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What the scrapping means for university of tuition fee grants students in Wales... Our Education Editor Gareth Evans compares radical proposed changes to university student funding with the system currently operating in Wales...

RADICAL plans to overhaul student finance in Wales will see tuition fee grants replaced by support for living costs.

But how does it compare to the financial support currently available to students and who is in line to benefit? Financial support for higher education comes in many forms and depends on where you will be studying, your household income and the year you start your studies.

Some funding, such as loans, will need to be paid back. Other forms of funding, such as grants or bursaries, don't need to be paid back.

Under the current system in Wales, students may be entitled to: | Tuition fee loan/grant Universities and colleges can charge up to PS9,000 a year in tuition fees, but you can get a tuition fee loan of up to PS3,810 and a fee grant of up to PS5,190 to help pay the fee charged by your university or college.

The fee grant is paid for by the Welsh Government.

Maintenance loan This is available to help with living costs you'll have while studying and covers things like food, books and rent.

For the 2015-16 academic year, the total you can be loaned for living at home is PS4,162.

Students living in London can claim PS7,532; those living overseas are offered PS6,410; and students studying elsewhere can get PS5,376.

Welsh Government learning grant Similar to the maintenance loan, the learning grant is designed to help students with living costs but is based solely on household income.

The maximum amount available through the learning grant is PS5,161.

You can get the full amount if your household income is PS18,370 or less.

You are eligible for a decreasing amount the higher your household income is, up to PS50,020.

Students will be denied a grant if their household income is PS50,021 or over.

Special support grant You may be eligible if you're a single parent, your partner is also a student or you have certain disabilities. The amount you can get is the same as the Welsh Government learning grant, but it won't reduce how much you receive in maintenance loan.

Childcare grant You can receive a childcare grant of up to 85% of the cost of your childcare if you have children in registered and approved childcare. You won't qualify for this grant if either you or your partner claims the childcare element of Working Tax Credits, Universal Credit or NHSfunded childcare grants.

The maximum childcare grant is around PS161 a week for one child or PS274 a week for two or more children.

Your entitlement to the childcare grant depends on your income, that of your partner, children and any other dependants.

Parents' learning allowance Extra help intended to cover some of the additional costs incurred by students who have children.

The maximum amount you can get is PS1,557 per year.

You can only apply for the learning allowance if you have one or more children who depend on you, regardless of their age.

Adult dependants' grant The maximum amount you can get is PS2,732 per year.

You can only apply for the dependants' grant if you have a partner or another adult who is financially dependent on you; and you can only do so once, irrespective of the number of adult dependants.

The amount of dependants' grant available to you depends on your income, that of your partner and any other dependants.

The income of the adult who is dependent on you must be no more than PS3,923.

Disabled students' allowances Are available if you have a disability, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty. Funding is designed to support students who may not have otherwise been able to attend a higher education course.

There are four types of disabled students' allowances - non-helper medical allowance (max PS21,181 per year); specialist equipment allow-ance (max PS5,332 for the whole course); other disability-related expenditure allowance (max PS1,785 per year); and disability-related travel (defined as reasonable spending on travel costs incurred as a result of the student's condition).

Under the new system, students may be entitled to: | Tuition fee loans The current tuition fee grant for full-time undergraduate students is replaced with an additional student loan, up to a maximum fee level of PS9,000.

Loan repayments would continue at a rate of 9% of the graduate salary above PS21,000 (frozen until 2021) and the discount rate applied to repayments set by the Treasury (currently 0.7%).

Non-means-tested maintenance grant A PS1,000-a-year universal maintenance grant will be available to all full-time Welsh-domiciled students, regardless of their background.

Means-tested grant to cover living costs The top rate of maintenance grant for a student living away from home outside London, should be equivalent to the National Living Wage - based on 37.5 hours per week over a 30-week period (currently PS8,100).

A maximum total grant of 25% more (PS10,125) to be available for a student living away from home in London and 15% less (PS6,885) for students living at home.

It means families with household incomes of more than PS80,000 would receive only PS1,000 a year.

They would be required to pay the rest of their tuition fees back in full, with the help of a loan.

Families with household incomes of less than PS20,000 would receive the PS1,000 non-means-tested maintenance grant, plus the maximum PS8,100 means-tested maintenance grant.

Maintenance loans will still be available for those not eligible for the grant.

Part-time students will receive on a pro-rata basis a modified version of the maintenance support available for full-time undergraduate students.

They will be eligible for a PS1,000 non-means-tested maintenance grant, with additional means-tested grant up to a maximum based on PS6,000 full-time equivalent, but with the maximum grant available up to a PS25,000 household income.

Postgraduate students will receive the same level of maintenance and tuition fee support as undergraduate students (a tuition fee loan up to the current PS9,000 maximum; a nonmeans-tested maintenance grant; and a means-tested grant or nonmeans-tested loan).

Targeted support The new funding system recommends that existing grant support for other areas, such as childcare and disabled students' allowances, should remain in its current format.


Who will be the winners and losers following the shakeup in financial help for students in Wales?
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 29, 2016
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