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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Student loans: What you need to know

The new academic year is due to start in just a few weeks. From primary school to postgraduate studies, preparations for the first lecture, class, workshop and seminar are beginning. Now that thousands upon thousands of students know which university they are going to, the time to start getting ready for higher education for them is now.

A big part of being prepared for a three or four-year undergraduate course is sorting out personal finances. Living away from home in private accommodation or the halls of residence will cost money, so it’s important to make sure that the funds are there to pay for everything from tuition fees to the accommodation.

Student Loans are a necessity for any student who needs to cover the cost and saving in every area of life including studies is averagely impossible, but how do they work, are they as helpful as they seem and what happens when they need to be paid back? Here, we go through the ins and outs in an easy-to-understand way.

What are they?

Student Loans come in two parts: Tuition Loans and Maintenance Loans. The first one covers tuition fees in their entirety, while the second meets the cost of accommodation, food and other essentials. The amount loaned each year is equivalent to the tuition fees paid for Tuition Loans, while the most loaned for maintenance is £5,500 (£7,675 in London).

The application process

Nowadays, you have to apply for a loan online via the website. You need your home address, your passport details and proof of your parents’ income in order to get the amount of money you’re entitled to.

Before the start of every academic year, you need to ensure that if your circumstances change, you visit this site to make any necessary amendments to your application. You also need to be wary of making the following common mistakes:

  • Using your Maintenance Loan to pay for your tuition fees
  • Thinking your loan will affect your credit score – it doesn’t!
  • Over/underestimate the amount needed for either loan

Keeping finances under control

On top of the money received in the form of loans, you might have to get an overdraft facility from your bank. Managing your overdraft can be hard, but as Dan Bowen said in the Guardian:

“It is really important to check your account provides an interest-free overdraft, rather than just assuming it will do so. Also, make sure you know the limit, as charges for exceeding your overdraft are high.”

Caution is advisable when using an overdraft. It should only be used in emergency situations.

Credit Rating and eligibility

Your credit score is determined by numerous factors. Many believe that a credit score can affect you from getting a student loan but this is far from true. Past debts play a big role in a credit score result. “As long as you don’t owe the Student Loan Company anything already, you should be fine. Having a bad credit rating has no impact whatsoever on your eligibility for a loan, which will come as a relief to many people who have a history of bad financial management. You can make any cuts to increase you’re saving, then set up a budget for essentials and stick to it,” says a spokesperson from Yorkshire Building Society. Repayments are only taken from future earnings, which will come as a relief to those of you with concerns about your credit rating.

Student Loan repayment

This isn’t something that should really be contemplated until your course has been completed, but the good thing about student loans is that repayments are manageable. The amount you repay back every month depends entirely on how much you earn. Here is how repayments work:

  • You have to pay something back if earning at least £21,000 a year
  • Anyone earning between £21,000-£25,000 will have to pay around £30 a month back
  • Anyone earning up to £30,000 will have to pay £67.50 a month
  • Anyone over £40,000 per annum has to pay back £142.50 a month, equating to £1,710 a year

The loan repayments equate to 9% of the amount which someone is over the threshold, which is then divided into 12 monthly payments. If you get in touch with the Student Loans Company, which provides all student loans sanctioned by the government, you can pay back more than usual if you feel the need to.

Student debts are typically around the £25,000 mark after a three-year-course reaches its conclusion. This may sound like a lot, but they are manageable, making them a ‘good debt’. This means that you have little to worry about as repayments aren’t urgent.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Hospitality Guild launches campaign and competition to promote careers in Food and Beverage Service

hospitality-guild-logoThe Hospitality Guild has launched a video and competition to raise awareness of the excellent career opportunities in Food and Beverage Service.

Starring former Centre of Excellence student Bunmi Okolosi and shot on location at South Downs College, Galvin at Windows, Babylon at the Roof Gardens, The Lockhart and Cinnamon Kitchen, the video aims to highlight some of the exciting places that a career front of house can take an individual.

The ultimate objective of the campaign is to encourage students to sign up on a Food and Beverage Service course at one of the Hospitality Guild Accredited Centres of Excellence; New College Nottingham, City College Norwich, Bournemouth and Poole College, University College Birmingham, Runshaw College and South Downs College.

As an added incentive, the Guild are offering four lucky students the chance to experience working life at one of the UK's best restaurants with one overall winner jetting off to experience working at a high profile establishment in Europe with all expenses paid.

Suzy Jackson, executive director of the Hospitality Guild said: “Interest in Food and Beverage Service has been growing of late, helped by high profile TV shows like Michel Roux’s Service and by events like National Waiters Day. This is brilliant news for this fast-moving sector which has so many exceptional opportunities for fast career advancement.

“People like Bunmi are fabulous ambassadors for this role – he’s been in the sector since graduating from college and has now opened his own business. It’s our aim to show young people and their parents that Food and Beverage Service can be a great, fulfilling career, not just a job.”

To watch the video, enter the competition and find out more, visit

Friday, 16 August 2013

5 Rewarding Careers (That Don't Require Much Schooling)

Entering a university institution can spark a drive for excellence or a complete dread when expecting what’s required to complete a degree – mainly: potential loans you may need to take on. Student loans are becoming such an immense problem that many have turned away from the idea of striving for their Bachelor’s (let alone Master’s) and, instead, have begun opting for careers that require less schooling but with equally rewarding benefits and pay.

The following is a cross selection of some of those careers that do not require long lengths of schooling:

1. Massage Therapist

Massage therapy has many different styles and descriptions but at its core it’s the practice of manipulating body tissue, such as muscles, connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments, to encourage health and well-being.

If you’ve ever received a massage, then you’re on the right track to understanding the basics of this career.
Massage therapy schools offer a wide range of styles from the well-known “Swedish” massage to other types like Thai or “Lomi Lomi”. Likewise, there are many different techniques such as kneading, vibration, directed breathing, and so many more. Schooling can be completed in under a year.

Entering this field of work can see you at a median income of £25,000+.

2. Police Officer

Police officers enforce laws, collect evidence, pursue criminals, and sometimes testify in court.

No doubt you have a firm understanding of the roles held by police offers but did you know that it’s a career that doesn’t require a hefty amount of schooling? Police academies are in place to allow individuals to enter this career as long as they possess the basic requirements; such as being able to meet the physical demands.

Of course, additional education is encouraged and to reach higher levels within law enforcement sometimes requires a degree but the average requirements to join the MPS is achievable to anyone with the will and drive.

The median income for a police officer is around £37,000 a year for a sergeant.

3. Registered Nurse

Registered nurses provide a range of duties including:
·  Recording patient information
·  Giving patient medicines
·  Observe and record patients
·  Teach patients about their injuries or ailments
·  Monitor medical equipment

Becoming a registered nurse has a base requirement of an associate’s degree though higher levels of opportunities into specific areas of nursing, such as cardiovascular, genetics, rehabilitation, and others, require additional work experience and training.

Demand for registered nurses have continued to climb, dramatically, as our older generation has begun to make the move into retirement which means this job outlook is looking very lucrative to those that cannot commit (or afford) to take on crippling student loans.

Those seeking to become a registered nurse can expect a median income of £30,000+ a year.

4. Computer Support Specialist

Computers are all around us but despite our regular access it’s very common to find a great deal of individuals that do not have a clue about how to fix their computer (or systems) when it’s on the fritz; that’s where computer support specialists come in.

Computer support specialists do not require a degree (though some college experience is encouraged); there are many training courses online and at traditional institutes that allow you to streamline your entry to the career through technical training and hands-on experience.

Duties include such items as:
·  Troubleshooting network connections
·  Performing regular maintenance
·  Repairing devices

The role will take you in many different directions depending on your work environment and specialty but you can expect a median income to be an attractive £46,000+ a year (and growing).

5. Estate Agent

Most people train on the job or in-house to become an estate agent, however, obtaining some qualification or certification, such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), can give you a leg up against competition when applying for positions.

The career can go into many different branches such as becoming an agent, broker, or even taking an entrepreneurial role and starting your own office. The role, in general, will be very fulfilling and rewarding if you’re the type that wants to set your own hours and be your own boss.

The average median income for a property agent or broker is around £35,000+ a year.

In all, you can see that not all rewarding careers require you to make a heavy commitment to schooling. Explore the various options and measure the value of one of the careers listed in this post versus the time committed to others.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Guide to Clearing

Didn't get the grades you expected? Don't panic! Over 55,000 students found their place last year through clearing. Use this handy guide by MiddlesexUniversity to help make the most of your situation.
Guide to Clearing

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Applying to U.S. Universities: What You Need to Know About SAT Prep Courses and Strategies

You know the usual descriptions of standardized tests.  Everybody who has made it through them uses the same general terms.

A rite of passage.  A means to an end.  A necessary step. 

A necessary evil?

If attending university in the U.S. is on your mind, you will, in fact, get to manoeuvre through the SAT, and it will have an impact on your admissions, scholarship, and course future.  We all know people with marginal SAT scores who ended up very successful in college (and life), but the fact remains that they did have to get a minimum score in order to reach those goals.

The important thing about it is that it does not have to be as harsh as some people make it sound.  Sure, it's a long day of brain-straining activity, but you can reduce the strain if you start thinking about preparing for the SAT as a process that is more than just filling out the registration, paying the fee, and showing up on time with the right stuff.

Those months before test day is the time you need to look into SAT prep courses, utilizing Huntington courses to help prep yourself for the kinds of knowledge you will be tested on.  This will make it much easier for you to complete the transition to an education across the pond.

Targeted Learning
We've all studied for a test and ended up finding that it didn't cover a large area of material that we stayed up late to study.  It can be pretty disheartening, especially when you needed to spend more time on other topics.

That is even more true with the SAT.  It's easy to find out what the general content areas are on the SAT.  But how specific can you get without expert help?  Will you need to know geometric formulas?  Should you be memorizing the periodic table of the elements?  What knowledge of America should a student from the UK have?

Good news: A quality preparation course will help you arrive on test day with a good handle on what you'll be expected to know--and maybe just as important, what you won't be expected to know.

By the way, it won't be good enough to talk to someone who slugged through the SAT two years ago, or even last year.  The test is constantly evolving and updating in order to be "cheat-proof" and to be a more accurate measure of knowledge and aptitude.  So whatever the Class of '11 says about their test experience may be right out the window.  Stick with SAT prep courses to get your SAT updates and tips.

Fewer Surprises
A merciful teacher will inform you that you'll be dealing with a multiple-choice or short answer format.  The SAT is all multiple-choice, of course, but how are the questions structured?  Will it have "all of the above" or "none of the above"? 

A quality test prep course will teach you how to identify what they are really asking.  You'll learn to sort through the irrelevant information and zero in on what matters.  They'll teach you to identify the "red herring" answers and how to avoid confusion from the incorrect choices the test offers.

Higher Comfort Level
A relaxed brain is an effective brain.  Imagine that you'll be asked to take a test where you'll do simple math problems.  If you do well, you'll get a big, juicy scholarship to study whatever you want, wherever you want to study it.  The trick?  You must work them on horseback.

It sounds crazy, but the point is this:  You're being tested on the math, not the horsemanship.  You don't need help with the math, but you desperately need training on handling a four-legged partner.  Before you take that test, you'll get some riding lessons, right?

It's the same with the SAT.  It's about testing your aptitude, not your ability to take a test.  Professional test prep services will provide you with an increased familiarity with the test structure that will allow you to focus on the question being asked, not on how it is being asked.  You'll also learn the uniquely American elements of the test, which will reduce your international disadvantage.  And that's how you get correct answers.

Don't bank on your own knowledge.  Find a good prep course, take it, and then head to Heathrow.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Top ten student life hacks

Save time and money with our Uni-versal Top 10 Student Hacks and a 9 month Student Broadband Deal from Virgin Media
Uni-Versal Tips | Top Ten Student Life Hacks