Saw the thread and thought I'd given you a view point from a mature student who's:
a) returned to full time education at 33yrs
b) single mum
c) Completed two degrees gaining 2:1 & 2:2 in same year.... Complete madness (dont do it lol)
d) graduated in 2012 and now starting an MSC in Sept 2013
With regard to finances:
Student loans - big help added to the fact I also received additonal funding as single parent and additional funding from adult learning fund
Childcare - recieved help with this
Tax Credits - Looking to this as it could be an option if youre working as well
Housing / Council Tax benefit - you can gain help for this as well (depending upon your living arrangements)
I travelled an hour & half each way 3 times per week for first two years then my final year I was in four times a week. Everything was planned in detail... I would arrive at uni early where possible and use my quiet periods to study. Holidays - I still went in and used that time to work. To ensure I spent time with my son I often didnt start uni work until 9pm at night and worked through until 2am then up at 7am, weekends were difficult as I was working.
Time management and desire to succeed was key. There were some tough times when I questioned what I was doing and was I going down the right path, thankfully I had a great group of friends at uni and we all supported each other... Support from your peers helps massively
I dont think about the student loans figure.. without returning to uni I cant pursue my dream to become a physio (hence why I'm now going on to do a 2 year MSC which is 5 days a week intensive course). The plus side of returning to education is you get longer holidays in the summer - the contact you make can help you in the future both in long terms and short terms. The greatest sense of achievement was getting awarded my degree and knowing that people thought I'd never do it.... Never mind the fact that I actually done it twice in the same year. WARNING dont try doing two the stress levels were unbelieveable in the final 6 weeks (added to the fact I was working almost full time by then too) but hey I love a challenge lol.
Anyone reading this and thinking should I .. Could I.. then the answer is Yes, the support network at uni's and from other students is fantastic.
Now on to my next challenge of MSC at Kings College London.. Have to keep pinching myself as that is a dream... Maybe I'll do a phd too lol who knows only time will tell...