Debt is one of the major reasons teenagers around the country are reluctant to think of university as the first choice for the next step of their lives after sixth form or college. For Welsh students around the country they have to pay £3000 a year for their tuition fees for each year of their course. Before Welsh students have even thought about the cost of living at university they are £9,000 in debt from their course fees alone. Whereas students from England have to be a whooping £9,000 for every year of their course which includes a year they might take out for studies abroad. English students have a debt of £27,000 before they have toted up the cost of living at university or commuting from home over a 3 to 4 year period.
Maintenance loans are provided by English and Welsh Governments to assist students and their families with the cost of rent, food, bills and travel amongst other aspects of university life. Student Finance England and Student Finance Wales are the companies which provide maintenance loans for students. The amount of loan will vary from student to student depending on the financial income of their parents or guardians. Depending on which financial bracket the income falls into, depends on how much maintenance loan the student will receive.
What? – From the 2014/2015 academic year Student Finance Wales introduced a scheme which was designed to help students minimise their debt while or when they leave university. Although almost sounding too good to be true, a Welsh student can pay £5 to Student Finance Wales and this will erase £1500 of their debt they have acquired by taking out a maintenance loan. This process cannot be repeated for each year at university it will only be applied to the first loan the student took out upon starting their studies at a university.
How? – In order to perform this process the student will need to contact Student Finance Wales via telephone. When contacting student finance the student will need their 11 digit customer reference number which is usually located at the top right of documents sent from Student Finance Wales. Parents and Guardians can perform this process for the student if they are not sure about how to go about successfully contacting student finances services. The contact number for SFW can be found on their website and can be accessed via Google.
Key Facts – Students will not be eligible if they have any outstanding charges, costs, expenses or penalties in relation to their loan or if they are in breach of their loan agreement. The partial cancellation will be £1,500 unless the student has taken out a smaller Maintenance Loan. If they borrowed less than £1,500, the partial cancellation will be less – in line with the amount borrowed. Students living in Wales are only entitled to claim partial cancellation once. After they’ve made the first repayment of their student loan we’ll automatically cancel up to £1,500 of the Maintenance Loan. This repayment can either be made through the student’s employer or voluntarily through the Student Loans Company. To benefit fully from the partial cancellation, Welsh students can make a minimum voluntary payment of £5 when they have received £1,500 worth of Maintenance Loan.
Why? – The process is a simple and effective way of clearing some of the debt, a student can acquire during their studies at university. Rather than working extra shifts at your part time job or even trying to get a well-paid graduate job after university just paying five pounds to SFW can write off a third of your yearly maintenance loan. This is accessible to any Welsh student who has taken out a maintenance loan in 2014/2015 however it is subject to approval of the National Assembly Wales. The amount of debt which is cancelled is up to the amount of £1500 and is erased by the Welsh Government.
Rob Ellis works in the Student Services Department at the University and has some wise advice regarding the repayment plan. Ellis stated “The cancellation can only be applied once and is taken from the current balance that has been paid to the student. Therefore it is advisable that students wait until they have received at least £1500 of Maintenance Loan funding before making the early repayment.” For any further information about the scheme go to the Student Finance Wales website or contact them via telephone or by email.