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Financial issues of uni

Starry nightStarry night Posts: 674 Incredible Poster
We are now discussing our uni options in sixth form. So far, I have avoided this conversation with my parents. I want to live away from home. My mum is disbaled and we are on benefits. But, there is a possibilty that I could go to Oxford or Cambridge, I've had A's in all of my subjects so far. Of course, there is only a small chance. But nevertheless, I want to go and live away but I don't know how I can do it.
Is it possible? What are your experiences of it? Should I still go? How much debt did you have after uni? Is living away worth it?


  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Don't be put off by the talk of "massive debt", for starters. It's a bit of a myth. Yes, you will owe money to the Student Loans Company, but you only have to pay it back when you're earning more than £21,000. Most people will never have to pay back everything they borrow, think of it more as a tax than anything else. It comes straight out of your pay packet and you won't even notice it.

    Secondly, don't be put off applying to the top level universities. The top class universities are desperate to attract talented students from less traditional backgrounds; in university jargon this is "widening participation". As part of the deal in charging high tuition fees they have to target bursaries and scholarships at people from low income backgrounds and people with disabilities. I work in a students union for a top level university (I don't want to say which one) and our bursary next year will be up to £3000 a year for people who come from low income families.

    If you have a read of this website: http://www.nasma.org.uk/students/ in addition to the information on UCAS and DirectGov, you'll have a better idea of what it costs. Speak with admissions or the student union in universities you're looking at applying to, they'll be able to tell you what financial packages are on offer.

    If you're getting the necessary grades, please don't be put off applying to a top level university because of finances. It's perfectly possible to succeed from your background at the very best universities in the country, apply and see where you go!
  • Starry nightStarry night Posts: 674 Incredible Poster
    Thanks for your reply. The problem isn't tuition fees, because I live in Wales that will be a little easier for me. The problem is living expenses. Of course, I could get a job, but I am not going to rely on that idea. I don't mind living with not too much money, especially if I went to Oxford or Sussex or whatever, its just the debt afterwards, not being able to find a flat I can afford, not being able to find a job. Also, I want to be a teacher so I will have to do another year on top of my degree.
    At the heart of it, I don't want to be pulled down with no job, massive debt and my parents saying "I told you so."
    What help is there with living expenses? That's the thing that's worrying me, and what my parents are going to put up the most fight about.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    The student finance package comes in three parts - Tuition fee loan, Maintainance loan and maintainance grant. You only pay back the loans and not the grant. Its reasonably ok to get by living on just the maintainance loan & grant, without a job.

    Halls will be affordable, don't worry about the debt, its not like a normal bank loan at all!

    If you're over 18, you can do what the hell you like! Your parents don't really come into it, its your life!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You get loans and grants for your living costs in addition to the tuition fee loan. A loan is a loan which you have to repay but a grant you don't. How much will depend on the rules that apply in Wales, there's a student support calculator at studentfinancewales.co.uk.

    The bursary at my university would be £3000 a year for someone in your situation. This either reduces your college bill by £3000 (all our first year undergraduates live in college halls) or, in later years, is paid as a cash sum of £1000 in each term. On top of that we have a hardship fund (called the Access to Learning Fund- all universities have one) to help people in financial difficulty.

    Bear in mind that the student support package is more generous when you live away from home and that your mum's income won't change with your student support.

    Most people can afford to come to university. Please don't let finances stop you or affect your choices as to which universities you apply to. My university is in an expensive city for housing but you can comfortably live on about £8000-£9000 a year.

    Edited to add: For someone in your situation, Oxford would offer a £3000 bursary in addition to a £5000 Assembly Grant and £1900 Assembly loan. This would give you a student support income for the year of just short of £10,000. http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate_courses/student_funding/welsh_students.html
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    There are scholarships too. These are non-income based and are sometimes based on academic achievements.
  • Starry nightStarry night Posts: 674 Incredible Poster
    Thank goodness for that.
    My parents have made it sound like a sort of doomsday situation. It was getting quite depressing that I was working really hard for my A-Levels but knowing that I wouldn't be able to go to a uni I wnated becuase of money.
    Sounds like it isn't as bad as what I thought. The future looks a little brighter. I'll talk to my parents armed with your information.
    Thankyou!! :hyper::yippe::heart:
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Don't let anything get in the way of doing what you want to do, especially when it comes to money.
    I guess you could say I'm from the bottom of the food chain with literally no income at all and still managed to get to uni and now in my final year living in a student house, yeah you will have loans to pay off and it may seem like a massive amount at the time, but as everyone else has already said, it's well worth it.
    Aaaand if you find yourself struggling for money when it comes to it, you can always apply for a hardship fund if it gets too much, that's if you'll need it at all, there will always be financial support from somewhere.

    I say go for it and good luck! :d
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm glad you feel a bit better. Uni costs money but it is money you are given, either from student support or from the university itself. Your background won't stop you coming to my university, which is Russell Group, andI know my colleagues at both Oxford and Cambridge are lovely too!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I don't mind living with not too much money, especially if I went to Oxford or Sussex or whatever, its just the debt afterwards, not being able to find a flat I can afford, not being able to find a job.

    I wouldn't base a decision about the rest of your life on the current economic situation. Yes, there are plenty of graduates who are currently struggling for work, but is that still going to be true in 3 years time when you're coming to the end of your degree? Chances are that there will actually be less competition for graduate jobs then, because so many people are deciding against higher education atm. And while there are more graduates than graduate jobs, I'm guessing it's not the students from Oxford and Cambridge that are missing out.

    But for anyone concerned about the rise in tuition fees, it's worth pointing out that there are now a number of very good universities in other European countries, such as the Netherlands, offering degrees in English, and their tuition fees are much lower. I don't know where you stand on getting government help for the tuition fees or living costs if you choose to do this though, but it might be worth researching.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'd just like to second everything Arctic Roll has said. He really really knows his stuff when it comes to student finance and has pointed you towards some great resources.

    Please, please, please, don't let finances put you off applying to university - and definitely don't let finances put you off applying to a top university (or 5 top universities). There's a misperception around that top universities are more expensive than lesser ones. Assuming that everywhere is charging the same tuition fees (and generally they do) then top universities don't cost any more than anywhere else. In fact, you often get the opposite effect. Top universities generally have much better library facilities, greater bursary programmes, and a wider range of accommodation choices meaning you can chose to live in less expensive halls. Some of the best universities for supporting students from low income backgrounds are Cambridge, Durham and Oxford (in alphabetical order only) - so don't let the 'posh' image of any of those put you off.

    Taking out a student loan will leave you in debt when you graduate, but and it's a big but, it's not debt in the way other loans are. It generally won't affect your ability to take out other loans, it doesn't affect your credit rating, and you only have to repay it when you are earning enough to be in a position to repay it.

    For example - you graduate, you work as a teaching assisstant for a year, you earn £12,000. Your student loan just sits there. You go back to uni and do your PGCE for a year. Your student loan continues to just sit there. You graduate, get a teaching job and earn £23,000 a year. At that point you'll start paying it back. It sits on your payslip as a deduction just like tax, and national insurance, so in many ways you hardly notice it going out because it's part of the money you never get in the first place. It will stay in your life as an additional tax, until either you reach the time out point when it gets written off, or you've paid it back.

    Please don't let student loan debt put you off applying to university. The one area to consider is whether you can afford to live at university on the combined total of any grant you are entitled to, your loan and the income from any realistic part time or summer job. If when you do the numbers that looks to be impossible then you need to be seeking support from the university you end up at.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hey there Starry Night,

    Thanks for posting your query. It's great to hear that you are thinking of going to University and that things are a clearer with all the great responses.

    I wanted to let you know that we have some great Student Money articles on theSite.org that you may not have been aware of - http://thesite.org/homelawandmoney/money/studentmoney

    As Arctic Roll has already said, don't let finances stop you from going to Uni; it truly is a great experience.

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