Do tuition fees actually matter?
After the 2010 UK elections, university tuition fees notoriously raised to up to £9,000 a year from £3,000. The rise of tuition fees has scared people from applying to university, and there is much confusion on what they mean now when studying and after you graduate. This is your ultimate guide on tuition fees – no matter how much they are – and what you really need to know about them.
Firstly, not every university or course costs £9,000 a year to attend/study. This is to direct what universities can charge up to this amount, each institution and course will cost a different amount. Some can be as high as that figure, but others can be as low £6,000 – it’s all relative.
Secondly, the coalition government did raise tuition fees, but they also raised the earning threshold meaning as it costs more to obtain a degree, you have to earn more as a graduate to begin to repay your loan. The threshold has increased to £21,000 per annum, therefore, as a graduate, you have to be earning at least this amount before student loan repayments began to come out of your student bank account. If you earn less than this, you don’t have to pay anything back.
Next, if you began university the year where the fees were still £3,000 your student loan repayments will begin when you start to earn over £15,000 a year. You should check what tuition fees you were charged to really understand when you start paying back what you owe and how much.
Student loan repayments will automatically come out of your payslip, just like your student tax; you won’t see them in your account and won’t have to worry about a direct debit. However, if you find that you are earning the right amount of money to pay them back, but they somehow aren’t showing up, you should contact student finance about setting up the repayments. Also, if you’re not clear on when you should set up repayments or how much you’ll owe you can always contact the student loans company for more information.
Even if the high tuition fees scare you, you need to remember that – depending on your nationality, how long you have lived in the UK, you and/or your household’s earnings – you can get a loan to pay them. This is where you apply for the student loan company to pay your tuition; they pay the university directly in most cases, and you have nothing to worry about.
There are other factors that can alter your tuition fee loans. Some universities offer full or part scholarships where they reduce the cost of your tuition (you could save thousands). These scholarships come in all shapes and sizes, and the institution usually contacts the students about whether they’re eligible for these if you want to know more information you can speak to an advisor at your university. Scholarships can be based on academic credit (your previous grades, admission test scores, etc.) household income and if you’re an international student.
Recently, with the next UK election sparking controversy and conversation, there are rumours of Labour wanting to lower the tuition fees to £6,000. Even though this may prove popular with younger voters, lowering tuition fees isn’t always the best answer to aid every student. With the big money pot, the government has to spend on the country, and divide up into hospitals, police and fire stations, welfare and education, there is only a specific amount the government can afford to allocate to education, and then universities and students.
Students and universities would benefit more from this money being spent on more bursaries (where you don’t have to pay back the money you receive) and scholarships to help the most economically vulnerable students. Universities would then receive the money for tuition fees, students would pay it back when they earned enough and can physically afford it, and students would benefit more from receiving extra help – especially as they didn’t have to pay it back.
Before you freak out about tuition fees, read up on what they are, what they do, why they exist and what it means to you. If you still have doubt about how they affect you, you can read our student finance, contact student finance England or your college/university for more information.