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A quick guide to student funding

In 2006, the whole student funding system got an almighty kick up the posterior. If someone who went to university ten, five or even three years ago starts trying to explain to you how the whole funding system works, tune out for a while. It’s all changed. Forget fixed tuition fees, mortgage-style loans, awards from the LEA – all that stuff and more.

This isn’t a history site – Push is here to tell it like it is. The present picture is complicated enough, without us bringing in a load of stuff that’s no longer relevant – at least not to new students.

The next few sections will guide you, gently, through the perilous waters of the funding system.

In a nutshell if you’re from England, you’ll have to pay some tuition fees – a few thousand pounds a year – to the university, but you’ll also get a loan to cover them, which you’ll repay after you graduate and earn above a certain amount. This means you won’t actually have to pay anything to go to university until after you’ve left.

You’ll also be able to borrow some money – another student loan – to cover your living expenses while you’re studying. This cash is meant to go on your rent, food, travel – you name it – while you’re doing your degree. You’ll also have to repay this after you’ve left university and are – hopefully – getting a regular paycheck.

Depending on how much money your parents earn, you might also get a grant – this is a lump of money, like a loan, except you don’t have to pay it back. Ever. Yippee. If your parents earn a lot of money, however, they’ll probably be expected to give you some money.

All universities charging full tuition fees have to give students, who receive the full maintenance grant, an institutional bursary too. This is extra money that students don't have to pay back though sometimes they can only spend it on specific things.

Apart from the bank of mum and dad, there are a few other ways of getting money – old–school bursaries from the university, bank overdrafts and what have you, which Push will also come on to later.

It’s not quite the same all around the country – arrangements for Scotland are a bit different and there are a few tweaks to students in Wales or Northern Ireland. There are also special provisions for other groups, such as those with children and those with disabilities. Push will try to mention these where relevant and there’s also a whole section devoted to how things work for non-English, non-traditional people of all varieties.

Doesn’t sound too difficult, does it? See, we told you we’d take you through it gently. There’s also a jargon jungle if things start to sound like a little known form of Elvish.

Last updated on: 09 April 2009

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