Are tuition fees as bad as they seem?
When potential students are browsing the university prospectus the price of the tuition fees can seem really daunting, and make university seem pretty much impossible to achieve (Although, there is a fair amount of student loan mythbusting going on these days). However, with all the stigma surrounding tuition fees and going to university after their rise in 2010 there is some stuff that you need to know. Are tuition fees as bad as they seem, and how much will it actually affect you?
What are tuition fees?
Tuition fees are the price that universities and institutions set for the value of the course. This means if you want to study a film degree at University of Birmingham and it costs £6,000 a year and the course runs for three years, the tuition fee for that course is £18,000 in total. It’s simply the price it costs to actually be able to be on the course, materials, teachers and access to learning.
Are all tuition fees the same?
No actually. A lot of courses differ in price, depending on what and where you’re studying. The course prices range from £6,000 and £9,000. Universities by law cannot charge more than that for a university course – it is controlled by the government. A university’s prospectus will usually state how much it costs for a specific course and if it isn’t displayed you could always contact them directly via email or phone to obtain a quote. Certain institutions may have a set price for all of their courses but this isn’t a general rule across the board so bare that in mind.
Has it always cost this much to go to university?
Again, sadly, no. Many moons ago it was actually free – similar to Australia – and before 2010, the course fees were on average up to £3,333 (odd number we know!). But as the amount universities are allowed to charge each student is ruled by the government then they abide by that.
How can I pay them?
Student Finance England (Student Loans Company) is a company connected to the government that offers any student of any age a loan to cover their tuition fees. You can be 18 or 48 years old, if you’re a UK citizen or an international student eligible for the help you’re able to receive it. This means that they’ll pay the university your tuition and you have to pay back Student Finance England back at a later date. It does really get the pressure off while you study!
When do I have to pay it all back?
As the company works through the government, and so do your wages, whether you’re a part-timer or get a graduate job, Student Finance will know how much you earn. Depending on how much your tuition fees were will affect when you start paying back your loan. If you paid around £3,000 each year, you start repaying your loans when you begin earning £15,000, and if you pay between £6,000 and £9,000 then you pay back your tuition fee loan once you start earning £21,000. That way the student is in a similar position either way.
How do I pay it back?
Your repayments actually come out of your pay check automatically, similar to tax and National Insurance, so there isn’t much to worry about. Although, if you are earning enough to pay them back once you graduate or after university, and the repayments aren’t set up you need to contact Student Finance as soon as you can to set them up.
It’s a lot of money for a degree isn’t it?
Well this depends on opinion. It may seem like a lot of money, on average – depending on your study timetable – a few hundred pounds per lecture, however, the majority of student aren’t paying the fees up front. Only UK students who aren’t studying their first degree or some international students who don’t match the criteria have to pay up front; and even in those cases universities do try to help their students pay their fees as they want them to stay.
Universities seem really expensive
It might seem like it will cost you a lot of money to study a degree but there are more options to help you financially. Firstly, Student Finance also offer maintenance loans and grants, Adult dependants grants and disability allowance to help students with living costs and travelling to university. Institutions also have bursaries and certain cash funds to aid students who get into financial trouble. But this doesn’t mean you can squander your student loan and expect extra help! The money the government and universities get to help students is limited so it is on a case-to-case basis.
I don’t really understand tuition fees, who can I talk to?
If you’re still unsure what it means when people talk about tuition fees, or how you’re meant to pay for your studies you can contact Student Finance England, a staff member at your school or college or even the university you’re interested in going to. They’ll be able to answer questions you’re unsure of. You can also check out student.gov as there is a lot of useful information on there too!