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I'm seriously considering now what I've been not-so-seriously… - James Mastros — LiveJournal

Feb. 28th, 2008

10:59 am

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I'm seriously considering now what I've been not-so-seriously considering for some time now, starting a course of study at The Open University. It seems so expensive, though. The first course I'd take is http://www3.open.ac.uk/courses/bin/p12.dll?C01MST121 -- 340 GBP for a 4-month course. I realize this isn't much money compared to an American education, or what many people spend on, well, many things. I don't like spending money on myself, because I don't actually work. My current monthly budget is 96.14GBP/mo, this course would be 85GBP/mo. On the other hand, it'd mean a 25% discount on our council tax bill, which works out to 229 GBP...
Or would it? It seems to be for "full-time" students. What's full-time? Do I have to not claim it for the few months there seem to be between courses? Does it pro-rate over a full year, does it only count if I spend more then X amount of the year as a student and then it's on full? How much will the council kick my ass if I forget to tell them that I'm no longer taking courses?
(If I assume that course covers 1/2 year in both council tax time and working on degree time, then it works out to actually saving money -- is this really an accurate model?)
rozallin, I'm hoping you can help me with this?

Comments:

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From:rozallin
Date:February 28th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)

You called?

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MST121 is a nine-month course. The next one runs from September until June, so that makes it about £37.78 per month from your budget (I think I see what happened there - the January date is when the next course starts, not when the September course ends). If your household income is less than £30,000p.a. you could apply for a partial award for your fees. It would be best to phone up, explain your circumstances and see what they suggest.

You wouldn't be entitled to a discount on your council tax though. For Council Tax purposes, 'full-time' means that you must be studying a course that lasts for at least one academic year, and requires you to attend at least 24 weeks a year and study/receive tuition for at least 21 hours per week. A 30-point OU course is considered to be 8 hours of study a week.

The advice seems to vary from council to council, with some saying that correspondence courses are excluded but others saying that the Open University counts. I'm not a lawyer but I reckon that if you were working towards a degree, doing 90-120 points per year and attending the tutorials and any residential courses, it would be reasonable and worth it to appeal against the council's decision if they turned you down, if nothing else to set a legal precedent (but given that I'm planning to go back to work full-time soon I'm not volunteering to do this!)

You'd also be able to apply for an NUS card, which will give you discounts at a lot of shops, cinemas, restaurants etc.
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[User Picture]
From:theorb
Date:February 28th, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC)

Re: You called?

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Right. Actually, what happened here was far more simple. I read the correct spot on the grid -- "jun" -- but processed it as if it said "jan". Perhaps I should start with a course in how to read, sigh.
At 38GBP/mo, I'm a lot less concerned with the council tax benifit. I am, however, rather concerned that it will take me approximately the rest of my natural life to get a degree at that rate. (Naturally, it is by no means obvious from the information on the OU site how long it would take, just a feeling I get.)
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[User Picture]
From:thaigrrrrl
Date:February 29th, 2008 12:25 am (UTC)
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dude If I only had to pay 1k for classes I would. Multiply that by 80 to get what I"m paying!
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[User Picture]
From:theorb
Date:February 29th, 2008 07:46 am (UTC)
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Yeah. You've got savings, and you've got what is presumably a job with great pay. I've got a budget of 96.14GBP/mo to dispose of. We could swing *this one course* by paying for it with Jess's budget, probably. That's not sustainable, and my education isn't worth going into debt for.
Anyway, see Rozallin's lovely comment -- that course fee sounds much more reasonable when considered as a nine-month course. Of course, that doesn't help my impression of the time taken to complete the qualification.
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:March 8th, 2008 01:42 am (UTC)

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