New. Student fees 2012 VIDEO guide
Uni applications for 2012 are now open | While the price tag may be £50,000, many pay far, far less
There's widespread fear around the up to £9,000 fees charged for 2012 starters in England. Now applications are open, the worry is people will be unnecessarily put off. So we've a raft of resources to help you understand how it works, and tackle the myths and misunderstandings.
- Did you know? 1) You don't need cash to pay for uni. 2) Repayment only starts once you've left and earn £21,000+. 3) Monthly repayments will be the same whether your course has £9,000 or £6,000 fees. 4) 2012 starters repay LESS each month than today's graduates. 5) You will probably repay for 30 years. If you didn't know these, do the rest in the full Student Fees 2012 - 20 key facts guide.
- 'What'll it really cost?' calculator. Many yell that 2012 starters taking max tuition and maintenance loans will leave with a dire £50,000 debt. We wish it wasn't true, but it is. Yet it's mostly meaningless, as repayments depend only on earnings after graduation. www.studentfinancecalc.com works it out for you. Low earners repay very little, high earners repay much more.
- New Video. Martin takes you through it. Grab a cuppa and settle down to watch the student finance video guide filmed in front of parents and potential students at UCL (the sound is dodgy for first minute) Important: Feel free to show the video at parents' groups, schools, unis or even UK-wide cinema chains (if you've the pull).
- How to apply for uni: Full time students apply via UCAS online or via school/college (£11 for one course, £22 for more). Deadlines: 15 Oct: Dentistry, medicine, vet courses and Oxbridge. 15 Jan: All courses bar art and design (24 Mar). Part-time it depends on uni, but it can be later (up to 31 July).
Related: Top Student Accounts 2011, Graduate Accounts 2011, Parents Guide to 2011 Student Finance
Urgent! Inflation-beating savings (RPI + 1.5%)
Inflation's now a huge 5.2%, eating at savings | NS&I's closed but inflation-linked deals still exist
Inflation figures rose yesterday to 5.2%. This is a saver's nightmare, as unless their interest's higher, cash buys less when they take it out than when they put it in. Worse, last week, the Govt's NS&I bank closed its inflation-beating savings deal. There are alternatives, but be warned, there's no guarantee inflation will stay high. Those new to this please first read the inflation beating savings guide. All accounts below have full £85,000 UK Savings Protection.
- Ends Thurs. Top inflation-matching cash ISA. Lock cash away for 6 years in the Yorkshire Building Society (min £3,000) and it pays the greater of RPI growth or 2.5% AER per year. While the Post Office's rate below is better, Yorkshire lets you do it as a cash ISA so you can save £5,340 tax-free for this financial year if you don't already have an ISA, or can transfer in from old ISAs. Apply in branch or by post by Thurs.
- Ends Fri. Top inflation-beating savings. Lock money away for 5 years in the Post Office Savings Inflation-Linked Bond (min £500), and it pays annual RPI inflation plus 1.5%, though this doesn't compound (no interest on interest). Forms must be received by 16 Sept, and supporting ID received by 10 Oct. Don't confuse Post Office Savings with NS&I, they're not related. Interest is fixed though, so only non-taxpayers will actually beat inflation. (Update 14 Sept 15.45pm: The Post Office bond has been withdrawn, full details & alternatives in the Inflation Beating Savings guide).
- Top easy-access tax-free savings. If you can't lock cash away, just max your rate. You can save up to £5,340 tax-free each tax year in a cash ISA. Northern Rock's* easy-access variable e-ISA pays 3.05% AER on new money & transfers.
- New. Top easy access standard savings. The new top penalty-free normal savings account is Derbyshire BS's NetSaver at 3.18% AER, including a 2.18% bonus until the end of Nov 2012.
Full info in the Updated Guides: Inflation Linked Savings, Top Savings Accounts, Cash ISA
Stuck in tax credit overpayment hell?
Been told you need to give back tax credits? | You may only have a month to appeal
In recent weeks letters have been sent out by HMRC telling people they've been overpaid or underpaid tax credits. While being one of the million who've been overpaid sounds good, it means you've been paid too much and must give it back, a nightmare if you've already spent it as we could be talking £1,000s. Our Tax Credit guide has full help, here's a summary:
Why do incorrect payments happen? You renew in July, and the info you give is used to ESTIMATE your entitlement for that tax year (April to April) as well as finalise the last tax year. So if your details were wrong, or things changed (your work hours, childcare costs, whether you live with a partner) and either you didn't let them know or did and they didn't register it then these small changes can mean big differences.
- Check if there's been a mistake: If you disagree with the amount of tax credits you need give back or told HMRC things had changed, but it didn't take them into account, you may not need to repay. Send a dispute form if you gave the right info but it didn't act (no time limit) or appeal if it's got facts wrong (WITHIN a month). Full help in the Tax Credit Overpayment help.
- Been underpaid? They should just send you the cash owed, so no worries.
- Free 5-min benefits check-up: If you're not sure you're getting everything you're entitled to, try our special Benefits Check-up tool. Answer a series of questions and it'll show you if you're missing out.
For more help, and how to prevent overpayments, see the Updated Guide: Tax Credit Help. Related: Childcare Help