Student finance: in real life

It’s here – part 4 of our ‘Student finance: in real life’ series! In this episode, we talk to Ellie who graduated from The University of Manchester in 2015 with a BSc in Speech and Language Therapy. She explains how she thinks of her student loan as an “investment” as she wouldn’t have been able to do her job without it, and tells us how the application process “wasn’t as scary” as she initially thought it would be.

How did you feel about money, specifically student finance, before you got to university? 

I had minimal knowledge of student finance or how the system worked before university. I was aware that there was an earning threshold which meant that I wouldn’t have to pay money back if I didn’t earn enough, but I also weighed up the fact that I was likely to be able to earn more overall with a graduate job compared to not going to university for the type of work I was interested in. Other than my part time job in college I had never had to think about managing my own money. My worry was somehow getting the student finance process wrong.

Has your opinion on student finance changed since then?

I view my student loan as an investment – I wouldn’t be able to do the job I do without my degree. It was as if it was my wage whilst I was training to do my job. By finding clear explanations and reading the information carefully, the application process wasn’t as scary as I imagined it would be.

Now you’re a graduate, I wondered how student debt feels for you? Is it a burden, or do you not really notice it?

The student loan repayments show up on my wage slips but other than that it’s not something that has much impact and does not affect me day to day in any way. As I have advanced in my job, the repayments have gone up automatically but I also know that if I took a job that paid less, the repayments would go back down. Again, I was worried I’d somehow accidentally miss payments or have to pay back a large chunk in one go but that wasn’t the case.

Do you think university was a good investment?

I was constrained in that to qualify to be a speech and language therapist, I needed to do a specific degree and there was no other route at the time. I don’t think about my student loan now, and view it as one of the necessary steps to get me in my chosen career.