There’s no getting away from it unless you were born in a castle, you’re going to have to borrow money to go to uni. The main options are:
If your family income is low you might qualify for grants or bursaries – you don’t have to pay these back. Check Turn2Us and Scholarship Search or ask Student Finance at your university. You’ll also be eligible for extra money if you are a parent, a carer or if you have a disability.
If you’re Welsh or from Northern Ireland, you can usually get some of your maintenance loan as a grant. If you’re Scottish, the government will pay your tuition fees too.
You don’t start student loan repayments until you’ve finished your course and you’re earning over £21,000 a year (the repayment threshold). Then you pay 9% of anything you earn over £21,000.
So, for example, if you earn £23,000 that means you earn £2000 more than the threshold so you would pay 9% of £2000 over a year, or around £180 a year (£15 a month).
If you take on extra shifts, work overtime or your hours go up, this means you’ll pay a bit more each month but if your hours drop, so will your repayments.
The idea is that you only pay when you can afford to. So you don’t make repayments if you can’t find a job, lose your job or if you’re ever earning less than £21,000 a year.
Banks often offer students interest free overdrafts – which means you have a bit of extra money as a safety net if you have a big expense, like having to travel home at short notice.
Beware that when you graduate, you’ll have to start paying interest which could be a real shock if you’re not earning yet. Shop around to get the best graduate bank account deals.
And whatever you do, make sure you are using an AGREED overdraft. If you go overdrawn without agreeing it first, you’ll be charged.
Education is free if you’re under 18. But there are some grants to help with travel and other costs.
None of these need paying back.
You’re looking at a loan, though there are some grants and bursaries available.
And that’s good advice, to a point. But there’s a massive difference between good debts (debts that help you move on in life and are easy to manage) and bad debts (debts that have huge levels of interest or were caused by buying stuff you don’t need). See our article about good and bad debt for more information.
Tuition, maintenance and advanced learner loans totally tick the good debt box. If it helps, look at them more like tax than a debt.
Try not to let the debt stress you out or be the only reason you decide not to become a student. On the other hand, if you know deep down that university is not for you, don’t worry – there are lots of other options.