Tuition fee loans
If you live in Wales and are applying to a university or college in the UK you may be able to borrow money to cover the cost of your tuition fees.
There is no upper age limit to qualify for a tuition fee loan.
This money will be paid directly to the university or college.
If you are currently in Clearing, you are encouraged to apply for student finance as soon as possible. Please see further information and guidance from Student Finance Wales.
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 guidance from Student Finance Wales. There is no change to support for Irish citizens living in the Republic of Ireland or the UK.
How much can I borrow?
If you live in Wales and study at a public university or college in Wales, you can borrow up to £9,000 for each year of full-time study.
If you study in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you can borrow up to £9,250 if you study at a public university or college. This is because the maximum fee they can charge is slightly higher than in Wales. You can borrow up to £6,165 if you study at a private university or college.
If you study part-time, you can get a loan if you are studying the equivalent of at least 25% of full-time study.
If you are not sure if a course qualifies for student finance, check with the university or college.
For further information, visit the Student Finance Wales website.
Grants and loans for living costs
Support for living costs is available through a combination of grants and loans. The balance between these depends on your household income and you will receive more in grants if your income is lower. You do not need to pay back a grant unless you have been paid too much. This can happen if you leave the course early or drop out.
Grant and maintenance loan payments are made directly into your bank account at the start of each term. Your university or college needs to confirm your attendance before payments can begin.
Student Finance Wales has an up-to-date list of the support available.
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.
Student Finance Wales has more information about tuition fee loans.
For detailed information on how and when to repay, visit the Student Loans Company website for repayment information.
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.
You may be able to get a special bursary if you study:
Scholarships for studying in the medium of Welsh
You can apply to Y Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol for funding if you study at least 40 credits a year through the medium of Welsh.
Welsh universities and colleges may also have their own bursaries or scholarships if you study part of your course through the medium of Welsh.
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 for students who may need it. These students include:
- 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
They may also be eligible for the Special Support Grant.
A fee waiver is when a university or college pays part, and occasionally all, of a student’s tuition fee. This means you will need to borrow less money.
This is an option that might be offered to you if you’re on a low income.
Further information on the part-time fee waiver is available on HEFCW’s website.
If you are disabled or have additional needs, you may be able to get Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) to cover any extra study costs. This can include mental health conditions, epilepsy or dyslexia.
You will need to be assessed or to 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.
Student Finance Wales has more information about eligibility and maximum amounts for DSA.
Disability Rights UK has factsheets about DSA and other useful information.
Care leavers are automatically awarded the maximum maintenance grant. This includes care leavers who have a partner or who are married. They are also eligible for a maintenance loan.
Care leavers who study part-time are eligible for maintenance grant of £5,000 divided by the intensity of study (e.g. a half-time student would receive 50% of £5,000), as well as a maintenance loan.
Local authorities in Wales may also be able to provide support from the St David’s Day Fund. This can include support with equipment, books and other course costs.
You can find out about local authority support from your personal adviser, social worker or case worker. It’s best to talk to them early in the process to ensure that appropriate support is available.
There are charities and foundations that can support care leavers. Two of these are:
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.
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.
StandAlone is a charity offering support to young people (18-25 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.
Students experiencing financial hardship
Your uni 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 your chosen uni to see if you can apply.
Your entitlement to some of these may be affected by support you already receive.
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, you should apply for student finance now. Just use your first choice of course and then change your application if you need to. Student Finance Wales have published guidance on how to apply.
If you’re going through Clearing or have still to apply yet, Student Finance Wales have guidance on how to complete your application as quickly as possible.
If you apply for the higher amount of student finance based on your household income, make sure to ask your parent(s) 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 SFW for an update while they do this. While you’re waiting for an update you should check your ‘to-do list’ in your online account in case they need more information or evidence from you. If you do not complete the actions on your ‘to-do list’, your application will not be able to be progressed.
For general information on student finance, visit the Student Finance Wales website.
You can also follow Student Finance Wales 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