Going to university is as much about value for money as it is about education. Many universities now charge as much as £9,000 per year to study, and the need has never been greater for students to get a firm grasp of their finances. So let’s have a look at some of the best sources online for finding out about student loans, tuition fees and how much repayments will cost.
Student loans company – http://www.slc.co.uk/
As the official website for student loans, and the company which issues UK loans and financial support, this should be the first port of call for all loan related questions. Most useful are the ‘service’ and ‘students’ sections, which give a breakdown of how different types of loans work (from the pre-1998 ‘Mortgage Style’ loans, to the more modern ‘Income Contingency’ loans), as well as a short guide on interest, why it is payable, at what rate it is payable and how it is calculated. There is also a ‘frequently asked questions’ section and a guide to repaying loans from abroad.
A reliable source on anything from mortgages to mobile phone contracts, Martin Lewis’s website has some comprehensive guides on student finance, focusing on 20 or so must-know facts, including the number of years before a debt is written off, whether student loans are counted as part of your credit rating, to the little-known fact that repayments could be £470/year less than for current graduates – contrary to popular belief.
The Complete University Guide – http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk
This is a must-read site for anyone looking at going to university, and advises on everything from university rankings, to crime rates in university cities and clearing. There is also a very useful student loan repayment calculator, which helps you work out exactly how much you can expect to pay back and over how long, based on your projected salary and career path.
HM Revenue and Customs – http://www.hmrc.gov.uk
HMRC’s website has a dedicated section on student loan repayments and advises on some of the trickier issues such as which types of student finance are taxable (most grants and awards are not), what to do if you overpay on your student loan and how to get refunded and how to repay your loan if you are self-employed. HMRC’s advice is a bit more technical, but very useful for some of the more complex problems you might face when repaying a student loan.
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) – http://www.bis.gov.uk
This is the governmental department responsible for economic policy, including consumer affairs, company law and, importantly for students, higher education. BIS has a ‘policies’ section where it lists guidelines for students heading to university, including a table of financial support based on household income and information for those who have deferred entry from 2011-2012. BIS also mentions a £150 million National Scholarship and answers questions about eligibility for loans and financial support
Student Beans –http://www.studentbeans.com/
Student Beans is the go-to site for money saving deals specifically targeted at students, but it also gives some advice about student loans. If you can tear yourself away from all the 2-1s and ‘up to 80% offs’, you’ll also find a section on student loans – with some practical tips about repaying, such as whether or not you should think about paying your loan back early or whether you need to worry about penalties for repayment failure (the answer, for the most part, is no).
These are just a few of the websites available for those looking at applying for a student loan, or those who already have one. But it is also worth looking at information given by each individual university, as they may have their own awards and grants available to make your money management during your time at university that little bit easier.