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Is going to university worth the expense and student loan debt?

DESPERATE unis are begging youngsters to sign up – but is it worth the expense and student loan debt?

Many overseas students who would have taken up places this autumn are no longer doing so due to Covid, leaving admissions teams scrumming for British school leavers.

But here, the pandemic has thrown A-level results into chaos, with 39 per cent of grades downgraded — some plummeting from A to E.

Seething schools have demanded the system be ditched in favour of predicted grades while tearful students have been left scrambling to appeal.

However for some, results day was a cause for celebration – having secured them their place at university.

Harvey Badoe, 18, from Luton, hopes to become a crime-scene investigator.

He got the grades he needed and is off to study forensics and criminology at the Uni­versity of Bedfordshire.

He said “The debt doesn’t really bother me. I see a degree as an invest­ment in my future that will open doors. You can’t put a price on that.”

Jess Evans, 18, from Manches­ter, got two A*s and two As and is going to Cambridge to study psychology and behavioural sciences.

She said: “I’m not sure what job I want to do yet. The degree will help me decide.

“The debt is daunting but the life experience and education will be worth it.”

With univer­sities desperate to attract pupils, some have offered unconditional places as well as discounts and even laptops in exchange for a firm “yes”.

Here we examine key decisions facing the class of 2020 . . . 

A university degree can add hundreds of thousands to your lifetime earnings — so long as you do the right course.

Typical grads will earn £10,000 a year more by their thirties than those who left school after GCSEs, says money.co.uk.

Also, there are not many alternatives now. With the job queue growing, you can study while the econ­­omy recovers.

But uni will not be as much fun. Students in halls cannot have parties and lots of freshers’ events have been cancelled. Many courses will be taught online too.

If getting rich is your aim, check the earning potential of your course with the degree val­uation calculator on money.co.uk.

You will earn most doing medicine, dentistry or economics — much less after studying the creative arts, health and social care or physical sciences.

It also reveals which universities give the most earning power.
Men who study at London’s Imperial College, for example, have an average lifetime income of £788,000. But with Brunel in West London, it is £683,000.

Be wary. It might be flattering but can be because struggling universities want to fill places.

So-called “conditional un-conditional offers” mean you do not need good A-level grades so long as you put that university down as a firm choice.

It has become such a problem that the Office for Students banned the practice in July until next September.

It is worried students are being pressured into accepting places and won’t work hard for their A levels.

But the 30,000 places already offered to those starting this Sep­tember have not been withdrawn.

If you have taken one up, don’t be afraid to turn it down if you find a better option.

Just tell your school and the uni, and click “decline your place” in your Ucas Track account.

It is expensive but do not let that put you off chasing your dreams.

A three-year degree can cost up to £27,750 in fees and exceed £30,000 for digs.

Over a lifetime, you could end up with £100,000-plus of debt, factoring in interest.

In Wales, the support is more generous.

Students whose parents earn less than £18,370 get a full grant of around £8,100 and a loan of £1,710.

If you do well and get a high-earning job, the costs will easily be paid off.

The money comes directly from your pay. If you do not earn much, you will not have to pay much back, if anything. You only repay when you are earning £26,575 a year — at nine per cent of anything above that.

So if you earn £2,250 a month before tax, you will repay just £3 a month (£2,250 is £36 above the monthly threshold of £2,214, and nine per cent of £36 is £3).

If you have any remaining debt after 30 years — and most people will — it gets wiped. It might be less daunting to think of the cost as a tax, rather than a loan.

Not likely. In England parents are expected to help with rent and food costs. How much they pay depends on where you study and what they earn. The greater their income, the smaller your loan will be.

If they earn a combined £45,000, they will be expected to chip in £2,638. If less than £25,000, they do not have to contribute and you can get the full loan up to £9,203.

It might be tempting to, but weigh up if it will make any differ­ence.

Unless you’ve a starting salary of £55,000, you are unlikely to clear it.

You might just be throwing money at an impossible goal.

TWO thirds of furloughed workers are worse off than before the pandemic, compared to one in four still working, says credit reference agency Equifax.

A quarter of furloughed people feel far less secure about their finances now and one in ten believe they will NEVER recover. Money and job worries are having a grave impact on the mental health of those kept at home.

Equifax’s Lisa Hardstaff said: “Take small steps to feel more in control. Speak to friends and family. Talk to your bank and lenders.”

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