English student loans system eased to benefit Bermudians
Bermudians are to become eligible for student loans in England - even if they have never lived there.
The UK government announced that students from some British Overseas Territories – including Bermuda – will be eligible for tuition fee loans for undergraduate and post graduate courses from the start of the 2022-23 academic year.
Victoria Cunningham, a board member of the Bermuda Foundation for Insurance Studies, said: “This is a game changer for those students who otherwise would not be able to afford the tuition fees at British institutions.”
The loans in the past were only allowed to be made if students had lived in the UK for three years before they started an undergraduate degree.
But students resident in some UK Overseas Territories will be able satisfy the three-year ordinary residence requirement in the UK, the Crown Dependencies or specified UK Overseas Territories immediately, as long as part of the period was spent in an Overseas Territory.
A tuition fee loan covers the cost of university or college fees and is paid to the institution.
The loan is not dependent on household income and people are expected to start repayment after they graduate and start work.
Student loans have much more favourable terms than commercial loans and offer better borrower protections.
Lower-earning borrowers are protected because no repayments are required until they are earning above the relevant repayment threshold amount.
The change was made to demonstrate the UK government’s support for economic development in the UK Overseas Territories.
Bermudian students also benefit from the same fee scales as UK students, rather than the much higher international student rates.
The rates for UK-based students, however, have increased over the years and are now more than $12,000.
Ms Cunningham is also a member of the BFIS School’s Outreach team, which manages the Bermuda Scholarships website.
She said: “Our ultimate goal is to get as many of our students into further education as we can. There are more than 350 scholarships available on the website annually. However, many of these are financial-need and academic-excellence based.
“For students who are either not eligible for these scholarships or unable to secure the full amount of funding, these tuition fee loans offer another avenue to pursue to reduce the financial burden.”
More information on the repayment of student loans can be found here.