Studying for a degree is not only a big life decision, it’s also a serious financial commitment too. Long gone are the days of free higher education and generous grants. Tuition fees and the rising cost of student living means you have to make sure your student finance loan or other funding is in place long before you first set foot in a lecture hall.
Fortunately, there are a number of different options open to you to either help fund the cost of your degree or reduce the overall cost – some you may already know about, others you might not have heard of but are definitely worth considering.
Tuition Fee Loan
The average tuition fees hover around £9,000 a year although with GSM London they are lower, from £6,000 a year. If you’re a UK/EU student you can apply for a student finance loan from the Student Loan Company (SLC) which will cover your tuition fees. If you’re studying full-time and are eligible, you can also apply for a maintenance loan which will go towards your living expenses. You can apply here.
There are some important things to remember if you do plan to apply for loan:
- Apply early – Make sure you apply for student finance in good time as soon as you know you have a place and are eligible for a loan. It can take a little while to process the applications and you don’t want the worry of starting a course and NOT knowing whether you have the funds in place. Applications to the SLC must be made before the start of term.
- Course registration – If you’re an SLC-funded student you won’t be allowed to complete registration with GSM London until you have shown evidence that you’ve completed your SLC application.
- Eligibility – SLC will provide funding for a first undergraduate degree for the duration of study plus one year. If you’ve already done an undergraduate degree elsewhere you might not be eligible for further funding.
- Amount of loan – The maximum loan for each year you can receive from the SLC if you’re studying at GSM London is £6,000. You are liable for any fees over and above that amount.
- Repayment – You only start repaying the loan once you earn over £25,000 a year at a rate of 9% on any earnings above £25,000.
- Maintenance Loan – This loan, which is again provided by the SLC, is to help with your living costs while studying and is based on your household income. You don’t have to repay the loan until after you graduate and are earning over £25,000. As with the tuition fee loan, it’s repaid at a rate of 9% on earnings over £25,000.
Self-funding & working part-time
If you’re ineligible for student loans or maintenance loans you may have to self-fund your degree. If you’ve already been working you might have savings you could use or family who could help with the costs. Alternatively, working part-time alongside your studies may be an option provided you can fit it around your coursework and lectures.
Another possibility is a private bank loan, however the terms are not nearly as favourable as those from the SLC and you will most likely be expected to start repaying the loan straight away, which could be difficult unless you have an alternative source of income. You’ll also need a healthy credit score to get a personal loan and it may be difficult as a student with little or no income.
Student accounts with 0% overdraft
As a student you will be eligible to apply for a student bank account with one of the many major UK banks. Some banks will give you up to £3,000 interest free although this may be tiered so you have access to a certain amount in your first year with increases in your second and third year.
However, be wary of applying for the maximum amount just because you can. You may not need an overdraft facility if you budget well and it’s still money that has to be paid back at some point so only apply for it and use it if you really need to.
Fast track degrees
Another option is an accelerated degree course. The degree is done over two years rather than three so you only have two years’ worth of fees and living expenses to worry about although yearly tuition fees are a little higher than the normal three year courses and you will have to fund any additional fees yourself. However, the overall cost is still less than that of a traditional three-year course and you will be finished and able to start your career a year earlier than other students.
The Scholarship Hub
The Scholarship Hub is a great resource which lists all the scholarships, grants and bursaries open to UK and EU students. The Hub is also very keen on opening up opportunities to students of all backgrounds looking to study at any institution. You can use their Find a Scholarship section to have a look and see what is available for which courses.
Uni Grants UK
Uni Grants UK gives you loads of advice about preparing financially for university as well as showing a range of student funding options available to you.
Turn2us helps individuals in financial need to access benefits, charitable grants and other financial help. Part of the registered charity Elizabeth Finn Care, it has information on more than 3,000 charitable funds which you can find out about through their Grant Search database.
If you need advice on how to fund your degree GSM London’s Finance Team is on hand to help you. Call us on 020 8003 3803 for more information.