Going to University is a huge decision for anybody, regardless of their age. We understand that that it is an even bigger decision for you, as a mature student, making this decision later than the most. Being an Adult Learner often means having to think about costs associated with the studying, but also about paying rent/mortgage, bills and various other day-to day living expenses. But don’t hold back or put off your dream of going to University year after year because of that! You do not need cash to pay for your studies, and there is lots of financial help and support available to students of all ages. You just need to know where to look for it.
Here is our guide to what’s on offer and how to claim it.
Firstly, do not underestimate government support. A number of available options include:
- Student Finance England (SFE) Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loans (repayable)
Tuition fee loans of up to £9250 are available to all students going into study for their first higher education qualification, plus to help with the living costs, there is also a maintenance loan of up to £7,324 for students living at home, up to £8,700 for those living away from home (but outside London), and up to £9,663 to students who choose to spend a year of a UK course studying abroad. However it is available only to the full time students under 60. For more information visit the Student Finance page with a useful student finance calculator here.
You do not have to repay anything until you graduate and start earning at least £25,000, and if you do, it will be 9% of anything you earn over that amount. So, as an example, if you earn a salary of £27,000 a year you only repay £15 a month. Any outstanding debt will be wiped out altogether in 30 years.
- Social Work Bursary
If you are looking to study for a social work degree and aren’t getting any support from your employer, and don’t already have a higher education (like a diploma) qualification in social work, then you might be eligible for a Social Work Bursary. It’s not means tested, and you can use it either towards study related expenses or whatever else you might deem appropriate. The number of bursaries offered is limited.
- Additional allowances and grants (non-repayable)
Student Finance England also provides extra support for students with disabilities and students with dependants.
Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) are available to students with long-term health conditions, mental health conditions and specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia. Eligible students can get up to £1,847 a year paid on top of their other student finance, depending on the individual needs.
If you have children under 15 or under 17 (if they have special educational needs) you can apply for the Childcare Grant to help you with your childcare costs (up to 85%).
On top of that, you may also be eligible for the Parent’s Learning Allowance (up to £1617 depending on your household income) to help you with the learning costs.
And if you have an adult who depends on you financially, then you may also receive an Adult Dependants’ Grant.
Other financial help you can get
- University funding
Most universities can also support your ambitions to study with a range of scholarships, grants and awards. Those vary from university to university and reflect the different needs and circumstances of each student, so it is best getting in touch with them directly to discuss the options.
- Funding from educational charities and trusts
A number of national and local Educational Charities and Trusts offer grants to individual students in need of financial help each year. If you qualify, they can provide substantial supplementary funding for part of your course. These grants are usually given out for something specific, like childcare. The most you can get from one charity is around £500, but you are able to apply to more than one.
- Employer’s support
Studying for a degree doesn’t mean that you can’t work. Many mature students continue to work part time or even full time. If you are able to manage your time well, then there is nothing stopping you! Most employers will value your ambition to develop yourself, so they will usually do their best to accommodate you if possible, and might even pay for your studies, or a part of it if it is deemed beneficial to the team and the organisation.
- Student Discounts
To help you save your money on the day-to-day living costs, there are various student discounts – a major perk of being a student! You can get almost anything at a discounted rate! That includes:
Council tax exemptions/reductions – full-time students in further and higher education are usually exempt from paying council tax, so make sure you’re not paying unnecessarily
NUS Extra card – one off payment of £12 will save you loads on a variety of items across a wide range of fields, including Fashion retail, Food and Drink, Travel, Mobile etc .