WHILE going to university is great for many reasons, there is no getting away from the fact that it can cost quite a lot of money.
Not only do you need to finance your education, but you also need to ensure you have enough money to live on. Currently, universities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland can charge up to £9,250 a year for tuition to a student living in England.
Tuition fee loans are available as well as maintenance loans to help with living costs. Tuition fee loans are paid directly to the university. Interest is charged on the loan from the day you take it out. Maintenance loans can be applied for at the same time, lending you money at the start of each term and are re-paid in the same way as tuition fee loans. How much you receive depends on your household income and other factors such as where you study, how long for and where you are going to be living.
When you are studying, the interest on your loan is the UK Retail Price Index (RPI) plus three per cent. After you graduate, the rate depends on how much you earn. You will not have to start paying your loans back until you are earning above the repayment threshold.
The Student Loans Company uses your National Insurance number to keep track of your income. They will instruct HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to notify your employer when you start working, and payments will be deducted from your taxable earnings. If your income falls below the starting threshold within a certain month, there won’t be a repayment deduction made for that month. Once the loan is paid off in full, HMRC notifies your employer and the repayments stop.
The student finance application process normally opens in February so it’s recommended that you apply for funding in plenty of time to ensure your money is in place for the start of term. You don’t have to have a confirmed place at university before you apply and it’s advised that you should aim to apply for your loan by May 31 if your course starts between August 1 and December 31. The final deadline for funding is nine months after the start of the academic year for your course.
Additional financial support is available for students on a low income, students with children or dependent adults, disabled students, medical, social work and teacher training students and students studying abroad.
As soon as you have an offer for a place through UCAS, you can talk to the banks about opening an account. The advantage of this is that student bank accounts normally have an interest-free overdraft facility which is useful if you accidentally overspend.
This will usually be activated once your first instalment of loan goes in.
There are websites that will allow you to compare the different student bank accounts on offer as there are often other perks such as railcards offered.
Make sure to take one or two forms of photo ID such as a passport or driver’s licence along to the bank with you along with proof of address, such as a bank statement, and your offer letter from UCAS.