Show me the money – a guide to student finance

The 21st May deadline for applying for student finance is fast-approaching. Unlike school and college, higher education is not free. Universities charge fees that cover key elements of your course and academic life. You can apply for a student loan that will cover these costs as soon as you start your course.

The idea of taking out a loan can be scary but remember that a student loan is different to a loan you would get from a bank. Let’s take a look at these loans in more detail.

Tuition fee loans
This loan will cover the cost of tuition fees when you start your course. It’s paid directly to your university so once your application has been accepted, that’s it, you don’t have to worry about it. You’ll usually get a Tuition Fee Loan for the duration of your course.

Maintenance loans
Maintenance loans can be used to cover some of your living costs at university, such as accommodation, transport, food and books. These loans are means-tested, meaning that they will consider the income of your parent or guardian. So students from lower-income backgrounds are entitled to a larger loan. Where you study will also make a difference. For example, if your university is in London, you will get a bigger loan as the cost of living in London is higher than in other parts of the country.

Remember that you don’t have to pay your student loan off straightway. Repayments will not start until you are working and earning more than £26,500 a year. Find out more about repayments here: UCAS: Repaying your student loan

Applying for a student loan
All full-time undergraduate students are eligible for student finance as long as:

  • You’re a UK national or have settled status, normally live in your home country and have been living in the UK for three years before the beginning of your course.
  • Your university is a recognised publicly funded university, or a private institution studying a course approved for public funding.
  • Your course is a recognised full-time course, such as a first degree, a foundation degree, a Higher National Diploma (HND), or an Initial Teacher Training course.
  • This is your first higher education course – you can still get some funding if you’ve studied a HE course before, but it will be limited.

You can find out more about student finance and apply here: Student Finance England

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