University Fees: What Students and Parents Should Know

There’s no denying it, attending university in the UK costs a lot of money.

However, for students who are looking to advance their education and gain valuable skills and qualifications, university is a worthwhile investment.

Here at Save My Exams, we believe no student should feel that their family’s financial background excludes them from obtaining a degree. That’s why we’ve asked our team of higher education experts to put together this up-to-date guide covering everything you need to know about student loans, living costs, grants and funding.

If you or a family member are hoping to enrol onto a university course soon, this is a must-read!

The information in this guide applies to UK-national undergraduate students, and is correct as of June 2020

How much does it really cost?

UK tuition fees vary depending on your home country.

For all UK and EU students, English universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year.

Institutions in Wales can charge up to £9,000. 

Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.

Scotland does not charge home or EU students fees at undergraduate level, however, any student from England, Wales or Northern Ireland will pay up to £9,250 per year.

Added costs

In addition to tuition fee costs, students are expected to pay for their accommodation (including bills), transport costs, course materials (including text books and laptops), leisure and sports activities, and of course their food and drink.

These costs can vary dramatically depending on which university you attend, where you choose to live, and your lifestyle choices!

As a rough guide, the average student rent is £126 per week, or £547 a month, however, students in London can expect to pay an average of £182 a week, or £640 a month. The average annual cost for students is £4,914 (based on a 39-week contract).

Student loans 

Every student, regardless of family income, is entitled to a full tuition fee loan.

In addition, students can apply for a means-tested maintenance loan to cover the other costs outlined above.

The maximum maintenance loan for 2020/21 will be £9,203 for UK students living away from home and studying outside London. The equivalent loan rate for students living away from home and studying in London will be £12,010; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £7,747; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £10,539.

Registering with the Student Loans service is a fairly long but straightforward process – head to Student Finance England for more information.

Note- if your household income has recently been affected by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and you are due to begin university in 2020, be sure to get in touch with Student Finance and your university in case you are now entitled to additional financial support. 

Loan repayment

When you graduate from university, it’s likely that you won’t have to start repaying your loans right away.

You only start repaying your student loans once you earn a certain amount of money, which is currently set at £494 a week or £2,143 a month (before tax and other deductions) –  which is more than the average starting salary.

At that stage, 9% of the amount you earn over the threshold will be taken from your monthly wage packet. This is to say, for example, if you were to be earning £26,716 (£1,000 over the threshold), the overall takings would be 9% of that £1,000 (£90), rather than 9% of your £26,716 overall. In short – it’s a small amount that shouldn’t concern you. When you pay it back you’ll be earning enough to make the repayments feel negligible in comparison to your real earnings.

Remember that student debt doesn’t work in the way that ‘regular’ debt does. It doesn’t count against your credit score and it won’t get in the way of getting a mortgage in the future.

Additional grants 

A range of grants and bursaries (monetary awards that don’t require repaying) are available to students who need them.

Students from lower income backgrounds, those with disabilities in need of extra support, or students studying particular courses are eligible for additional funding and scholarships.

You can learn more about some of the support on offer here – but be aware that this support varies from uni to uni, so it’s a good idea to get in touch with the universities you want to attend to see what you’re entitled to.

Many students often pick up a part time job whilst at university, and full time jobs during the holidays to help top-up their bank accounts. From working as a library assistant to pulling pints behind the student bar, you’ll plenty of employment opportunities both on and off campus.

Student overdrafts

Most major banks offer special student bank accounts, and these accounts come with interest-free arranged overdrafts of up to £3000.

This means that you can spend more money than you have in your account without being charged for it!

You will, of course, have to pay this money back when you graduate, so don’t get carried away.

It’s best to use your overdraft as a safety net, and as an alternative to private loans.

Any further questions for our higher education experts? Ask away!

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If you’re looking for further advice and support with university applications, head to our blog: