How will I fund my degree?
Funding your degree can be a daunting prospect, whatever your situation, but if you’ve decided that a career in orthoptics is for you, there is support out there.
We’ve therefore put together a brief guide to the forms of funding available to support you through your degree.
If you’re from the UK or are an EU student with settled status, you may apply for a loan to help pay your university fees and to help with living costs.
The process for applying and your entitlement is different if you’re:
- a student from England
- a student from Scotland
- a student from Wales
- a student from Northern Ireland
- a student from Jersey
- a student from Guernsey
- a student from Isle of Man
EU students without settled status may be entitled to a Tuition Fee Loan but are not eligible for help with living costs.
If you are an Irish citizen student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in the UK for the same rate of fees as British students in the UK and may be eligible for a maintenance grant under the Irish Student Grant Scheme.
Country Specific Support
NHS Learning Support Fund
This funding offers support with childcare, placement travel and accommodation costs and additional support for students who are in financial hardship:
- All pre-registration Orthoptics students receives £6,000 per year – £5,000 as eligible healthcare students, plus an extra £1,000 ‘specialist subject payment’
You may also be entitled to additional payments, depending upon your circumstances:
- Parental Support: Students with at least one dependent child can claim £2,000 per academic year. Importantly, this will not affect your access to child support or other means of funding through your higher education provider or other sources.
- Travel and Dual Accommodation Expenses: Students who are required to travel to placements as part of their study are eligible for reimbursement of additional travel and accommodation costs.
- Exceptional Support Fund: Students experiencing financial hardship may be eligible for additional support of up to £3,000.
Full information is available on the government website.
Childcare Grant: Available to full-time students that have dependable children to help with the cost of childcare during term time and holidays. A childcare grant doesn’t have to be paid back.
Parents’ Learning Allowance: This is an extra element of funding and not included in your student loan, which also means that you don’t have to pay it back. As with most other grants, the amount you receive from the Parents’ Learning Allowance depends on your household income. You can apply for this as well as the Childcare grant.
* Unlike other things that have to be done prior to you starting your course, both the Childcare Grant and the Parents’ Learning Allowance can be applied for during your course.
Adult Dependant’s Grant: If you’re a full-time student in higher education and an adult depends on you financially, you can apply for an Adult Dependants’ Grant. The grant does not have to be paid back and is paid on top of your other student finance.
Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs): Theses are for students who may incur extra costs because of a mental health problem, long term illness or disability. You can get the allowances on top of your other student finance. You will not need to repay DSAs.
Living Cost Grant: Available to lone parents and those with dependent adults that you act as a carer for.
Disabled Student’s Allowance: This is available for students who may incur extra costs when studying, due to their impairment.
AHP Practical Placement Expenses: – Students on placement in Scotland are entitled to claim back expenses from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland to cover this.
It is worth noting that you do not have to pay university fees in Scotland if it is your first undergraduate degree or you are from Scotland. The fees are paid by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).
What other funding is available?
Mature students under 25 years old
You may be able to get extra money if you are under 25, have no contact with your parents and support yourself. For more information on how to be assessed as an independent student, take a look at the Standalone Student Finance Guide.
Bursaries, scholarships and hardship funds
Students can apply for money directly from their university or on top of any other student finance – you don’t have to pay this money back.
Each university or college has their own rules about bursaries, scholarships and awards:
The Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers also offer a bursary for those studying courses in Orthoptics. Details are released towards the beginning of the academic year via their website.
Orthoptic Education Fund (OEF)
The BIOS OEF provides grants to help orthoptic students facing unexpected financial hardship that risks preventing them from continuing their studies.
You can find out more, including how to apply, here.
Orthoptic students can make a new Universal Credit claim if any of the following apply:
- you live with your partner and they’re eligible for Universal Credit
- you’re responsible for a child, either as a single person or as a couple
- you’re disabled and entitled to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Armed Forces Independence Payment
Student Fee Loans are excluded from means testing of Universal Credit awards. However, maintenance loans will be considered.
You may get a Special Support Loan if you get or qualify for Universal Credit. These loans provide help towards costs of study, such as for books, equipment and travel. You’ll be told if you can get the Loan when you apply for student finance.
Find out more about universal credit here.
Council Tax Exemption
Full-time students are exempt from paying council tax, but a property will only be exempt if all residents are full-time students.