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University – Is It Worth It?

University – Is It Worth It?

As warm summer days see University campuses change function from hosting hopeful new applicants to honouring graduates. We can rightly ask ourselves; is it all worth it?

A degree provides the opportunity to enter many careers which would be otherwise closed; and that in itself is worth the cost.

Does it really cost £9,000 per annum for tuition fees? The answer is that it depends on the university, academic achievement at level 3 and during the degree, residual household income, personal circumstances, post-graduate income and whether a student qualifies for university scholarships, bursaries and NHS bursaries.

Residual household income is the gross taxable household income minus pension contributions and £1,130 for each other child or eligible student in the household. For a student under 25, the household income is usually that of both parents or the parent that is usually lived with and their partner. If a student is over 25, this would be the income of a partner.

Currently, the maximum amount universities may charge for tuition fees is £9,000 per year. Tuition fees are not required to be paid straight away. All students may apply for a tuition fee loan which is not means tested and is repayable when study is complete and earnings are over £21,000 per annum. Loan repayments will be deducted from salary through the tax system. If the loan is not repaid after 30 years, it is no longer required to be repaid. Although the government doesn’t like to call it this; it is essentially an education tax, which is only paid by those who benefit from the higher salaries that graduates usually earn. In this way it is considered fairer on those who don’t have the benefit of a university education and those on lower incomes.

Any graduate earnings above the £21,000 per annum threshold are subject to a 9% deduction until the loan is repaid. Whilst studying, interest on student loans will be at inflation (RPI – Retail Price Index) + 3% until the April after leaving university. At that point, if earnings are less than £21,000, the interest will be at the rate of inflation. For graduates earning between £21,000 and £41,000, interest will be between the rate of inflation and inflation + 3%.
Students of medicine, dentistry or healthcare may obtain an NHS Bursary. Bursaries help with living costs and tuition fees; they don’t have to be paid back. For further information go to www.gov.uk/nhs-bursaries/eligibility.

In conclusion, academic achievement, the degree chosen and personal circumstances all have an influence on whether the full £9,000 per annum tuition fees are applied, reduced or waivered. Many students qualify for reductions, which make it more attractive to those who want to pursue a career requiring a university education.