University Fees and Loans
Sat 04 Apr 2015

By Catriona Poon

Student finance often seems horrifyingly and daunting. Questions such as ‘How will I manage to pay my university fees?’, ‘Am I going to spend the rest of my life in debt?’ arise and there never seems to be a concrete answer; hopefully this post will answer the most troubling questions.

When applying to university, there are three main things that the Student Finance Package includes: Tuition Fee Loan, Maintenance Loan, and Maintenance Grant. The Tuition Fee Loan pays for your actual course, and your Maintenance Loans and Grants help with the cost of living – this includes accommodation, bills, and books for your courses. The difference between a loan and a grant is that you must pay back the loans, but you do not need to pay back a grant.

Most universities now charge the maximum amount of £9,000. The NUS estimated that home students in London (studying at an undergraduate level) could potentially earn over £20,000 from loans and funding, and just under £19,000 for students in the rest of England.

Many disregard university due to the fear of living their life in debt, though it should be noted that the horror of student debt is overhyped. Student loans are designed with special features such as attractive interest rates, and the ability to get the loan regardless of your income or credit history. Since 2012, most students are eligible to borrow up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees, and £7,751 in maintenance costs, totalling to over £50,000 if somebody were to take the maximum loan for a three year course. Also, maintenance grants (which are based on your household income, nor do they have to be repaid) may be available. Although, students are welcome to borrow as little and as much as they would like, up to that maximum amount. How much you pay back depends on how much you earn – you do not start repaying until you earn over £21,000 a year, and don’t worry, you don’t have to keep track of how it is paid, as the Student Loans Company is in charge of this.

There are also a plethora of UK scholarships and bursaries to apply for offered by the government, individual universities, and various charities and organisations. The difference between a bursary and a scholarship is that a bursary is usually based on financial need, whereas scholarships are competitive, and usually require you to apply for them - the Education UK website is a good starting point for more information on scholarships you can access.