Blog of a Mature Graphic Design Student

Children, Childcare Grant and Studying

I called Student Finance today as I wanted to know if I could claim the Parents’ Learning Allowance and I was advised I could. At the same time I enquired about the Childcare Grant. I’d sent the forms off for this ages ago but I hadn’t heard anything. Not too worried I just assumed that they would contact me eventually, after all according to the .gov online calculator I could claim up to £159.59 towards childcare. The adviser would call me back about the Childcare Grant because she needed to speak to another department.

A few minutes later I received a call. Not good news – not only cannot I not get the Parents’ Learning Allowance, which is £ 1,617 per year, I cannot claim the Childcare Grant either. It is August, it would have been good to know I could not claim help with childcare sooner. I do wonder when they were planning on telling me that I cannot claim childcare costs.

Mr and Mrs Moneybags

And why can I not claim? Because my husband’s earning of around £28,000 a year disqualify us. I appreciate I will still get my normal student loan of around £8000 for living costs but I really need to buy a new computer. Also there will be travel costs, books, printing (it is a Graphic Design course after all) and of course now childcare costs too.

I’m sure we will manage (not much choice really) but what I don’t understand is the .gov student finance calculator asks you to enter in your household income, if your household income disqualifies you for certain grants/allowances then why show them?It just leads a student to to believe they will have more money to survive on. I’d imagine the get out clause is the “up to” (see below). The website doesn’t say you are entitled but surely if your entitlement is zero then it should say that? It is misleading and frustrating. It reads to me that, for example, say I need to fund 2 hours or 4 or whatever then I can get help as long as the childcare does not cost more £159.59 a week. Of course I now know I was wrong about that.

I was hoping that I might be able to cover extra hours of childcare beyond the minimum required for the course. In my experience of studying, you need to put more in than the timetabled hours. Also one of the lecturers who teaches the first and second year said I could drop into his software classes. I will be entering into the third year and my software knowledge is lacking. I thought “oh that will be good get in some more practise, learn more about the latest software”. Will I have to skip? Not sure right now, I will wait to see the timetable for the course before deciding if I can afford to.

15 Hours Free Childcare

As my youngest is turning 3 soon he is entitled to 15 hours free childcare, so I will just have to make the best out of those 15 hours plus what I can afford on top. It does make me wonder what if he wasn’t turning 3? This is no entitlement to free childcare at all based on our circumstances. Therefore I simply wouldn’t have been able to do the course. There is no way we could afford to fund childcare whilst I attended a full-time degree course.

The system should be changed so that you can make plans and make a budget well in advance. Preferably before you even apply, because if you can’t afford to study then there is no point applying in the first place.

Calculation Shown on .gov Website

Student finance
You could get per year:
– £6,500 Tuition Fee Loan to pay for your course
– £8,067 Maintenance Loan to pay living costs

Extra student funding
You could get:
– up to £159.59 a week (1 child) or up to £273.60 a week (2 or more children) Childcare Grant
– up to £1,617 per year Parents’ Learning Allowance

Children on Train

My Kiddywinkles, gave up trying to find a photo of them both looking at the camera at the same time

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