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Everything you need to know about the change from university grants to loans


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There’s no doubt that going to university is expensive, and it might be about to get even more so if you were planning to rely on a grant.

If you’re heading off to uni this September, the changes that George Osborne brought in will affect you. Here’s everything you need to know.

(Ben Birchall/PA)
(Ben Birchall/PA)

What are the changes?

Previously students going to university in England could apply for grants, but now they have to apply for loans instead.

Who will be affected?

Over half a million of the poorest students.

When does it happen?

Unfortunately, the changes came into effect yesterday. George Osborne announced the shift in his last July budget, coming into effect on August 1.

(Chris Radburn/PA)
(Chris Radburn/PA)

So how will it all actually work?

Before this week, students with a family household income of less than £25,000 could apply for a grant of £3,387. This grant was offered on a sliding scale, for students from households of up to £42,620. Not much, but incredibly helpful for lots of students.

Now students living away from home in London can apply for a loan of up to £10,702, and those outside of London can get up to £8,200.

The crucial difference between the two is that the loans have to be repaid. The same process will apply as tuition fees – once you’ve started earning £21,000 or above you will have to start paying your loans back.

Who decided this?

According to the Independent, a group of just 18 MPs helped to implement this change in a 90-minute debate with 10 Ayes and eight Noes. It was not passed by a parliamentary vote.

(Johnny Green/PA)
(Johnny Green/PA)

How are students reacting?

Angrily, as you can imagine. Sorana Vieru, the NUS Vice president, described it as a move that “basically punishes poorer students simply for being poor” in an interview with BBC Breakfast.

What effect will it have on universities?

It’s likely to decrease the number of applications to English universities, as many poorer people will no longer be able to afford the high costs. This will adversely affect social mobility, decreasing the diversity of universities which already have a reputation for being a haven of the middle classes.

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