Born a year too late and have to pay the new eye-wateringly-expensive university tuition fees? TheSite.org is here to help you get your head round the numbers.
There's no way of sugar-coating it - university has just got frickin' expensive. From 2012 tuition fees will treble, and unless the Bank of Parental Units is plentiful and generous you're going to need a hefty loan to pay for your education.
How much are the new tuition fees?
From September 2012, universities can charge from £6000 to £9000 a year for their courses. Although the institutions that choose to charge the maximum will have to prove they are increasing access to students from poorer backgrounds.
The choice to increase fees lies with each individual university, but because their funding has been dramatically slashed, it's likely they'll all be asking for the full whack.
Tuition fees in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales
In Northern Island, there is still no decision on whether to increase tuition fees.
Scottish universities are free for Scottish people, but they charge students from England, Northern Ireland and Wales. This is not expected to change, but depends on the outcome of the May 2011 Scottish elections.
In Wales, tuition fees could also rise to £9000. Welsh students will have the price difference covered by a tuition fee grant. Non-Welsh students wanting to study in the country will need to pay the full price themselves, or get a loan. The final decision will be announced in July 2011.
Where am I going to find the money for tuition fees?
You may be considering scrapping a university education altogether
You won't have to pay any of this in advance, as the Government loans you the money. You start repaying it once you're earning over £21,000 (hence the term 'graduate contribution'). You'd pay back 9% of your salary over £21,000 until your loan is re-paid, up to a maximum of 30 years; after this point, your loan will be written off. If you have a gap in employment or your salary falls below £21,000 you will not re-pay the loan for that period. The good news - well sort of - is that if you never earn more than £21,000, you won't be liable for a penny.
For the first time, you'll be able to apply for a loan for fees if you're planning to take a part-time degree, subject to certain conditions.
There will be a new National Scholarships Programme to encourage bright students from poor backgrounds to go to university. This is still being developed, but might provide financial benefits, such as a free first year or foundation year.
What about living costs?
On top of tuition fees, students will also have to pay for books, rent, food, and going out and getting sh*tfaced. You can get a student loan to help with these costs as well.
If you're living away from home and studying outside London you can apply for a loan of up to £5500. If you study in London this is increased to £7675. And if you live with your parents you can get a loan worth £4375.
The Government is also introducing non-repayable grants to help students from poorer background pay for living costs. If your household income is up to £25,000 you're entitled to a full grant of £3250, which you don't have to pay back. If your household income is between £25,000 and £42,000 you'll be eligible for a grant of between £50 and £3250.
Is a degree still worth anything?
You're not the only person who finds these numbers off-putting, and may be considering scrapping a university education altogether. But it's worth remembering you don't have to pay a penny upfront. To give you a better idea of how much you'll be expected to pay each month check out the Government's website, which gives examples of repayments according to job type.
You probably fear the prospect of repaying an enormous student loan for the rest of your life, but having a degree is still a pre-requisite for certain jobs, and will increase your earning power later on. And besides, going to university gives you more than just a piece of paper - you'll experience living away from home, trying new sports and hobbies and meeting new people.
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