Accelerated degrees: pros, cons and student finances

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An accelerated degree can give you the same qualification, in less time and for less money. But what are the drawbacks? And can you get funding?

Students in classroom with stopwatch icon

Credits: Gorodenkoff (Background), Fanisa Azahara (Stopwatch) – Shutterstock

Accelerated degrees offer a cheaper route to graduation, covering the same course content in a fraction of the time. And, since you’ll only be at university for two years, you should have a small student loan to pay off at the end.

But accelerated degrees aren’t for everyone. Congested deadlines mean you have to give up opportunities to socialize and work, and you also have to consider the funding on offer. Although it should be cheaper, you may find that the additional maintenance debt you owe is not enough to cover your living expenses.

Read on to find out more about accelerated degrees, with all the pros and cons, and whether you’ll be able to get student finance.

What is an accelerated degree?

An accelerated degree is an undergraduate course that lasts two years instead of the standard three. As such, they are sometimes referred to as ‘fast-track degrees’.

The course content in an accelerated degree is the equivalent of three years, and the qualification you get at the end is the same. The only difference is that you dedicate a lot of your vacation time – especially during the summer – to completing the course in a short period of time.

Because they are relatively new concepts, and don’t necessarily appeal to everyone, not all universities offer accelerated degrees.

In fact, almost all of the UK offers fast-track degrees English University. Elsewhere in the UK, they are either only offered at postgraduate level, or are only available for a limited range of vocational courses (such as law or social work).

That said, if you’re happy to go to a university in England, you’ll get accelerated degrees in a variety of subjects offered by unis across the country.

Should you do an accelerated degree?

Despite their appeal, fast-track degrees aren’t for everyone. To help you decide, we’ve put together a quick list of their pros and cons.

Why an accelerated degree might be a good option

Here are some of the benefits of an accelerated degree:

    • Because you’re only studying for two years rather than three, you’ll graduate with a shorter one To pay off student loans.
  • Assuming you start your course straight after school or sixth form, you’ll enter the world of work before your peers. This means you can start making money quickly, and potentially get a head start on the career ladder.
  • If you are not in a rush to start the course, you can take a year after school and still graduate at the same time as your friends.

Why an accelerated degree might be a bad option

Meanwhile, here are some disadvantages of an accelerated degree:

  • While accelerated degrees do the same amount of work in a shorter amount of time, you’ll likely find that you have less free time and miss out on some of the social aspects of university.
  • You’ll also have less time to rest, whether it’s during the week or when you’re on vacation.
  • Although you can find time for a part-time job, you usually won’t be able to extend your hours during your summer vacation.
  • If you are on an accelerated course, you can get Additional Maintenance Fund To cover additional weeks of study in a year. However, depending on where you are from in the UK and what your household income is, this extra funding may be at a lower rate than the rest of your loan.
  • Not all parts of the UK offer Tuition fee loan This will cover the full cost of an accelerated degree.
Before we run the funds, remember that you will be applying for student finance The part of the UK you normally live inWhere is your university?

Tuition fee loan for accelerated degree

University surrounded by bags of money

Tuition fees for accelerated degrees are generally fixed 11,100 pounds a year, and most universities will charge this amount. Although this is higher than the regular fee cap (£9,250 per year), it is significantly cheaper overall as you only study for two years rather than three.

England And Northern Ireland Both will offer a special tuition fee loan that will Cover the full cost.

However, if you live Scotland or Wells, there is no additional tuition funding for fast-track degrees. Instead, the maximum tuition fee loan is £9,250 a year, and you have to pay the rest using personal funds or bursaries, scholarships and grants.

It’s also worth noting that the £11,100 tuition fee cap only applies to publicly-funded universities. Private unis can charge as much as they wantAnd the maximum tuition fee loan available to students at these institutions is just £7,400 a year.

Although most unis are publicly funded, one of the largest providers of accelerated degrees – the University of Buckingham – is private. Here, the annual tuition fee can be double (or more) than the maximum loan and you have to pay the rest yourself.

Maintenance loans for accelerated degrees

Depending on where you usually live in the UK, you may be able to get extra funding for the extra weeks of study involved in a year of an accelerated degree.

inside England And Wells, the definition of a ‘long’ course is one that involves you studying more than 30 weeks and three days in an academic year. inside Northern IrelandThe cutoff is slightly earlier, at just 30 weeks.

Again, between ScotlandThere is no additional funding for students on accelerated degree courses.

For each week above the threshold, you may be entitled to some extra cash. However, when the amount is calculated on a weekly basis, the funds will come in lump sum as part of your April/May month. Maintenance loan disbursement.

And remember, regardless of which part of the UK you get student finance from, your standard maintenance loan entitlement will not be affected.

Long Course Loans in England

your accommodation Maximum amount for each additional week
Living with your parents £69
away from home (outside london) £104
away from home (in london) £134
Living and studying abroad £144

Long course loans in England are means-tested. So, like a maintenance loan, the amount you get will vary depending on your household income.

If your household income is £39,796 or less, you should get the maximum weekly amount on offer for a student with living arrangements. If your household income is above this figure, you will receive a smaller amount based on the information you submit to Student Finance England.

However, if you already have a minimum maintenance loan, you Will not be eligible for any additional funding. This includes students with the following household incomes:

  • £58,253 or more If you stay at home while studying
  • £62,311 or more If you live in and out of London while studying
  • £70,022 or more If you live away from London while studying.

This also includes any students who fail to submit household income information as part of their financial application.

Also note that if your course involves studying More than 45 weeks academic year, you may qualify for funding that is equivalent to 52 weeks worth.

Extended year maintenance loans in Northern Ireland

your accommodation Maximum amount for each additional week
Living with your parents £55
away from home (outside london) £84
away from home (in london) £108
Living and studying abroad £117

If you get your funding from Student Finance Northern Ireland, you can get extra cash to cover the extra weeks of study involved in an accelerated degree.

Importantly, these funds always come in one form means-tested loans. Unlike the general maintenance fund in Northern Ireland, there is no grant on offer for extra weeks.

And, because it’s means-tested, you won’t get the maximum amount unless your household income is below £39,796 a year.

What’s more, if you get a “reduced loan” you won’t be eligible for additional weeks of funding. In this context, it applies:

  • Anyone who receives only the non-household-income-assessed portion of the maintenance loan
  • Anyone who gets a low rate loan, usually because they receive some form of NHS Bursary or are on a sandwich course.

Finally, if your course runs for 45 weeks or more in a 12-month period, you will receive additional funding as if you had been studying for 52 weeks.

Maintenance Debt in Scotland

As we explained earlier, Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS, Scotland’s student finance body) does not provide any additional funding for students on accelerated courses.

This means that you will only be able to apply for a standard maintenance loan (or ‘student loan’, as it is known in Scotland) to cover your living costs. For most students, this amounts to the following:

household income loan Bursary total*
£20,999 or less £6,100 £2,000 £8,100
From £21,000 to £23,999 £6,100 £1,125 £7,225
From £24,000 to £33,999 £6,100 £500 £6,600
£34,000+ £5,100 £0 £5,100

* This amount assumes you are a dependent (or ‘young’) student. If you’re 25 or over, see our guide to student finance for mature students.

This funding is unlikely to be enough to support you throughout your course, especially if you plan to study in London. As such, we’d advise you to look at alternative sources of funding to supplement your loan – particularly student grants

Extended year maintenance loans in Wales

your accommodation Maximum amount for each additional week
Living with your parents £91
Away from home (outside London, including overseas) £138
away from home (in london) £176

Student Finance Wales offers the UK’s most generous funding for students on accelerated courses.

However, unlike Wales’ regular maintenance support for students, no grants are available within this additional funding. Instead, the extra weekly support comes in the form of a loan.

that said Funding is not means-testedSo most students will get the full amount.

The only exception applies to students receiving reduced rate loans. You can get a lower rate loan if you get certain types of NHS bursary, or if you’re on a full-time sandwich course.

Whatever the reason, if you get a low-maintenance loan, you won’t be eligible for extra weekly funding for fast-track degree students.

Pay off your accelerated degree student loans

Piggy bank with graduate cap

Students who earn an accelerated degree pay off their student loans just like everyone else.

Dedicated to us The Student Loan Repayment Guide explains everything in more detail, but we’ll summarize the headlines for you here.

The main thing to note is that Student loans are not like other types of loans.

For one, you won’t part with a penny until you start earning more than the payout threshold. This amount varies depending on which part of the UK gives you your loan, but the principle is always the same.

What’s more, if your salary suddenly drops below the threshold, your repayments will stop until you’re above it again – if ever.

If you earn more than the threshold, you only pay 9% of your earnings above that. This means the amount you pay is tied to your earnings, so it tends to be quite manageable. And, since student loan payments don’t affect your credit score, they shouldn’t have a significant impact on your ability to buy a home.

Eventually, regardless of how much or how little you paid off, your remaining student loan balance will be written off after 30 or more years.

So, despite the many flaws in the UK student loan system, repayments aren’t bad at all.

Our list of bursaries and scholarship sources will help if you need to find any additional funding.

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