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student at 35, with a wife & child...can i do it?

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm considering going to Uni at the grand old age of 35, i have a wife and a 2 month old daughter.

    I currently work full time but want to gain a degree in computer systems and networks to enhance my knowledge and move up the IT ladder.

    My question is 'what type of financial help could i get?'

    I would have to give up my job so will need to apply for funding to cover course fees but would being married and having a child grant me more help financially?

    My wife is on maternity leave until end of Jan 2017 and will return to full time employment in feb.

    I've not been a student before so don't really know what finance i can apply for??!

    Any other parents out there that have gone back into education?

    Any info would be helpful



    I'm a parent, have a first degree, and have recently returned to full-time undergraduate education. I have two children and I work and my husband does too. So it is doable.*

    Things that I have going for me: I absolutely know what I'm doing. There's not an academic assignment on this course that phases me because I've already done the same sort of thing at postgraduate level and I teach essay writing for a living. If I do badly, it's only because I don't give myself enough time. I'm self-employed, so my work is flexible. We have an au pair. My husband is on board with it and supports me. I get a bursary and this year I will also be getting a maintenance loan. It will help. We also get help with childcare through either tax credits or the NHS bursary system.

    I was prepared going in. It wasn't a massive shock to the system. But things inevitably do slide. My diet and exercise regime have taken a deep dive from which they're only now returning. I don't get as much free time as I would like and I don't get to prioritise study the way I'd like to. I'd love nothing more than to be able to put in an 8 hour day and then clock off and just spend that time with my boys guilt free. I can't though. So I miss things. I also lose big chunks of time commuting, but that's going to be the job as well, so may as well get used to it.*

    But what else would I do? I'm doing something that I love and working towards becoming qualified in something that I feel a perfect fit for. And I'm damn good at it. So it's worth it. And I make sure that what time I can spend with my boys is quality time.*

    It does make unexpected expenses difficult to absorb. I was contemplating selling organs to pay my Toyota service bill this morning until I convinced them to find a way to cut a £1500 bill down to £690. I'll be feeling this one for months.

    We also don't have family nearby or family who'd be willing or able to support us even if we did. So we miss that. If you have that, you're lucky.*
    You would qualify for the full fees loan and a small maintenance loan. You would probably qualify for a bit of additional help as it's your first degree. You'll have to check with student finance. The government bends over backwards to support STEM subjects, so you're in a good position with your degree choice. Distance learning and flexible study options may be better for your circumstances as it would mean you could work as well. Maybe explore the OU. They're also cheaper than most other universities and have more flexible payment plans. If you're returning to study after a long break, you may be better off going with them as well as they specialise in students without a previous background in education. Another thing to remember with them is that you could start from September if you wanted to.*

    Just be prepared going in. Academically, financially and socially. It's entirely doable. But be prepared.*

    One more thing, if you already work in IT, you may even qualify to do a short one or two year Master's degree in IT that would speed things along for you. A lot of them are willing to consider relevant industry experience so it's worth looking into.*
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