Student Finance: Grants, Loans, Applications (+ How to Start Guide)

student-finance-in-the-uk
student-finance-in-the-uk

If you’re wondering how you’ll fund your degree, there’s no need to worry. As there are plenty of student finance/ loan options in UK that can cover your cost of tuition and living costs.


Whether it’s an undergraduate degree, foundation degree, Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE), Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) or Initial Teacher Training (ITT) course, there are student finance options to help with these costs.

Even if you are a part-time student, so long as you’re offering at least 25% of the equivalent full-time course across an academic year, you may be eligible for a student loan.

This makes it your lucky day as this article will explain all you need to know about student finance, loan, grants and how to apply for it regardless of which part of the UK you are in.


So, without further ado, Let’s get started with the basics!

What is Student Finance?

Student finance is a broad term used to describe a situation where a student is assisted financially by the government to further his or her post-secondary education also known as college.


Also known as a student loan or grants, It comes in different types – Tuition fee loans and maintenance loans. And the fact that the interest rate is lower than other normal and the repayment schedule is deferred while the student is still in school, really explains it as “student” finance.

As an undergraduate or postgraduate student, you can apply for tuition fee and maintenace loans which include housing fee, living costs and course fees. However, it all depends on where you study and if you’re eligible.

What Is Student Finance In The UK?

Student finance differs from each country by their laws regarding negotiation and bankruptcy.

According to Wikipedia, Student loans in the UK are collected by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HRMC) through the tax system and are calculated based on the borrower’s level of income. For example, if the borrower’s income is below a certain level (£15,000 per tax year for 2011/2012, £21,000 per tax year for 2012/2013), no repayments are required, though interest continues to accumulate.


In addition, the student loans are canceled if the borrower dies or becomes permanently unable to work to pay back his or her loan. And depending on which part of UK the borrower is from, the loan can also be canceled if the borrower reaches a certain age or the loan gets up to 30 years.

Who Can Get Student Finance?

You may be eligible for Student finance depending on the following:

  • University or college
  • Your course of study
  • Age
  • Your nationality or residency status
  • If you’ve studied higher education course before.

#1.Your University or College

For you to be eligible for a student grant, you have to enrol in a university, college or institution that offers a qualifying course as approved by the Government of UK.

These schools are divided into two – Recognised bodies and Listed Bodies. Recognised bodies are higher institutions of learnings (university or college) that can award degrees. While Listed bodies are those that cannot award degrees. If you study a degree course at any listed body, your degree will be awarded by a recognised body.

The reason is because if your degree is not from an officially recognised UK university or college, there’s no guarantee that it’ll count when you’re looking for a job.

So, ensure your university or college is officially recognised, as that is the first step to become eligible for student finance. You can check with the office for students at providerverification@officeforstudents.org.uk to know if your university or college is recognised.

#2. Your Course of Study

If your university or college is officially recognised, the next step is to check if your course of study is officially recognised too.

If you’re studying a full-time course, you may be eligible for student finance if it is in the UK and one of the following:

  • An integrated Master’s degree
  • A first degree, e.g. BA, BSc or BEd
  • A Certificate of Higher Education
  • An Initial Teacher Training course
  • A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
  • A Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • A pre-registration postgraduate healthcare course
  • A Foundation Degree

If you’re studying a part-time course, Your course needs an intensity of 25% or more for you to be eligible for student finances.

You’ll be eligible for a Tuition fee if your course is in the UK and any of the following:

  • An integrated Master’s degree
  • A first degree, e.g. BA, BSc or BEd
  • A Certificate of Higher Education
  • An Initial Teacher Training course
  • A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
  • A Higher National Certificate (HNC)
  • Higher National Diploma (HND)
  • A Foundation Degree

You’ll be eligible for a Maintenance Loan if your course is any of the following:

  • An integrated Master’s degree
  • A first degree, e.g. BA, BSc or BEd
  • An Initial Teacher Training course (If it’s degree level or above)
  • A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) in dental hygiene and dental therapy or operating department practice.
  • A Foundation Degree in dental hygiene and dental therapy.

#3. Age

There’s no specific upper age limit for Student Finance or Tuition Fee Loans or grants. However, you may get limited funding for Maintenance Loans if all the following apply:

  • You’re 60 years or over on the first day of the first academic year of your course
  • You’re 60 years studying full-time
  • Your course started on or after 1 August 2016 and you’re 60.

Additionally, the amount you can apply for depends on your household income.

#4. Your Nationality or Residency status

If you’re a UK national, you’re eligible for student finance if the following apply:

  • You’re a UK national or have “settled status” (This means that you have no restrictions on how long you can stay)
  • You originally live in England
  • You’ve been living in the UK, The Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for 3 continuous years before the first day of your course, apart from temporary absences such as vacations.

For Non-UK nationals, you may be eligible if your residency status is one o the following

  • You must have settled status on the first day of the first academic year of the course – which could be 1 September, 1 January, 1 April, or 1 July.
  • Refugee (including family members)
  • Child of a Swiss national
  • Child of a Turkish worker
  • A stateless person
  • A migrant worker from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (including family members)

More information about nationality and residency status can be seen on the Gov.UK website.

#5 If You Have Previously Studied

Usually, you’ll get just one student finance if you’re doing your first higher education qualification even if your previous was self-funded. And you may still be eligible for limited funding in certain circumstance and for some courses.

If you stopped your course within the first year, you’ll get funding for the same course or a new course when you go back.

You may also get funding if you:

  • suspended your course or withdrew before it finished – and you’re going back to study any course
  • are repeating a year of your course at the same university, college, or institution.

You can find more information about student loans if you’ve studied higher education before on the Gov.UK website.

Before Applying For Student Finance In the UK

Before you apply for student finance or loan or grant in the UK, you have to do a thorough check and be sure it’s something you need and you have a plan on how to pay back.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to come up with a solid decision.

  • How much does a university or college cost?
  • What is the universal credit if you’re a student?
  • Am I eligible as an English student?
  • What is the process for Scottish, Wales, and Northern Ireland Students?

Let’s look at the context of each of these questions.

#1. How much does a university or college cost?

Public-funded universities and colleges in England have a tuition fee of £9,250 for the 2020/21 academic year. This applies to undergraduate students taking full-time courses at the university and universities that are recognised by the office for students.

On the other hand, students undergoing full-time undergraduate accelerated courses can have up to £11,100 as tuition fees.

If you live in Northern ireland, Scotland and Wales, you have different maximum fee limits, and in most cases, your nation’s student finance agency may cover some or all of your tuition.

For Scottish students, the tuition fees for full-time undergraduate courses at a publicly-funded Scottish Higher education Institutions as set by the Scottish Government is at £1,820.

Find out more on the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) Website

If you live in Wales and are studying at a Regulated University in Wales, the maximum tuition fee you can be charged is  £9,000.

Find out more on the Student Finance Wales Website.

While if you live in Northern Ireland studying a full-time course at a publicly funded university in Northern Ireland, the maximum tuition you can be charged is £4,395.

Find out more on the Student Finance NI Website.

So, if you belong to any of the category above, you can apply for a tuition fee loan to cover your undergraduate tuition fee at an approved publicly-funded university where you reside.

#2. What is the universal credit if you’re a student?

Universal credit is an advance payment of the student loan you requested for. And most times, scammers use this to cheat you off your money with a claim that it is free money from the government.

So ensure you contact your student finance agency yourself and be sure of how the processes are going.

#3. Am I eligible as an English student?

There are two types of student loan available to students studying in England – Living costs and Maintenance costs.

Find out what makes you eligible as an English student on the Gov.UK website.

#4. What is the process for Scottish, Wales, and Northern Ireland Students?

The process for student loan application is entirely different for students from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For students in Scotland, the student can apply for tuition fee and maintenance cost to the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).

While those in Wales and Northern Ireland can apply to Student Finance Wales, and Northern Ireland respectively.

How to Apply For Student Finance/Loan/Grants

How you apply depends on your eligibility for student finance in UK. Since there are different modes of application for the different students, we’ll explain them individually.

#1. For New Students From England

As a full-time or part-time student, you can apply online to Student Finance England. Below are the processes to apply for student finance in England, UK

  • Set up a student finance online account
  • Log in and complete the online application
  • Include your household income if requested. Your parent or partner will be asked to confirm the details.
  • Send in proof of identity if needed.

For further information, visit the Gov.UK website.

#2. For students from Scotland

To apply for student loan as a Scottish student, you can apply online at the SAAS website.

Below are the processes to apply for student finance in Scotland.

  • Set up a SAAS account
  • Log in and complete the online application to get your SAAS reference number
  • Include your household income if requested. Your parent or partner will have to confirm the details.
  • Also, include your National Insurance number

For further information, visit the SAAS website.

#3. For students from Northern Ireland

To apply for student loan as a student from Northern Ireland, you can apply online at the Student finance Northern Ireland website.

Below are the processes to apply for student finance in Northern Ireland online..

  • Set up a student finance account, but undergraduate EU students need to download a form to apply.
  • Log in and complete the online application by answering any questions you’re asked. The questions include; personal details, course informaton, previous study, National insurance and bank or building society details, and lots more.
  • Include your household income if requested. Your parent or partner will be asked to confirm the details.
  • Also, send proof of identity.

Visit the student finance Northern Ireland website to get further information.

In Summary

There’s no need to give up on your dreams if you can’t fund your education. You can apply for student finance/ loan in the UK and if you’re eligible, you can go ahead and study.

Pay back after school when you’re most likely working your dream job.

Let me know your experience with student finances in the comment box below. While I hope this helps you!

Good luck!

For more information, visit these websites according to your category.

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