Students were dealt some bad news by chancellor George Osborne in his summer Budget with the announcement that maintenance grants are to be replaced by loans of up to £8,200 a year for English students studying outside London from September 2016. The loans will only be paid back when earnings exceed £21,000 a year and the government will consult on freezing this threshold for the next five years. The current interest rate charged is 9%. In the current academic year, the maximum maintenance grant – which does not have to be repaid – is £3,387 and is reserved for students from households earning £25,000 a year or less. Megan Dunn, president of the National Union of Students (NUS), said: "Cutting maintenance grants would be detrimental to our poorest students who rely on it." Nigel Benton, executive director of the National Skills Academy for Financial Services, added: "We would urge the government to ensure that a safety net remains in place to protect the poorest students from being disadvantaged in their life choices purely on the basis of family income. All young people should have the chance to reach their potential and make a full contribution to society. He also said: "There are of course other options to a degree programme and apprenticeship is a great choice at 16 or 18 which allows people to earn while they learn."