Funding. In particular, Student Funding. It’s the hot topic every September and then people tend to forget about it until the student population protests and then it’s forgotten again. But we don’t need to talk politics.
Medical School finance is one of the great mysteries in the world but once you get to grips with it, the fog clears and the debt sign shines brightly ( joke ).
So, because this blog is aimed at graduate students, I am going to talk about how to fund medical school as a graduate on a graduate entry programme … Bring on the diagrams!
So firstly, the tuition fee. At the moment the tuition fee’s stand at £9,250 but this will change. I don’t like to say it will but it’s inevitable. So you need to keep on top of any changes. Universities will display this on their websites so it will be easy to identify any changes.
Graduate courses are mostly funded by the government and the NHS, except from the first year where you will need to find £3,465 of your own money to pay for it. People do it many different ways, I myself was lucky enough to have savings. However, some medical schools, like Warwick, allow you to pay in instalments so you could use some of your patience loans to pay for it.
After Year 1, tuition fees still remain (if the government allows it) at £9,250. Again, THIS IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. However, the NHS bursary kicks in and the NHS pays £3,715 whilst student finance pays £5,535. So, beyond year 1, you don’t have to worry about paying your tuition fees.
So, you have sorted out paying for your actual course, but what about things like eating? This is where the maintenance loan comes into play ( just to let you know I have written this section twice now because my elbow decided to close my last window…..)
In your first year, your finance comes entirely from student finance and is means-tested. This means you are eligible for up to £8,700 (will be more for London students) plus extra weeks allowance as Medicine is longer than other courses. I actually forgot about this extra allowance so I was shocked when my student finance came in and was significantly more than I was expecting!
Beyond first-year things get a bit complicated as you apply for finance and it comes in three different ways.
Firstly – You will get a non-means tested grant of £1000. That means you are guaranteed this amount. Whoop, and it’s a grant which means it’s £1000 less to pay back (she says writing this knowing full well the interest on her undergraduate degree is going to end up more than the actual degree).
Secondly- There is a means-tested NHS bursary of up to £2,643. This works the same way as student finance so will be tested against your parent’s income ( if you are still a dependent student but I will detail this later). You also get £84 per extra week so you can claim up to a maximum of £4,491.
Finally – You can still claim a lower rate of student finance at £2,324 which is still a loan and will drop in your final year to £1,744.
You may also claim for travel costs when on placement which involves a long form that you have to fill out.
PLEASE NOTE THIS FIGURES WILL CHANGE, SO PLEASE KEEP UP TO DATE WITH FINANCE WHEN YOU APPLY.
Additional help is available to students with families or if a student qualifies as a disabled student. You qualify as an independent student when you are over the age of 25. Until then, you need to make sure your parents keep their income information handy. If you are over 25 and living with a partner, their finances will be looked at so they need to keep their information handy.
If you have children you can claim for parent learning allowance which helps with childcare costs and is means-tested and non-repayable. This is the same if you have an adult dependant.
Finally, if you are a disabled student you can apply for DSA’s. This is not a lump sum in your bank account every term but provides equipment and help to disabled students. As a disabled student myself, I get help from a mentor ( basically someone to let my crazy out to every week) and I get printing allowances as I find working with paper easier.
In your first year, these are paid by student finance but after this, the NHS pays for them.
Paying back the loans is the thing most people are worried about. However, you will not realise that you are paying them back as the money you pay back never reaches your bank account.
As it stands, any loans you took out before 2012 will start being paid back once you have started to earn over £18,330. However, now the figure is £25,000 and you pay back 9% for every £1000 earned over this threshold. This means if you earn £26,000, you will pay back £90 per year, not much.
However, what would the world be without interest!
You actually start paying back your loan as soon as you take the loan out, and if you are like me and going straight from one degree to another, that is potentially 7 years of pure interest ( lucky me). The interest rate at this point is the RPI +3%. When you start earning this drops to RPI only and then increases as your income increases.
So as you can see, it’s pretty straightforward. Just don’t let the repayments scare you, you won’t even earn enough as an F1 to even pay them back ! 😀