Dealing with your Student Debt
The UK used to have an excellent ‘free’ education system, on the premise that education its citizens made the whole country wealthier. That has now changed, and student loans are the norm, as in the USA. This, of course, means that the majority of students leave University with a gigantic financial millstone around their necks. Is there anything they can do about this? In the first place, let’s see if we can reduce the amount of debt we run up during the course.
With an average debt of about £11K (over $20,000 USD!), the average graduate leaves higher education more indebted than their parents. There are some additional funding sources that may be able to help some students, and prevent them incurring such enormous debt in the first place. You ‘Local Education authority’ (LEA) may offer means tested help towards tuition fees. The means test examines your income and that of your parents unless you are classed as an ‘independent student’. Apply to the LEA where you intend to live before the course starts. Some LEA’s may also offer Student Loans against your living costs while you are at college. See www.nodebtever.com for a list of LEA contacts.
Extra Allowances. You may be entitled to a Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) which does NOT have to be repaid, and is intended to offset some of the additional costs you suffer because of your disability. Ask your LEA if you suffer from a recognized disability.
Got Kids? You are probably entitled to a Child Care Grant. Once again, consult your LEA. The principle is that you shouldn’t be ‘penalized’ because you have children. If you are a single parent, you may even be able to get a ‘Lone Parent’ grant, which compensates you for being on your own with children as a student.
Come from a broken home? Try for a Care Leavers Grant. If you have no parents to stay with in the summer holidays, you may be able to claim up to £100 a week towards accommodation costs. Ask your LEA!
Once IN college, how do you keep your costs down? We’ll look at that topic in the next article.