Studying in the UK doesn’t come cheap. The cost of attending a college in the UK is relatively high and many students fear that they cannot afford the bill. So you might have asked yourself how do Brits manage to go to college?
This is mostly because many of you are not aware of many funding resources created in UK to help students ease their financial struggles. If you’re one of them, keep reading below as we present a complete set of information about student finance schemes in UK and ways these funds can be reached.
Literally, you don’t get paid to go to college in the UK. But you will receive plenty of financial support during your studies to cover education-related costs in the forms of bursaries, the majority of which don’t need to be paid back. Even if you claim a college student loan, then only a small rate of interest will be charged.
The UK’s education authorities have created flexible student finance schemes to help students from different backgrounds get equal chances of following their education dreams.
Following the completion of the compulsory stage of education at 16 years of age, young Brits have two options ahead:
- Start Working
- Start College
Note that in UK there’s a difference between College and University as we explained in this article.
Some prefer to skip getting higher qualifications and land a good and hopefully long-term job. Some decide to take a step further in their education and seek a college or any other form of Further Education like training or courses which lead to specific jobs or apprenticeships.
The remainder decides to climb higher in the academic world and get an education which promises them an exciting and a much rewarding future.
Fortunately for those who take on Further Education, there are many attractive financial resources which can help to make the cost of college in the UK less overwhelming. Resourced by the national budget, these funding programs offer financial assistance for students by providing scholarships, loans and waiving fees.
Depending on where a British student is attending a degree, the following organizations are the first port to call in case financial assistance is needed
- Student Awards Agency for Scotland
- Student Finance England
- Student Finance Wales
- Student Finance Northern Ireland
There are several factors that determine your eligibility for a specific education fund in UK. Luckily, there are many of such funds available designed to match different students’ profiles.
Overall, your age, your nationality, your residential income, your physical disabilities, the type of your course you’re studying at, the country of Higher Education provider play an essential role.
That said, students of certain age categories can only request a fund which is specific to their age. For example, the UK students aged between 16 and 19 who are studying at a British college are eligible to apply for Education Maintenance Allowance (in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and 16 to 19 Bursary Fund to fund their education.
Specific personal circumstances may also make a student eligible to seek education funds. An example of this is if a student is disabled and there are additional costs due to his/her disability.
As per the nationality, only home students and those coming from EU countries are eligible to seek education funds in UK. Note that this is due to change when UK leaves the EU on March 2019.
Keep in mind that some universities may individually offer student loans for their international students, but in most cases, a certain interest rate is charged.
Since every UK country runs its personal funding schemes for college students there are differences in terms of available funds.
Further Education students in UK may qualify for one of the following funding categories according to their personal circumstances
- Learner Support
- Residential Support Scheme
- Care to Learn
- Dance and Drama Awards
- 16 to 19 Bursary Fund
- Advanced Learning Loan
Depending on which of the above categories you’re included there are different bursary and loans you can claim.
Typically, college students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland aged 16 to 19 are eligible to claim Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), whereas college students in England are eligible to claim 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.
Moreover, college students in the UK are able to get funds to cover accommodation costs by claiming one of the followings
- Residential Bursary Fund (RBF)
- Residential Support Scheme (RSS)
How much can you get?
There are several factors that determine how much you’re eligible to receive, thus there’s not a fits-all-size answer. Overall, your age, nationality, your physical disabilities, the type of your course and the country of provider play role.
For example, if you fall into the categories of eligible students for Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) you can get £30 per week intended to cover day-to-day costs like books and travel costs. In addition, you can receive two bonus payments of £100 if you achieve the goals agreed with your college.
Students of certain age categories may not be eligible for specific financial assistance. For example, students aged over than 60 years in England can only request a Special Support Grant, while students aged between 16 and 19 are entitled to other funding schemes.
Each UK country has its individual student finance office, which is in charge of operating with student loans and grants. Although they’re part of a larger body, to a larger degree they’re free to set their funding policies on their own. That said the criteria and how much students can get to cover their studies changes accordingly.
How to apply for College funds in UK?
To apply for a college fund, you must first reach the student help office in your further education provider because the application process is largely uniquely different at each college.
The application can also be submitted online through the Student Finance in the UK country where you’re studying at the moment. Usually, in such cases, you will need to create a personal account, specify the grant you want to take, your income and a proof of your identity.
Do I need to Give Money Back?
It depends on your personal situation. If you claim a loan because you’re facing temporary difficulties, for example, to pay your rent then money must be paid back. Note however that you will have to repay only after you graduate and earn above a fixed threshold (over £25,000).
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