While exploring the possibility of attending university, most will wonder how they will cover the cost of attendance. Financial aid is available in the form of loans, grants, scholarships, and bursaries. The types of financial aid a student may receive will determine the monetary amount as well as the terms of repayment. Because grants and bursaries are determinate on income, not everyone is likely to qualify for these types of funding. The income caps for student loans are considerably higher than those of grants, and are therefore the most popular source for funding higher education. The following article will illustrate the types of loans available to full and part-time students, as well as help explain how scholarships are awarded.
There are two types of student loans available. Students should apply for both of these loans upon finishing the application for entrance into their chosen university programme:
- Tuition Fees Loan: This type of loan finances the full amount of tuition fees for full-time students.
- Maintenance Loan: This is an income-assessed loan to finance living expenses.
The Tuition Fess Loan has no income assessment, nor does it have any age restrictions. This loan will be paid directly to the university the student attends, and does not require any payments while attending university. The repayment of the Tuition Fees Loan will become effective when the student has both left university and is also employed and earning a salary greater than £15,000 per year.
The Maintenance Loan is a supplementary loan based on an income assessment. The purpose of this loan is to provide assistance in paying for the cost of living. This loan is for students who do not qualify for federal grants, yet demonstrate financial need. Like the Tuition Fees Loan, this loan will not require payments while attending university. Also, the repayment of this loan does not begin until the student has left university and is earning a salary greater than £15,000 per year.
The amount of these student loans will depend on the programme of study, but generally dispersed amounts are as follows:
- Tuition Fees Loan: A student will receive up to £3,145 for courses begun in the 2008/2009-school term. These amounts are based on full-time enrolment.
- Maintenance Loan: A student will receive up to £6,475 for 2008/2009 terms; this amount is based on each individual income assessment. These amounts are based on full-time enrolment.
Additionally, there is a Career Development Loan available to help those pay for work-related education.
- Career Development Loan: Payback for a Career Development Loan begins 1 month following completion of programme. It will help pay for up to 2 years of education, or potentially 3 years if course-work includes 1 year of relevant work experience.
Scholarships are another resource to utilise when financing the cost of higher education. Scholarship information is available at the office of financial services at each university, or additionally on the financial aid website. Please visit these offices specific to your institution for a complete list of scholarships that are available, such as the Socrates-Erasmus Programme. This programme distributes funds to qualified students who are wishing to complete some of, or their entire, university programme abroad.
Scholarships are typically merit based rather than income-based; however, some may be targeted toward those with exceptional achievement despite economic hardship. Scholarships will also differ greatly in the amount of money a student will receive. Some scholarships may cover the cost of books, while others may cover the complete cost of attendance.
Students are encouraged to apply for multiple types of financial aid including loans and scholarships. Student loans should be applied for as soon as the student selects their programme of study. Typically, the deadlines for scholarships will differ per scholarship, but one should begin researching scholarship options immediately as well. Depending on the course of study, as well as the personal financial situation, the student may be eligible for additional types of aid. Please see the article on Need Based Financial Aid to learn more about additional ways to finance higher education.
Sources: Directgov, “The Official Government Website for Citizens,” Copyright 2005, visited 09/02/08. http://www.direct.gov.uk