M.B. McGrady & Co Chartered Accountants in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Student Support

At this time of the year with A level results pending the scramble to submit Student Support Assessment forms intensifies.  There have been substantial changes to the Student Support area over the last few years and it is worth having a look at what is now available.  Providing financial support to a child in third level education can be an additional drain on parents resources in these difficult times.

Whilst at college a student will have two main costs to meet:

-           A contribution to tuition fees

-           Living costs

It is important to apply to the education board for financial help as soon as an offer of a place on a course is received, even if that offer is conditional.  This should be done even if it is thought that no fee assistance is available as the student still needs to apply through their board for a “living cost” loan if one is required.

The maximum tuition fee contribution required by a student in Northern Ireland is £3,465 and with the average cost of a full time course rising each year it is important to know what financial support is available.  Most students are eligible for support towards these fees through the education board depending on their personal and family’s income.

Student loans are also available to help meet their living costs while they are studying.  Interest on these loans is linked to inflation only – they do not attract higher rate interest charged by banks and other commercial lenders.  These student loans do not need to be repaid until the student has left University and is earning over £15,795 (for 2012/13 Tuition Fee Loans)

For 2012/13 a loan application to the Board should be made at the same time as the application for support towards tuition fees.  The board will assess the amount of loan entitlement and the individual will be invited to say how much they would like to apply for.

Around 3/4 of the maximum loan will be available to most students.  The remainder will be means-tested and is obviously dependent upon the level of the individual’s income and that of the family.

Grants are also available to students enrolling on specific government courses and the amount will be determined by your relevant education and library board.

If you would like further advice on the above or need assistance completing financial forms please do not hesitate to contact us.

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