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Student finance for English students

student loan tie and moneyFind out exactly how the student loan process helps finance your life as a student without being overwhelmed by large repayments when you start earning.

Tuition fees and how to pay them

For new full-time students, tuition fees can be up to £9,000 - but that's not the whole story. You don't have to pay a penny during your studies, because you can get a loan to cover the full cost. And you don't have to worry about keeping up repayments on that loan either - repayments are based on your earnings, not on how much you owe, and you won't pay back at all if you're earning less than £21,000 a year.

What is a student loan?

A student loan is money paid out to students to help them pay for living costs. The loans are managed by the Student Loans Company. These are not commercial loans so they are a very cheap way to borrow money.

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How much will I get?

You are entitled to receive a student loan to cover the cost of your course fees, as well as a maintenance loan to cover your living costs for the year.

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Full year maintenance rates (2013-14)

The exact amount of maintenance loan you are entitled to depends on your income, although everyone is entitled to 65% of the loan amount. Whether you can get any or all of the remaining 35% depends on your income and that of your household, where you live and study and the amount of maintenance grant you are receiving.

If you come from a high income household, you won't receive the full loan, and your parents are expected to make up the difference, though this is not compulsory.

For lower-income families, part of the loan can be replaced by the Maintenance Grant, which doesn't have to be repaid.

The figures below give the maximum, and the 65% rate. Loans are paid into your bank account in three instalments – one at the start of each term.

  • Students living at home: £4,375 maximum, £2,843 (65% rate).
  • Students living away from home outside London: £5,500 maximum, £3,575 (65% rate).
  • Students living away from home in London: £7,675 maximum, £4,988 (65% rate).

Try using the Student Calculator to find out how much maintenance loan you could receive.

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Fee loans (2013-14)

Piggy bank in dollarsYou are also entitled to a loan to cover your course fees – up to £9,000 per year in the UK. The actual rate will depend on the cost of your course, although most universities ask for the full fee for all courses.

In Scotland, Scottish undergraduates do not have to pay any fees for a full-time undergraduate degree course. In Wales, Welsh students will have some of their fees covered by the government and will only have to borrow up to £3,465.

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How do I apply for a student loan?

The easiest way to apply for your student loan is online. Register with your country's Student Finance provider and fill in an application form. You will need to provide your National Insurance number, and supply evidence of household income for a 'means-tested' loan. They will then assess your application and decide how much you can borrow.

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Getting your student loan

You've filled in the forms and double-checked your bank details, but how do you ensure the money actually comes in on time?

Checking in

You won’t receive your loan until your university or college tells the Student Loan Company that you’ve registered. How you register depends on the university – it might be done online or at an induction session, for example.

The university might need to see your payment schedule. You should be sent a copy of this at the start of each year.

If you’re worried that you haven’t been properly registered, get in touch with your university’s Student Services to make sure.

Stay up to date

Make sure you inform Student Finance England if anything changes. If you switch course or university, they’ll need to be told. If you get a new student bank account, update your details so the money goes to the right place!

Get the forms you need to update your details here.

Keep an eye out!

If something does go wrong, you want to know about it before you get an angry letter from your bank saying that you’re overdrawn. Check your bank balance regularly to make sure the money’s come in. Internet banking could help you with this.

If you haven’t received your loan, check with your university to make sure they’ve authorised it. If they have, you need to get in touch with the Student Loans Company to find out where your money is:

Remember that tuition fee loans are paid straight to the university, so they will not appear in your bank account.

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When do I have to pay the money back?

pounds coins stackRepayments of loans start in the April after you leave higher education, and only once you start earning more than £21,000 (or £15,795 if you started before 2012). Repayments are reasonable and depend on the amount you earn, not the amount you borrowed. For instance, if your income was £22,000 you would repay £90 per month.

The Government will write off student loan balances which are left unpaid 30 years after you finished your course.

See Paying back your student loan: Myths unravelled for more information.

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Maintenance grants and special support grants

Maintenance grants

Some students may get a maintenance grant as well as a maintenance loan. Unlike the loan, you don’t have to pay this back. However, if you do get a maintenance grant, the amount of your maintenance loan might be reduced.

Maintenance grants are means-tested, so the amount you get depends on your household income. Anyone with a household income of less than £25,000 will get the maximum grant of £3,354 for the 2013-14 academic year. Students from households with an income between £25,000 and £42,611 will get less than this.

Special support grants

If you receive housing benefit or income support or are a loan parent or have certain disabilities, you might qualify for a special support grant instead of the maintenance grant. It's worked out in the same way, but unlike the maintenance grant it doesn't affect the size of your maintenance loan.

You should apply for all full-time grants through the Student Finance website.

Other money

If you need more help with your living costs or course fees, it’s worth looking to see if you are eligible for any other bursaries or scholarships or extra part-time study support.

Many universities also offer the Access to Learning Fund, a cash grant, which is available if you run into financial difficulty during your time at university. This will be assessed by university staff when you apply, so have a look and see whether your university offers similar help.

In addition, there are a number of sources of funding for student parents.

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