How will I fund my degree?2019-09-25T11:59:48+01:00

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.


Student Loans

You only start repaying once you earn over a certain amount. The size of your monthly repayments will depend on how much you earn, not what you owe

You’ll repay 9% of your income over the repayment threshold, which is currently £25,725 a year, £2,143 a month or £494 a week. If your income changes, either rising or falling, your repayment amounts will automatically change to reflect this.

For a newly qualified orthoptist, starting on a band 5, salary is currently £24,214. Under the current agenda for change salary guidance, a newly qualified orthoptic student wouldn’t start to repay their student loan until they had 3 years’ experience, provided that this was their only source of income.

Tuition Fee Loan

Your university or college sets your tuition fee, and the loan is paid directly to them.  For an orthoptic student starting in the academic year 2019/20, the tuition fee loan amount is up to £9,250.

When will I pay it back?

A newly qualified orthoptist will usually start their career journey on pay point 16 of a band 5, earning £24,214 a year (2019/20). This means that you will not have to start paying back your student loans immediately.

How much you do repay is based on your earnings and not what you owe.

See the table below as an example:

Full repayments information can be found here.

After 30 years any remaining debt is wiped. You stop owing either when you’ve cleared the debt, or when 30 years (from the April after graduation) have passed, whichever comes first. If you never get a job earning over the threshold, it means you won’t have repaid a penny.

Further information:

What you repay solely depends on what you earn after university. In effect this is, financially at least, a ‘no win, no fee’ education”

Read more on student loan mythbusting from Martin Lewis ( here.

What other funding is available?

Learning Support Fund

Provided by the NHS Business Service Authority, this funding offers support with childcare, placement travel and accommodation costs and additional support for students who are in financial hardship:

  • Child Dependants Allowance: Students with at least one dependent child can claim £1000 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.

Students with children or dependant adults

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.

The maximum you can get is:

  • up to £169.31 a week for 1 child
  • up to £290.27 a week for 2 or more children

Find out more here.

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. The maximum available to each individual is £1,470 per year and it is also worth bearing in mind that 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.

Find out more here.

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 of up to £3,007.

The grant does not have to be paid back and is paid on top of your other student finance.

Find out more here.

Help if you’re a student with a learning difficulty, health problem or disability

You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) to cover some of the extra costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability.

The general allowance element is currently up to £1,899.  This amount can significantly increase if you require specialist equipment for example.

You can get the allowances on top of your other student finance. You will not need to repay DSAs.

Find out more here.

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

A good place to start is to contact Student Services at your chosen university:

You can find more information on University hardship funds here.

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 Benevolent Fund

The Orthoptic Benevolent Fund provides grants and interest-free loans to help orthoptists in difficult financial situations or to support them in their training.

You can find out more, including how to apply, here.

Universal Credit

(replaces Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support)

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.

If you receive a Special Support Loan (see below), this will not be deducted from your Universal Credit.

Find out more about universal credit here.

Special Support Loan

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.

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.

Funding from Charitable Trusts

Many charities offer one-off payments that do not have to be paid back.  Help is based on where you live, your age, gender, current or past jobs, health condition and nationality.

Use the search tool here to find out what help is available in your area.

Case study

A single parent, living outside London, with more than one dependent child, on a low income could be entitled to:

  • up to £9,250 per year fee loan (repayable when earning over £25,725)
  • up to £7, 529 per year maintenance loan (repayable when earning over £25,725)
  • £1000 a year Child Dependants Allowance
  • up to £290.27 a week childcare grant
  • up to £1,716 per year Parents’ Learning Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit/Universal Credit (for new applications)
  • Reimbursement of additional travel and accommodation costs incurred during study placements
  • Extra support of up to £3000 if you experience financial hardship during your studies as well as access to your university’s hardship fund and bursaries
  • Special support loan to help with the costs of books and equipment

Visit the website to find out more about the financial support available for studying orthoptics.

There is also a helpful student finance calculator: