I lived alone when I first embarked on my studies. I was four years into my mortgage and earning a pittance but still I decided that stumping up for a degree was a worthy investment of what little disposable income I had. Cost was the single most important factor in deciding whether I could afford to do the degree or not but – and without sounding trite – the OU couldn’t have made it simpler for me.
At the time I started, the cost of a 60 point module seemed a lot to fork out for when you’re lucky if you have £100 a month disposable income so I started researching the payment options available. That’s when I stumbled across OUSBA – the Open University Student Budget Account. OUSBA turned out to be the OU’s gift to me from the gods. It works like a ‘sort of’ loan in that the cost of your fees are spread out over the duration of your module. There’s a small amount of interest but it’s minimal compared to a bank loan.
'It’s the best way to pay if you don’t want to have to take out a loan but can’t afford to pay upfront'
Of course the cost of a module is increasing in the new fees regime but the OUSBA account is still a tremendous provision from the OU and I believe it’s the best way to pay if you don’t want to have to take out a loan but can’t afford to pay upfront. I can say in all honesty that if it weren’t for my OUSBA account I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford my studies.
Of course there are other options for paying – either paying upfront or taking out one of the government tuition fee loans or getting sponsored by your employer. Unfortunately the latter wasn’t ever an option for me as my degree was completely unrelated to my job but if it had been then I would definitely have asked because a lot of the time employers can get grants from training companies for your fees anyway. There’s never any harm in asking. Shy bairns get nowt, as my mother always says.
'It somewhat irritates me when I hear people saying that studying is too expensive'
I think the increase in undergraduate fees is spooking a lot of people and making them assume they’ll not be able to afford to study. This is such a misnomer and it somewhat irritates me when I hear people saying that studying is too expensive. It irritates me even more when I hear grumblings about the tuition fee loans – the repayment is a minimal percentage of anything you earn over £21k so if you don’t earn over £21k you don’t pay anything back and if you earn £30k you only pay back £67 a month. That sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me in exchange for a qualification which will no doubt increase in worth as fewer people decide to do them because of the ‘cost implication’ *rolls eyes*.
OUSBA in particular however, is my lifeline. I’m not so keen on the idea of taking out a long term loan when if I do a bit of penny pinching I can comfortably afford the instalments on an OUSBA account so if there’s a way you can afford to pay by instalments then I’d strongly urge the use of this incredible provision by the OU.
'No excuse could justify me NOT getting the education I craved and needed'
It doesn’t really matter what payment method people decide upon to pay for their education though, the important point is that there are plenty of ways to do so and many of them are incredibly affordable. There’s a method for every scenario – low income (Access to Success), no income (tuition fee loan), working student (OUSBA) or career improver (employer sponsorship). Really, there’s not a lot left in the excuse bucket if you’re trying to talk yourself out of studying. I realised that before I even started studying and decided that no excuse could justify me NOT getting the education I craved and needed. I have to say, that was definitely one of the more sensible decisions I’ve ever made in my lifetime.
For those of you thinking about studying with the OU, here’s a handy little video which explains the different ways to pay for OU study (in England only), and you can find more information here.
If you’re a current student, you’ll find more info about planning your studies here.