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Mature student? You may qualify for grants or loans
A growing number of older people are now studying at colleges and universities in Britain. However, as the world becomes more complex and specialised, the cost of higher education in many parts of the UK has increased substantially in recent years. More than ever, many students rely heavily on financial support to help towards tuition fees, course material, housing, and other related costs.
The British government has a long-standing excellent reputation for the benefits given to it's people, and many of these are student-specific. Historically, the aptly named Student Loan has been the default way in which students have secured money to help navigate their way into the working world. Yet, depending on exactly where in the UK students choose to study, there are many other niche resources available too.
Other possible benefits
Whilst student loans need to be repaid when earnings reach a threshold, many other types of funding do not; grants, bursaries, scholarships, sponsorships and apprenticeships are all extras which can be applied for. Bear in mind, any extra help can affect the amount of government-backed benefits a recipient can receive.
There's also help available from many local councils, businesses, and certain charities. Often, these types of support grants are specific to the study subject, so won't available to every student.
Here's a look at the most common benefits available:
Tuition Fee Loans
University and college students can apply for a tuition fee loan from the relevant governing body. Tuition fees vary from one university to another, however, the loan is generally sufficient to cover the set amount, and will be paid directly to the university.
Where in the UK?
How much benefit is available?
- Students in England, Northern Ireland and Wales can all apply for help towards paying for their tuition. These costs are paid for by the UK government who work in partnership with the Student Loans Company (SLC), a non-departmental organisation.
- For Scotland, the Student Awards Agency for Scotland work together with the universities and pay the full fee for eligible students; essentially, this is a more in-house process and the reason why there aren't any tuition fees per se.
- The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man also have their own education authorities, and they too offer financial support to help with tuition fees.
Tuition fees in England, Northern Ireland and Wales are higher than other parts of the UK, typically costing about £9000 per year for full-time students. For the academic year 2017 to 2018, students can receive up to £9250.
For everywhere else, naturally, the support available is in-line with the fees set by the universities.
Student finance eligibility criteria
All students are means-tested for eligibility, regardless of where they choose to study in the UK. Each student's situation will differ slightly too, so there is no one set way to gauge who will or won't receive support. Students can check by using an eligibility calculator available from the relevant bodies before they start an application, or even before they decide where to study.
How to apply
Students can usually start their application online. For full details and the terms and conditions, please see the following links:
Maintenance allowance and extra funding.
Each part of the UK also offers financial support to help towards the cost of housing, course material, and things like travel costs. Students should follow the links provided above and apply for these at the same time as their tuition fee application. Eligible students can expect to receive in the circa of £2,500. How to apply, eligibility criteria, and how much funding is available will be assessed on an individual basis. Factors to note will include household incomes, whether a student is part or full-time, a new student, or a continuing one. In most cases, there's a benefit available for each situation.
Please note that over 60s are NOT eligible for Maintenance Allowance.
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