Student finance

Worried about the cost of going to university or just keen to pick up a few money saving tips? This section is for you! It will point you to the right websites to sort out your student finance, give you some realistic budgeting tips and give you a rough idea of your earning potential as a doctor!

Just remember:

  • You won't be asked to pay fees upfront (unless you're a graduate).
  • You usually have to apply for loans and grants -- they don't happen automatically.
  • Medical students are considered just the same as all other undergraduates for funding purposes, until the fifth year of the course.
  • Because of the 2012 increase in fees, HYMS has introduced a means-tested bursary for eligible students.
The basics: Government support

All undergraduates starting their course in 2013 or later are offered a tuition fee loan and a maintenance loan. These have to be paid back.

  • The tuition fee loan covers your fees in full, up to £9000.
  • The maintenance loan is for living costs, up to £5500.

The amount you can get for these loans depends on your household income -- usually how much you or your parents earned in the last tax year.

You may also be eligible for a grant:

  • The maintenance grant is for living costs, up to £3354.

This also depends on your household income (it must be less than £42,611) but you don't have to pay it back.

On top of these, different universities offer different scholarships and bursaries, so check out the websites of medical schools that interest you and see what you can apply for!

What happens in the fifth year?

In the fifth year of your course, there will be some changes. This applies to those who normally live in England and are studying in the UK.

  • Your tuition fees will be paid by the NHS.
  • You can apply for an NHS bursary, based on your income.
  • You may be eligible for a £1000 grant which you don't have to repay -- this is not dependent on your income.
  • You can still apply for a maintenance loan (at a reduced amount).

This information was correct at the time of writing, September 2013. For up-to-date information, visit the Government's student finance pages.

Support calculator

Student Finance England provides a calculator which gives an estimate of what's available for loans and grants. It also takes into account scholarships and bursaries from your place of study. The estimate is based on the information you give, so the more detail you can provide, the more accurate the estimate will be.

Please note that an estimate from this calculator is not an offer of support! When you actually submit your application, you will need to provide some supporting evidence. Student Finance England will tell you what this is when you apply.

Paying it all back

Studying medicine can get you into a lot of debt, and this can seem very scary. But actually it's more manageable than it sounds -- here are some reasons why it's definitely worth it...

  • You must be earning over £21,000 per year before you pay any of it back -- if your pay drops below this, you stop making repayments.
  • You only pay 9% of your income on the amount over £21,000. So if you earned £25,000, you would pay 9% of £4000 per year.
  • Government-backed student loans are far more generous than high street loans. Interest is low -- it currently stands at inflation +3%.
  • You have the freedom to decide when to pay off your loan -- either in the 9% installments or all in one go, with no extra charge.
  • Repayments are taken out of your salary so you don't have to worry about missing payments!

For more detailed information, Student Finance England has produced a short leaflet, A guide to support for new full-time students in higher education 2013-2014.

You will probably end up paying off about £10 per month in your first year after graduation and about £50 a month in your second year. Compare this with the salary that a junior doctor can typically expect to earn, and it doesn't seem so bad!

What you can expect to earn

When you work as a graduate doctor, your yearly income will depend on what job you do, how long you've been doing it and how high up the career ladder you've progressed. But here are some typical figures for comparison.

  • In your first year out of medical school (FY1), you'll earn £22,636 per year -- about £1886 per month.
  • In your second year (FY2), your salary will rise to £28,076 -- about £2340 per month.
  • Speciality doctors and associate specialists earn between £37,176 and £69,325.
  • GPs earn between £54,319 and £81,969.
  • Consultants earn from £75,249 upwards.

All in all, these salary rates make paying off your student loan more manageable. You will probably end up paying off about £10 per month in your first year after graduation, about £50 a month in your second year and about £120 as a specialty doctor. Compare this with the salary that a junior doctor can typically expect to earn, and it doesn't seem so bad!

All these figures were correct in September 2013, but for the latest information, visit the NHS careers pay page.

Money-saving tips
  • Don't buy all your books for first year right away. You can borrow them from the university library when you arrive. Also, many students sent emails round trying to sell their old books, which ends up being a lot cheaper than buying everything new.
  • When it comes to books, everyone like to use different ones. So trial books by borrowing them from the library, and only buy books that you know you like.
  • In freshers' week, avoid paying to join lots of student societies that you're never going to turn up to!
  • Get into the habit of checking for student discounts wherever you go. You can get discounts on just about anything from clothes to travel, usually at least 10% and sometimes as much as 33% off.
  • Invest in a bike -- or walk! It'll save you loads on bus and taxi fares onto campus and into town.
  • When visiting friends or going home for the holidays, book train tickets well in advance as it's normally a lot cheaper.
  • Plan your meals for the week in advance,make a shopping list and stick to it! It can be easy in supermarkets to impulse-buy things you don't really need, but ask yourself: will you realistically use it? Cooking with a friend is also a great idea -- it's more fun and cheaper too!
  • Do your supermarket shopping late at night. Chances are, there'll some stuff nearing its use-by date which will be marked down in price. Also, consider trying supermarkets' own brands and value ranges, as these are cheaper than big brands and often taste just as good.
  • Don't order a takeaway every night! They're normally more expensive than cooking from scratch.
  • When socialising, take out the money you need and don't take your bank card. This helps to avoid spending excessive amounts.
  • If you're good with managing your time, you may find a part-time job can help with your finances. But be careful that it doesn't interfere with your studies. Medicine has more contact hours than most other courses, and HYMS recommends you don't take on more than about 8 hours of paid work per week.

The websites of Hull and York universities each have some great advice about how to make a realistic budget and how to stick to it!