 different repayment plans and how much money you repay depends on what plan you are on. Each plan has a threshold for your income. For plans 1, 2 and 4, you will pay 9% of the money you earn above the threshold.
Unlike these loans, bursaries, scholarships and grants are great ways to support your payments and do not rack in additional debt as they do not have to be paid back. The eligibility criteria of most of these will be dependent on the university or organisation issuing them. They are commonly given for specific courses only.
The main difference between the three choices is what they are based on. Scholarships are commonly given for strong academic achievements or extracurriculars. Bursaries are given based on personal circumstances, usually household income or if you come from a specific area of the UK. Grants are similar to bursaries, but they aren’t given by a university. Usually, charities or trusts will give these.
For a more thorough explanation of the differences between a bursary, scholarship and grant, check out this article from Think Student.