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Student Finance: the Essential Guide

Student Finance: the Essential GuideGet the essential facts about student finance: how much money you could get, what you have to do to get it, and if and when you’ll have to pay it back.

What can I get?

For most full-time students, there are three basic loans and grants.

  • Tuition fee loan: this covers the full cost of your tuition fees, so whatever your university charges you won’t have to pay up front.
  • Maintenance loan: maintenance grants have now been replaced with bigger maintenance loans. However, if you started university in 2015 or earlier, you'll continue to get the grant. The grant gives you more money to live off while at university. The exact amount you get depends on where you live and how much you and your parents earn.
  • Maintenance grant: more money to live off, but this never has to be paid back. Whether you qualify, and how much you can get, depends on how much you and your parents earn. This is no longer available to new students, but the maintenance loan is bigger to compensate, and students who started their course before 2016 still receive it.

There are also extra grants available if you’re disabled or a parent, or if you’re just struggling to get by at university.

Find out more:

How do I get it?

Almost all student finance is taken care of with a single application you can complete online.

Once you’ve filled in the form, you might have to send in evidence of your identity (eg. a passport) and your household income (eg. photocopied payslips). However, usually you can provide this evidence online. You’ll be sent a declaration you need to sign and send back.

When you arrive at university, make sure you register as this is the trigger for your money being paid. The university should make this happen without you asking, but if you’re not sure it’s been done properly it doesn’t hurt to check.

What about paying it back?

Your tuition fee loan and maintenance loan have to be paid back once you graduate and are earning money. If you started before 2012, you’ll pay back once you earn more than £15,795 a year. If you started in 2012 or later, you’ll pay back once you earn more than £21,000 a year.

How much you pay each month depends on how much you earn, not how much you owe. You’ll pay 9% of what you earn above the threshold. Usually, this will come out of your pay before it goes into your account.

Find out more:

Part-time students

Student finance is a little different for part-time students. If you started before 2012, you can get smaller grants towards your fees and living costs. You’ll need to fill in a paper application and you won’t have to pay it back. How much you get will depend on your course intensity and your income.

If you started in 2012 or later, you get the same Tuition Fee loan as full-time students, but not any other financial support.

Find out more about part-time student finance.