I was lucky enough to pursue my further education at university. I did a degree in politics and sociology, which I truly enjoyed, and I believe the experience in terms of the learning, and the life experience of spending time at university, meeting people from all walks of life placed me in good stead in my future career, first in teaching, and then in writing. But when I say that I was lucky, I also mean financially. As a student I lived in the time when you could still get a government grant to pay for your courses, and then a student grant that provided your finance for your every day living, accommodation, food etc. There were also low interest student loans to supplement your grants and help your day to day life easier.
Further education is expensive. Universities in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland can charge up to £9,250 a year for undergraduate tuition; for accelerated degrees that are completed quicker, universities in England can charge up to £11,100. In the USA, in 2018/19 studying at a state college cost an average of $10,230 for state residents, and $26,290 for everyone else. Private non-profit colleges cost an average of $35,830. This sort of outlay can sound daunting, especially at the age of 18, but there is help at hand.
In the US you can apply for a scholarship like the Nancy Etz Scholarship. In order to qualify, you must be either currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program or be a current high school senior that has been accepted into a college or university. Applying is quite simple, it takes the form of completing an open ended essay and filling in an online form but could get you $1000 towards your fees.
In the UK you can also apply for financial help in order to pay for your courses. The good news on the tuition fees is that they don’t have to be paid for upfront, as there is the Tuition Fee Loan scheme which covers the full cost of your learning, being paid directly to your chosen university or college. This loan does not have to be repaid until the course is finished and the borrower is earning more than £21,000 a year, giving you time to find work and get back on your feet after your studying ends. The tuition fee loan is available for students of all ages, so it applies if you are returning as a mature student.
The tuition fee loan pays for your course, but you will still obviously need money to live on, for accommodation, books and your general day to day living expenses during term time. For this, you can look at taking a government Maintenance Loan, or look for part time work to support your income whilst you are studying. This is something I did myself whilst I was doing my first degree, working in a local shop between lectures.
It has become more expensive to follow a university or college education, but this doesn’t mean that it is something you shouldn’t consider. The learning and life experiences are something that will enrich your future life and plans.