Guide to higher education - 2012
- Published on 05 May 2011
- Written by Mrs M Rodd
This extensive article brings together sound, up-to-date advice from a wide range of sources.
It's a great reference for anyone considering higher education and will help potential students appreciate the choices available.
Give yourself the best chance of getting your ideal place in higher education.
STUDENT FINANCE FROM 2012
Under the new arrangements it will be study now and pay later with repayments linked to graduate earnings, not loan amount.
As you are probably aware, the Government is changing the arrangements for tuition fees and student finance from 2012 entry. Fortunately, there is no requirement for students to pay tuition fees up-front or while studying. At time of writing (February 2011) the full details were not known but here are the key points:
From 2012, universities will be able to charge £6,000 per year in tuition fees; some will be allowed to charge up to £9,000, as long as they meet strict criteria to ensure all students can access their courses, regardless of their family income. Individual universities will publicise their fees on their websites in good time for students to make informed decisions about their UCAS course choices.
Tuition Fee Loans
As under the current system, students will be able to pay their tuition fees after graduation by taking out a Tuition Fee Loan from Student Finance England, who pay the fees direct to the university. These loans are available to all, irrespective of household income.
Responsibility for paying fees rests with the student, not with parents.
This is available to all eligible full-time students and is the main source of cash for living expenses, again from Student Finance England. The amount of student can borrow is limited. Figures for 2012 entry were not available at time of writing.
Repaying the Loans
Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans are combined and repayments will start the April after graduation but only if earnings are above £21,000 per year. Repayments are taken out through the tax system so the whole process is very simple: there's no need to set up direct debits.
The most important point is that repayments are related to income, not the actual amount of debt: graduates will pay nine per cent of their income above £21,000. As an example, someone earning £21,500 – currently the salary of a newly-qualified teacher – would initially make repayments of just £4 per month. The monthly repayment would increase to £23 for someone earning £24,000 per year; £30 on a salary of £23,000; £45 on £27,000; and £68 on £30,000. If the graduate were to stop earning over £21,000 the repayments would stop. Any debt outstanding after 30 years will be written-off.
The rate of interest charged will vary. For graduates earning below £21,000, interest will be applied at the rate of inflation. Graduates earning between £21,000 and £41,000 will be charged interest on a sliding scale up to a maximum of inflation plus 3 per cent. It is worth noting that parents are not responsible for repaying their child's Student Loan debt.
Students from families with incomes of up to £25,000 will be entitled to a non-repayable maintenance grant of up to £3,250 and those from families with incomes up to £42,000 will be entitled to a partial grant. An assessment of the family income will be made well before going to university so that you know in advance what you will be entitled to.
National Scholarship Programme
Students from lower income families will be able to benefit from a new £150m National Scholarship Programme. At time of writing, the details were yet to be finalised, but the crucial point is that scholarships do not have to be repaid.
As well as this support, other sources of income could also be very useful:
Student bank accounts
These usually include an interest-free overdraft facility. Do some research to find the best overall deal, not just the best freebie.
Earnings from part-time and vacation work
Many students work part-time and in the holidays, but always check with your academic department regarding the maximum number of hours a week you should work.
Some employers actually pay students to go to university, so sponsorships are well worth applying for. Careers teachers can advise on these.
Full details of the arrangements for 2012 entry will be released by the Government and universities later in 2011/12. Keep up to date by visiting:
www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance or www.bis.gov.uk
Students can apply on-line for all forms of Government student finance from the spring of the year they go to university. Schools and colleges generally have details and will advise. An assessment of household income will determine entitlement to financial support such as the Maintenance Grant.
Students living in England apply for financial support through www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance
Please note that the arrangements described here apply to students living in England, choosing to study at an English university. Arrangements for students domiciled in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and other EU countries, and for students living in England but studying in these countries, differ.
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