From Monday 23 July, Open University students in England new to part-time study can start to apply for a loan from Student Finance England.
This is the formal launch of the part-time student loan system through the release of the loan application form by Student Finance England. It comes after the Government announced last year that, as part of changes to the funding of higher education in England, it would extend student loans (tuition fee loans) to the part-time sector.
Will Swann, Director, Students, said: “Opening up tuition fee loans to part-time students gives even more flexibility to students to manage the costs of their studies.
“In the lead up to this day, we’ve been keeping our new students updated on what they need to do to prepare to apply for a loan. For most people, this will be the first time they’ve been through this process and we’ve produced a wide range of guidance to help them.”
Tuition fee loans mean students are able to study without paying anything upfront. Loans are available to people in England studying for their first undergraduate qualification (or one higher than any they already hold) and starting after September 2012. Students taking out a tuition fee loan will not have to make any repayments until four years after they start their studies, and will only make repayments if they’re earning more than £21,000.
Will Swann continued: “We’ve also put in place the OU Guarantee for this year. Student loans have been part of full-time university study for years, but they are new to part-time students. We want to reassure students who might be worried that they won’t be approved for a student loan in time, that this doesn’t need to be a barrier to study.”
The OU Guarantee will enable students who are eligible for a student loan to start studying even if they haven’t received their student loan confirmation before their course starts.
In addition to loans offered by Student Finance England, the OU has a range of flexible payment options to support students when it comes to financing their studies.
The Access to Success Route provides help with the cost of study and enhanced levels of learner support via two simple steps. It has been designed to help those on low incomes and with no formal qualifications to take their first steps in higher education. The Access to Success Route is funded by the Government’s National Scholarship Scheme and the OU.
Students who are not eligible for a tuition fee loan, or choose not to apply for one, could pay their tuition fees in instalments through OUSBA, the OU’s flexible ‘pay as you go’ finance system. Through OUSBA, students can spread the costs of their module fees into instalments. There is also the option for students to pay their fees in full upfront, or approach their employers for sponsorship.
The OU is committed to showing student the flexible ways to pay for part-time study. In response to the new funding regime The Open University launched a new video which helps people navigate through the financial options available.
‘Ways to Pay’ takes students on a whistle-stop tour through the Government’s tuition fee loans, financial support for students with low incomes, the Access to Success Route, the OU’s own loan system, employer sponsorship and paying upfront, and is available at www.open.ac.uk/ways2pay
Notes to editors
Fees for students in England
The new fee levels are: £5,000 (120 credits, the equivalent studying at the rate of full-time), £2,500 (60 credits) and £1,250 (30 credits). An honours degree totals 360 credits.
Transitional arrangements are in place so most students already studying with the OU can continue to study at the previous fee level Students already studying with the OU will be able to continue to study on the previous fee level (around £1,610 for a standard 120 credits of study). The new part-time tuition fee loans are typically only available to new students.
Financing part-time study
In June, The Open University launched a new video to help people to understand the financial options available to Open University students studying under the new funding regime.
More information available online: www.open.ac.uk/ways2pay
*Research commissioned by The Open University in April 2012 showed that 71% of people interested in entering Higher Education in England were either unsure or felt they didn’t have enough information around the funding options available to them. Research undertaken by DJS Research on behalf of The Open University. Sample: 1,590 respondents who were interested in studying at University in the next five years.