Since September 2012, when tuition fees for UK students in England were raised to a maximum of £9000 per year, taking on a large debt to pay for tertiary education has become the norm. This change has worried many students but taking out student loans to cover your tuition and living expenses is not a reason to avoid university.
It’s important to know three facts:
|Your income per year||Monthly repayments|
|£21,000 and under||No repayments|
When you go to university, you will have tuition fees to pay to your institution and living expenses, which include accommodation, food, clothes, books, gadgets, travelling and all expenses related to your social life.
Tuition fee loans are available to cover the whole of your tuition costs. You apply to student finance in the months before you expect to start your course, usually online. It is important to apply in good time and certainly before the end of May. Any delay can mean a delay in your tuition fees being paid.
Student Finance pays your tuition fees direct to your university. This loan never goes into your bank account and you have to pay the loan back.
|Full-time student||Tuition fee loan|
|Full-time||Up to £9,000|
|Full-time at a private university or college||Up to £6,000|
|Part-time student||Tuition fee loan|
|Part-time||Up to £6,750|
|Part-time at private university or college||Up to £4,500|
If you are resident in the UK, you are eligible to apply for a maintenance loan. The size of the loan depends partly on your household income and partly on where you choose to study:
All eligible students can receive 65% of the maximum maintenance loan available, no matter what their household income. Students from households with lower incomes may be eligible for up to 100%. To obtain the maintenance loan that you are entitled to, make sure your parent/s provide their information and documentary evidence on time.
You will receive your maintenance loan in three instalments, one in each term. This can help you budget but many students find that most of their maintenance loan goes on their accommodation.
Even the maximum amount is not a huge amount of money for all that it has to cover. It is possible to top-up your money for living expenses by parental contributions or by getting a part-time job during your time at university, or during the holidays. In cases of real hardship – if you have no money from other sources and you run out way before the end of term – go to your university to ask for advice and help.
If you apply late, your money may not come through in time. You need to go to your university and explain the situation and follow their advice. Universities are used to this happening and will be sympatheticif you tell them.
Chase up student finance to find out the cause of the problem. They should be able to give you an idea of when the money will be available. That may mean having an overdraft with your bank until your money comes through and your university accepting your accommodation payments late.
Students from families with a lower income are also eligible for maintenance grants and bursaries. These differ from student loans in thatthey do not have to be paid back.
Student finance provides a maintenance grant of £3,250 per year for students whose household income is £25,000 or less. If you household income is between £25,001.00 and £42,600.00, you will get a partial grant.
These are awarded as a replacement to the maintenance grant for students in special circumstances, such as being a single parent or living with a disability. The maximum amount is again £3,250.00 per year and also depends on your household income.
These are available for students with children, responsibility for caring for dependants and disabled students:
Bursaries are non-repayable grants provided by individual universities. Many have a budget to help students who are from very low income families, who are single parents or who have dependent children, or who are disabled. There is no central information source of what is available – you need to check the website of the universities you are thinking of applying to, or phone their helpdesk.
The funding body you apply to depends on where you live, not where you are intending to study:
Find out more in our Definitive guide to Student Finance