Student finance: loans, schemes and bursaries
In mid-August – the 13th to be precise – school leavers will find out how well they performed in their A-level exams; furthermore they will discover what university they will be attending in the Autumn.
Now, however, it’s all about the revision – and the small matter of making sure that you have all the elements of your university application in place, including student finance.
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At the most basic level, the Government will provide two different loans to students, which will need to be paid back. The loan for tuition fees is paid annually, directly to the university, and can be up to £9,000 per year.
The second, the maintenance loan, is intended to help towards living costs, including accommodation, and is paid into student bank accounts at the start of term.
The Government also offers a maintenance grant and, from September 2015, this can be anything up to £3,387 per year. Whether students are entitled to this depends on household income.
It is useful to note that any money given as a scholarship, grant or bursary does not have to be paid back; however, there may be clauses as to how the money is spent or certain conditions attached to them.
Other more situation-specific bursaries have also been set up by the Government to aid full time students; these vary from helping out with travel expenses abroad to disability grants.
If students are studying abroad as a part of their course there are different grants set up to help out with travel expenses. There are rules on eligibility and the amount awarded to students does vary, however a travel grant does not need to paid back.
If a student has a disability they may be entitled to the Disabled Student Allowance. This support depends entirely on the individual and not on household income. Anyone who suffers with a long term condition, a mental health condition or a specific learning difficulty (such as dyslexia) can apply for it.
Any full time students with children can apply for a Child Care Grant to help out with childcare costs, although the amount is dependant on how many children and their ages. From 2015 to 2016, the maximum grant for one child is £155.24 per week and for two or more is £266.15; the money is split into three instalments over the academic year.
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Another option for parents with dependant children is a Parents’ Learning Allowance, which aims to help with learning costs and can be put towards books, study materials and travel. From 2015 to 2016, full time students can get up to £1,573 a year. This does not have to be paid back and is paid on top of other student finances.
Additionally, if full time students have an adult who depends on them there is an Adult Dependants’ Grant, set up to assist with living costs. The maximum amount that can be offered is £2,757 but there are guidelines as to who is eligible to receive this money.
Further to Government support, many universities also have their own schemes. Newcastle University, for example, has the Promise Scholarship, and anyone who is a UK or EU student, from a low income background, can be considered. The scholarship can be up to £9,000 per year.
Generally, with means tested bursaries awarded by universities you won’t need to apply. The university will receive details about whether you have been awarded a maintenance grant by the Government, and will make a judgement using this information.
However, if you are predicted good grades at A-level, you may also be entitled to a scholarship.
For applicants of Newman University, Birmingham, students with BBB grades – or better – could be contenders for their Academic Achievement Scholarships, which offer students £10,000 over three years, as long as they put Newman as their firm choice on Ucas Track.
Another example shows Surrey University offering students a £2,000 cash award for the first year of study, on top of a membership to the campus’ Sports Park, if they achieve 3 A*s at A-level.
Some courses even offer students additional financial help depending on what subject they are studying. For instance, if it is a medicine, nursing, or healthcare course, students could be eligible for an NHS Bursary. This is an annual payment to help out with study and living costs.
Charities and foundations often provide small amounts of money to graduates who meet specific criteria.For example, the Merchant Navy Education Foundation is a charity set up to help children of merchant navy, fishing and RNLI seafaring families.
Money offered by charities is unlikely to be substantial, but if you are worried about the cost of buying text books, if you fit the criteria, it could certainly help.
Visit Turn2us for more information about scholarships available. The online service matches prospective students to grants they could be eligible for. Additionally, the Guide to Educational Grants contains details of around 1,500 trusts, which hand out around £54 million a year – part of which covers undergraduate degrees.
With tuition fees at £9,000 per year, it is worth looking into what loans, grants and scholarships you could be entitled to.