Coping with financial challenges
Finance is an issue for all students, regardless of age. It can be particularly difficult for mature students, who are often faced with a range of competing commitments. Mature students who drop out of their studies report financial hardship as one of the main reasons for not completing their courses. With this in mind, it is worth spending some time planning your finances for the duration of your study, so you know what to expect when you start.
What about getting a part-time job?
It’s important to get the right balance between work and study. Most universities recommend not working more than 15 hours a week, and that the job fits around lecture timetables. Having said that, some universities and colleges are keen to employ students themselves, and may have facilities on campus to help students find work in the local area.
If you are already working, and plan to fit a part-time course around an existing job, you will need to think carefully about the time you will need for your studies. It might sound obvious, but don't forget to factor in the time you will need for reading, preparatory work, and doing your assignments – as well as building in time to take care of your wellbeing. It's important to look after your physical and mental health, and ensure you have time to relax and switch off occasionally.
Read more about balancing work and study
Other sources of income
If you haven't already explored the different finance and funding opportunities available to you, take some time to read our information about finance and funding options for mature students. You may find that in addtion to student finace, there are other grants, loans, bursaries, or scholarships for students in particular circumstances (e.g. if you are a parent) that you could be eligible for.
If you are struggling with your finances, speak to the student support team as soon as possible – many universities and colleges have someone who can advise you on managing your finances and applying for addtional funding. You may also be able to apply for the university's hardship fund to help you continue your studies.
‘Money was of particular concern for me, as I was going to have to give up work, but still financially support my family. My university put me in contact with their student support office for financial advice, and their adviser took me through everything. We worked out what financial help I would be eligible for, what my budget would be, and then looked at whether or not it would be enough to cover my mortgage and bills.’
Tracy Rose, 34, studying Physics and Cosmology at Loughborough University.
Repaying your student loans after graduation
The tuition fee and maintenance loans are added together to form the ‘student loan.’
The earliest date that repayment can start is the April that follows the July you graduate in, and only if you are earning over the repayment threshold.
Repayments are linked to what you earn, not what you owe. If your income drops below the repayment threshold, then repayments will stop, and will restart only if your income rises above the repayment threshold again. For example, if you decide to take a career break, go on maternity leave, or become unemployed, payments will be suspended. However, interest to the loan will still be applied. If you move overseas, the payback threshold is adjusted according to cost of living in that country.
Any student loan outstanding after a 30-year period will be written off. There is no penalty for early repayments.
Read more about repaying your loan:
England – Student Finance England
Scotland – Student Awards Agency Scotland