Cheaper ways to get a degree

Want a degree but don't want to get yourself into a massive pile of debt? University fees are eye-watering, and you can save money by not doing it the usual way. But how? Here are some cheaper ways of getting a degree.

girl graduating

"I can smell the money I've saved."

Live with your parents

Uni fees aren’t cheap, and one of the quickest ways to cut costs is to not pay for living independently on top of everything else. Almost a quarter of students are choosing to delay fleeing the nest, staying at Casa Parents and commuting to a local uni until they’ve got their degree under their armpit.

The pros:

  • Degrees are hard, and the looking-after will certainly make life easier. That, and the cooked meals and laundry service…

The cons:

  • Absolutely EVERYBODY will ask you, “Don’t you think you’re missing out on, you know, the whole, university experience?”
  • Learning to live by yourself is a very important thing to do
  • You won’t be able to bring people back to yours for parties/casual sex

What to do now:

Read our article on how to live with your parents for some survival tips

Work part-time, study part-time

It may take a bit longer, but choosing to do your degree part-time means you can work around the edges and earn all of the money. Lots of top universities offer part-time options, with evening lectures and seminars so you don’t have to miss work.

The pros:

  • You’ll be getting real work experience alongside an academic qualification
  • You can earn money as you go, meaning less or no debt
  • Your company may even offer to pay some of your degree costs, if they’re nice like that

The cons:

  • It will take longer to finish your degree, at least four years
  • You’ll probably have to use a lot of your allocated annual leave to revise or go to exams
  • The friends on your course are likely to be older than you, rather than other 18-year-olds

What to do now:

  • Get advice on part-time jobs and what rights you’re entitled to here
  • Read Amy’s real life story about how she got her degree part-time here

Get an online degree

In these amazing days of t’internet, you can bag a degree without even leaving your room. Like, ever. Though we do suggest you go out occasionally for food and stuff, and just so you don’t go all Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Lots of places now offer online degrees, where you’re sent virtual learning guides and can live-chat with your personal tutor online.

The pros:

  • You don’t have to spend money on student digs
  • You can do it around a full-time job
  • Great if you’re shy and don’t like the idea of sitting in a packed lecture hall

The cons:

  • It’s hard to work out which courses are taken seriously, both academically and by future employers
  • Potential employers may worry you’re not socially skilled if you chose to study online
  • Some people learn easier if there’s actual real-life human teachers talking to their face, you may be one of them, and may find it hard to be motivated.

What to do now:

Read our article about online degrees to learn more about the pros and cons.

Do a degree abroad

Vote with your feet against horrific uni fees and flee the country. Some European countries like Austria and Germany offer free degrees (although a small admin fee may apply, and it may be dependent on you being an EU or EEA citizen) and other countries like France and the Netherlands still offer much cheaper tuition fees than England. Plus, foreign unis like having British students as it creates a more diverse campus. Ain’t that nice?

The pros:

  • You get to bag a degree in an exotic country and have loads of different life experiences
  • Degrees in European countries are usually very high quality
  • You’re likely to pick up some great language skills to boot

The cons:

  • The biggy: You can’t get a UK student loan for an international degree, so you’ll have to pay for food/accommodation/books all upfront
  • If you get homesick, it’s a long way to come home
  • It takes longer to complete international degrees, they tend to be four years rather than three.
  • You might not be studying in English, so unless you’re bilingual you’ll be coping with learning your subject AND another language at the same time.

What to do now:

Scottish? Stay in Scotland

Residents of Scotland still get FREE degrees, you lucky rotters! So, if you’re Scottish, and you want to save money on your degree, stay exactly where you are.

The pros:

  • FREE degree!
  • You get to stay near-ish home

The cons:

  • If you really want to study elsewhere in the UK, it will cost you about £27,000 in fees – sometimes making you feel forced to stay put
  • Being limited to just Scottish universities could limit the variety of courses to pick

What to do now:

Thank your lucky stars you’re Scottish, and pray for the rest of us.

If you need further support on this, give us a call on 0808 808 4994. We’re unable to give specific money advice but can guide you to the best places for expert support.

Next Steps

  • Looking for a mentor to help boost your knowledge and skills? Find a youth zone close to you.
  • Reveal your skills with Define Me and find the right words to tell employers.
  • Download Motimator - an app that helps you get the career you want - by giving you a gentle kick up the ass each day when motivation is running low.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015