Tuition fee loans
If you live in England and are applying to university in the UK you may be able to borrow money to cover the cost of your tuition fees.
If you are currently in Clearing, you are encouraged to apply for student finance as soon as possible. Please see the Student Finance England’s guide for further information.
How much can I borrow?
You can borrow up to £9,250 for each year of full-time study and, if you are studying part-time, you can borrow up to £6,935. If you are doing an accelerated degree you can apply for up to £11,100.
This money will be paid directly to the university or college.
If you’re an EU, European Economic Area or Swiss citizen applying for a higher education or further education course starting after the 31st of July 2021, the rules regarding student loans have changed. To find out if you’re eligible for financial support, please see this government guidance. There is no change to support for Irish citizens living in the Republic of Ireland or the UK.
How to find out more about tuition fee loans
Loans for living costs
Student Finance England (SFE) provide a Maintenance Loan to help you with your living costs. All eligible students qualify for a non-income assessed minimum amount of Maintenance Loan to help with these costs.
How much can I borrow?
The government guide, "Understanding living costs while studying at university or college", provides information for students about what living cost funding is available (including student finance) for those living in England.
How to find out more about maintenance loans
The government website, gov.uk, has detailed information about maintenance loans.
Repaying your loan
You will need to pay back your Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance Loan. You do not need to pay back other student finance, for example grants and bursaries, unless you’ve been paid too much.
You’ll only start repaying when your income is over the threshold amount for your repayment plan. The threshold amounts change on 6 April every year.
The earliest you’ll start repaying is either:
- the April after you leave your course
- the April 4 years after the course started, if you’re studying part-time
Your repayments automatically stop if either:
- you stop working
- your income goes below the threshold
The Student Loans Company repayment guide provides information on repaying your student loan.
Bursaries, grants and scholarships
You don’t need to pay back a bursary, grant or scholarship.
Scholarships are often given to those who do very well academically, or excel in areas like music or sport.
Bursaries and grants are usually awarded to students based on their personal circumstances. This could be having a low income or being from a background where fewer people go to uni.
There are special bursaries available for students studying teacher training or social work.
How to find out more about bursaries and scholarships
University and college websites will have information about bursaries and scholarships they provide. They will tell you what criteria you need to meet. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible then you can contact them.
You can find links to bursary and scholarship information on our course pages.
There is extra help available for:
- Care leavers or students who are estranged from their parents
- Students who have dependent children, or who are caring for an adult
- Disabled students
- Students who have a low household income.
A fee waiver is when a university or college pays part, and sometimes all, of a student’s tuition fees. This means you will need to borrow less money.
This option might be offered to you if you have a low household income or are a care leaver.
If you have a disability or additional needs, you may be able to get Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) to cover any extra study costs. This can include mental health conditions, epilepsy or dyslexia.
You will need to be assessed or provide evidence, but there’s money available to pay for:
- specialist equipment or software
- a non-medical helper
- other things that help your studies such as travel, books, or printing.
Disabled Students’ Allowances do not depend on your household income and do not need to be paid back.
GOV.UK has more information about eligibility and maximum amounts for DSA.
Disability Rights UK has factsheets about DSA and other useful information.
Care leavers are entitled to a maximum maintenance loan and there is help from other sources available specifically for care leavers.
SFE have published new guidance to support care leavers applying for student finance.
Higher Education Bursary
This is a bursary of £2,000 paid by your local authority. It’s usually paid in instalments over the duration of the course. However, local authorities also have their own care leavers pledge, which differs from county to county. Speak to your social worker, leaving care worker or personal assistant who will be able to advise you.
Leaving Care Grant
This is a grant paid by your local authority when you leave care to help you with the costs of setting up home, including things you need when you go to university. Government guidance says it should be at least £2,000.
There are charities and foundations that can provide support.
Propel has been set up by Become, the charity for children in care and young care leavers and has a wealth of information around financial support across the UK.
The Unite Foundation works in partnership with 27 universities across the UK and offers bursaries and scholarships. You will need to apply for these and they are not guaranteed.
Care leavers (up to the age of 24) who choose to start an apprenticeship will receive a £1,000 bursary to help with the transition to the workplace.
University or college bursaries
Universities and colleges usually have grants and bursaries for care experienced students. These may include:
- fee waivers
- fee reductions
- reduced accommodation fees
You can check what you may be entitled to with your chosen university or college.
If you are estranged from your family, your parents’ income is not taken into account for student finance. You can also sometimes get extra help from other sources. SFE has published guidance to support students who are estranged from their parents in applying for student finance.
StandAlone is a charity that offers extra support for young people (18–25 year old for student finance) who become estranged from their family.
Students caring for children or for an adult
You may be able to get help in the form of a grant. This does not have to be paid back and is on top of other student finance.
Childcare Grant (full-time students only)
Parents’ Learning Allowance (full-time students only)
Adult Dependants’ Grant (full-time students only)
Students experiencing financial hardship
Your university or college may give you extra money if you’re experiencing financial hardship. They will decide if you’re eligible and how much you will get. Check with them to see if you can apply.
Other things to consider
Working while studying
Working while studying can help. You can work part-time while studying, as well as working during summer holidays.
If you do a degree apprenticeship, you will work alongside studying and be paid for it. Your employer will also pay your tuition fees.
Find out more about degree apprenticeships.
You may be receiving larger amounts of money than you are used to managing. It’s important to budget so that you can make it last.
You can find advice on budgeting at:
Applying for student finance
If you’re thinking of attending university or college this year in England, you should apply for student finance now. Just use your first choice of course and then change your application if you need to. See the latest application guidance from Student Finance England (SFE) for details of how to apply.
If you’re going through Clearing or have still to apply yet, SFE have guidance on how to complete your application as quickly as possible.
If you apply for a higher amount of student finance based on your household income, make sure to ask your parents or partner to provide their financial information as soon as possible to avoid delays to your application.
It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks to process an application, and there’s no need to call SFE for an update while they do this. While you’re waiting for an update, keep checking your ‘to-do list’ in your online account in case they need more information or evidence from you to progress your application.
For general information on student finance, see the Gov.uk student finance guide.
You can also follow Student Finance England on the following social media channels:
You will need a bank account to apply for student finance. There are a number of student bank accounts that offer a range of incentives.
For more information visit MoneySavingExpert - student bank accounts