Yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne announced two major changes to Student Finance in his Budget, but what exactly do these changes mean and how will it affect you?
The changes are:
1. Maintenance Loans will be scrapped from 2016: The Maintenance Grant is currently given to students whose household income is below £42,600 and is awarded for living costs up to the value of £3,387 per year dependant on the exact level of your household income. It is intended as a top up to the Maintenance Loan of up to £8,000 which is open to all students for living costs but the amount you are entitled to borrow depends on your household income. From 2016, the Maintenance Grants will no longer be offered and the Maintenance Loans will be increased to £8,200 but all of this money will need to be paid back, along with your tuition fees. Current students and those starting in 2015 will not be affected by these changes.
2. Tuition fee increases: Universities that can demonstrate excellence in teaching will be allowed to increase their tuition fees above the current cap of £9,000, in line with inflation. This will take effect from 2017/18 so if you started a 3 year course this year you will not be affected by this change, however those that are starting this September/October, may find that tuition fees increase in your final year, however this will not be the case for all universities and it will only be in line with inflation.
In general, these changes will not affect anyone’s ability to go to university as the money will still be part of the student loan, but it will increase the outstanding debt you have on graduation and this should be considered carefully when you make your application.