Getting over the hurdles
Not every path to a degree follows the typical route from A Levels. Your financial situation shouldn’t stop you either. Here are some practical options to consider, and the essential facts about student loans.
Nineteen or over with no A Levels?
Access to Higher Education courses prepare people for study at university, who don’t have the typical qualifications. They are designed for people who are returning to education.
Most courses take 1 year and can be challenging (but rewarding!). The Access to HE Diploma is a Level 3 qualification, so it’s like doing A Levels. But note that there will be college fees if you have already have achieved Level 3.
There are different courses depending on what subjects interest you for future university study, for example:
- Animal Management
- Art & Design
- Social Care
Listen below to Emily’s full podcast about her journey to a nursing degree…
Emily did her GCSEs at the same time as her Access to HE Diploma (Nursing) at Kingston College. She was then accepted at Kingston University.
University at College?
Some Further Education colleges offer BA/BSc Degrees in partnership with universities. The tuition fees are lower and you can study while living at home.
Another option at Further Education colleges is doing a Foundation Degree. The entry requirements are typically lower than for Bachelor’s degrees. Course content has more focus on employability, with business links for work placements. Foundation Degrees take 2 years full time or 3 years part-time.
You then have the option of taking a ‘top-up’ year to a full degree, although you need to do a new application.
Living Away? Near or Far?
It may be easier for you to succeed at studying and gaining independence by moving away from home, although this can be a huge step for carers and families. Try to imagine how often you will want to come home. It can be very stressful for carers to face the high cost and time to travel a great distance. It’s a good idea to look at the train connections and prices.
Apply for universities that are both near and far so you can make this decision closer to the time of starting.
Changes at home may need to be planned well in advance of starting university. We can help you think about what might need to change, and plan some steps that will make it easier for everyone.
Money for Higher Education
2021 entry information
Bursaries and Scholarships
You don’t pay these back. Each university will have different criteria. They are based on need and on special talents, for example academic, sporting or musical. Some universities offer bursaries and other extra help to carers. Check each website carefully or contact the Widening Participation department and ask what help they offer.
Tuition Fee Loan
Fees can be up to £9,250 per year. The money goes straight to the university, so you don’t see it or manage the payments.
This is for living costs, and depends on your family income. It’s higher if you are studying and living in London. You get this in your bank account three times a year. Important for carers living at home – If your parents earn less than £25,000 you can get a loan of up to £7,987 per year.
Paying back loans
When you are earning over £27,295, you pay back 9% of your earnings above £27,295.
What that looks like:
|You earn||£28,000 per year|
|Amount over £27,295||£28,000 – £27,295 = £705|
|You pay 9% of anything over £27,295||9% of £705 = £63.45|
|You pay every month||£63.45 / 12= £5.29/month|
Student bank accounts
Compare the Market has a comparison list of all the different accounts on offer, helping you to find the best deal to suit your needs. (NB Compare the Market is a price comparison website that does receive fees from organisations it recommends – but it does have a comprehensive list of options available.)