Category: Students

Is a Vocational Degree the Best Way to get Value for Money from a Student Loan?

Many students these days are doing vocational degrees because they feel that it will be the best way to get value for money. With students now having to pay for their education, mainly through a student loan, they think harder about the course that they are studying and how useful it will be to them in later life. When courses were free students perhaps studied what they enjoyed or were interested in without thinking about where their future lay. However, now they are paying themselves, they are thinking more about getting value for money from their course. They want to choose one which they think will give them the best skills that they need for getting a job and so many are now more inclined to pick a vocational degree rather than other subjects.

It is worth remembering though that a student loan is not really a loan in the normal sense. Firstly you only have to start paying it back once you are earning above a certain amount of money. This means that if your degree does not lead to a well-paying job, this needn’t be a big worry with regards to the loan repayments, as you will not have to make them. With the loan being written off after thirty years, you may find that you will only have to pay back a small percentage of it anyway. It also has no effect on your credit score and so will not affect your future borrowing unless they take your disposable or net income into account, as the repayments are taken out of your tax code. This is only likely to happen with a mortgage anyway.
It is worth thinking about whether you will pass the course or not. You will certainly not get good value for money if you do not pass. If you choose to do a vocational course that may not be a subject that you are excited about or so good at, there is more of a risk that you will not pass. There could also be the risk of your dropping out. This could be more problematic as you will be expected to start making your loan repayments as soon as you drop out and this could be tricky if you do not manage to get a job very quickly. It may feel bad having to make loan repayments too when you have no qualification to show for it. If you do not pass the course you will certainly not be getting value for money.

It is worth considering what career you actually want and which degree will be best for that and then thinking about whether it will be flexible should you change your mind. You may know exactly what you want to do and have been set on it for a long time and so think that there is no way that you will change your mind, then you should be fine. However, a lot of students have a hard time deciding what they want to do and may change their mind after they have qualified or even before they have qualified. This can make things difficult unless it is possible to change a course part the way through. Therefore a more general qualification could be a better option in this situation.

It is worth noting that some graduate jobs do not require a specific degree anyway and so as long as the course is completed and passed, whether it is a vocational qualification or not will make no difference. However, it can be worth looking into what careers are available as a result of getting certain degrees so that you have a better idea of how useful they will be at the end.

Deciding on a career and a degree course can be very difficult and with the added factor of having to pay for the course as well. If you really cannot decide then it could be a good idea to do some work experience first. Try doing something in the field that you want to go in to and then you will get a better idea of whether it is the right career for you. If you make a good impression you may even be able to work part-time while studying to cover some of the costs or you may be able to get the company to cover some of the coast, particularly if they are large company.