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Free Mature Student Guide Student Finance 2015 - how it works

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The radical overhaul to English student finance in 2012 caused myths, panic and confusion. If you’re over 25, or younger but independent from your parents, 2012+ student loans work slightly differently than for typical school leavers going to university. This new free mature students' guide is here to give you the facts.

The guide is provided by and Universities UK and is crucial reading for anyone considering going to uni in 2015.

Teachers / Parents / Universities feel free to print and distribute this guide.

Watch or listen to the audio and video guides

Click the button to see each of the video and audio guides...

What's in the booklet


If you only read the newspapers, you’d believe all students were single 18-year-olds who have just got their A-level results, and are ready to spend three years in the student bar binge drinking.

Yet few of those stereotypes are true (though I’m sure some may still like the odd pint). Many at university are substantially older, have children or are financed independently. In fact, some universities now see mature students as the majority.

1. The basic facts

The size of tuition fees can be scary, but often, it’s not as frightening as it sounds. The repayments are solely based on earnings, not on the amount borrowed. It’s important you know the key facts.

2. Loans, grants and bursaries

There is a range of financial support out there for those wanting to go into higher education. This falls into two main categories – Government support and direct money from universities and colleges. The amounts available often depend on household income – which usually means your unearned income, and the taxable income of any partner that lives with you.

3. How the repayments work?

Student loans must be repaid when you have left the course and started work, and are earning over £21,000 – whereas grants and bursaries do not need to be repaid (unless you leave your course early in some circumstances). Students starting at English universities in 2015 could graduate with loans of anything up to £51,000 if they take both tuition fee loans and maintenance loans.

4. How much will it actually cost?

This is the crucial question and it's one of the many fears putting people off going to university – the ‘how will I afford to live with this debt?’ question. The answer is different for everyone, but the following three points should help clear it up.

5. Q&As

Key questions answered include: 'If I want to do a distance learning course – can I get a living cost loan?', 'What happens if I lose my job or take a career break?' and 'How do those who are self-employed repay the debt?'.

Further reading

A list of key contacts to help with all aspects of student finance.

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