Placement years are becoming increasingly popular for students studying a variety of subjects because they’re mega useful for getting real work experience under your belt and building up your contacts in the industry who may be interested in offering you a job in the future.
Placement years are also referred to as a sandwich course, by the way, because your work placement will be ‘sandwiched’ in between your second and final year. They’re common among business subjects but are expanding into other subject areas such as engineering, maths and some humanities subjects.
Sound like something you’d like to do? Yes? Good. Best to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of a sandwich course or placement year by clicking that link. Right now we’re gonna tell you all about how student finance works whilst you’re on a placement.
Do I Still Need to Pay Tuition Fees?
You might think that because you aren’t at university for the year, you won’t have to pay a penny in tuition fees. Think again placement year student. As you’re still enrolled at the university and your placement has been organised through your university you’ll have to pay a reduced amount.
If you started your university adventure after 1 September 2012 and are taking a placement year, the tuition fees you will pay will be set at 20% of what you’re currently paying. So if your fees are £9000 a year, you’ll pay a maximum of £1800 in tuition fees.
What About a Maintenance Loan?
Even if your placement is paid (which it bloomin’ well should be and the vast majority of placements are paid), you can be eligible to get a bit of extra cash in the form of the trusty maintenance loan. This is a significantly reduced amount though (student finance just don’t want you to be a big money baller, we’re sorry) as you’re also getting paid at the same.
How much maintenance loan you receive depends on where you’re planning on staying during your placement year. For instance, it will be slightly less if you live at home (around £1760) as opposed to living in another part of the UK (around £2350). Understandably, you’ll get more if you’re staying in London (around £3300).
Will I Still Receive Bursaries & Scholarships?
This depends entirely on what university you go to (and essentially, how kind they are). Best to check with your university on this one, guys.
I’m Taking My Placement Abroad
If you’re jetting off to an exotic location within the EU for your placement year, you are eligible for a maintenance loan of up to £6600. There’s a maintenance grant of up to £3387 available too, but this is assessed against your family’s income.
If you’re going outside of the EU, the maximum maintenance loan you can get your mitts on is £2807.
What’s the Deal with Paying Tax?
Even though you’re still classed as a student, if you earn over £10,600 on your placement year you’ll have to pay income tax. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. You can still claim council tax exemption if you’re living with your parents, student halls or a rented property where all other tenants are full-time students. Therefore, be careful if you decide to get a room for a year with full-time working professionals as you’ll most likely have to pay council tax.
Undertaking a placement year is bags of fun, but there’s a lot of financial things to take into account. Just make sure you know your stuff and how your bank balance will be affected.