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Having taken GCSEs, the options open to young people at 16 are various. Exciting as this is, the choices made at this age will affect the university course or type of job you can apply for later, so it’s important that young people think seriously at this time about their future career.

Fortunately there is some excellent advice available on the internet (see below). However don’t hold back in asking the views of family and friends as well as individuals in your local community you respect or are working in a profession that interests you.

Useful information on your options can be found on the National Union of Students website, and the University and College Admission Service website.

Young people need to stay in learning or training until the age of 18 but don’t need to stay in school. The important thing is that they continue to learn.

Options for young people are:
  • Studying for ‘A’ levels or the 'IB' full-time in a school, College or with a training provider
  • Working or volunteering, combined with part-time education or training
  • Taking up an apprenticeship or traineeship.

There is also a useful website where parents can go to fully understand the options their children have. See careersadviceforparents.

Whilst there are no tuition fees for studying for ‘A’ levels, having hungry, growing teenagers at home, keen to learn to drive and increasingly enjoying extra-curricular activities means they will still eat into your finances. Whilst many take on part-time jobs to fund their social lives, there is little chance they will contribute to your outgoings.


Studying for a degree at university is expensive. According to estimates made by the National Union of Students (NUS), the average cost of a university education in the UK is £22,000 per year – more if they study in London.

Whilst some parents may be in a position to help their children meet their university bills, most students take out loans from the Student Loans Company to cover fees and living costs. The loans are available to both undergraduates and, since December 2014, post-graduates. Information about how to apply for a student loan can be found on this Government site. This site also gives details of maintenance and special support grants for members of low-income families.

There are two types of student loan available:
  • Mortgage-style loan: People who began studying before September 1998 will have this type of loan. It is paid off in regular monthly instalments.
  • Income-contingent loan: People who began studying after September 1998 will have this type of loan, which is paid back via the tax system. Money is deducted from your salary or, if you’re self-employed, your tax return (which is why it is often referred to as a type of “graduate tax”).

With an income-contingent loan, when and how much you start paying back depends on which part of the UK you live in. Whether to make extra payments for graduates who are likely to be middle or low earners is a harder decision. This is because lower earners may still have a large amount of student debt outstanding by the time the loan is written off after 30 years.


No matter where you studied in the UK, the way you’ll repay your student loans will be the same. However, there are differences in the rules of loan repayment and interest; this is because England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have separate policies that govern student finance.

The terms of loan repayment for courses of study started before 01 September 2012, and those started after 01 September 2012, are different.

The Student Loans Company refer to these different terms as repayment “Plan 1” and repayment “‘Plan 2”.


All student loans accrue interest from the day they are paid. The amount of interest on a student loan will vary according to the repayment plan type. If the repayment plan type is known, the current and historical interest rates are outlined on their dedicated interest rate page.


To find out which repayment plan type is applicable, there is a section on the website which helps the individual to work out which repayment Plan type they have. For more information, see the Student Loans Company.

If you have any questions, please contact our friendly team on 03300 244612.

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