What is higher education student finance?
So, you’ve made an application to UCAS for a higher education Degree and you are beyond excited about the offers you have received – well done! The subject of higher education student finance might also start to cross your mind and it may worry you, but fear not because this article should hopefully provide you with some useful information.
Student Finance England is a Government body who will pay for the Degree tuition fees and also award a maintenance loan for financial assistance towards the cost of living while you are studying at University. You will usually be notified when to apply for Student Finance, and applications for higher student finance can be made online: https://www.gov.uk/apply-online-for-student-finance
If the course cost is £9,250 per year, Student Finance England will pay for this amount for the duration of the Degree course and it gets paid directly to the college or University.
What is a maintenance loan and how much can I get?
Whether you choose to study at a local University or spread your wings and venture further afield, you could be awarded a maintenance loan to help you meet the cost of living (e.g. accommodation, travel, paying bills and shopping). After you make an application, Student Finance England will ask people in your household to provide details of their income and they might also need to provide supporting evidence. If you want to get an idea of how much maintenance loan you might potentially be awarded, you can use the Student Finance calculator available on the Student Finance website to give you an idea: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance-calculator However, this is only a guide and the actual figure will be confirmed after you have made an application for student finance.
What counts as household income?
*Your household income is your taxable income plus the income of:
- your parents – if you’re under 25 and live with them or depend on them financially
- one of your parents and their partner – if you’re under 25 and live with them or depend on them financially
- your partner – if you’re over 25 and live with them
When the financial details and any accompanying evidence is provided to Student Finance England, they will do a calculation and let you know how much maintenance loan they can award you. The maintenance loan is provided for each year of your studies and you will need to reapply for higher education student finance every year of your Degree course.
Who is Eligible?
*The Eligibility criteria is that you must be studying your course in the UK and it must be:
- a first degree (BA, BSc, BEd or LLB)
- a Foundation Degree
- a Certificate of Higher Education
- a Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
- a Higher National Certificate (HNC)
- a Higher National Diploma (HND)
- a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
- Initial Teacher Training
*You must also meet some residency requirements:
- you’re a UK national or have ‘settled status’ (no restrictions on how long you can stay)
- you normally live in England
- you’ve been living in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for 3 years before starting your course
*You might also be able to apply for Student Finance if you meet one of the following criteria:
- humanitarian protection
- EEA migrant worker
- child of a Swiss national
- child of a Turkish worker
*If you are an EU National, you may be eligible for help with your living costs if you’ve lived in the UK for more than 5 years before the first day of the first academic year of your course. If you do not have more than 5 years residency, you can apply via an EU Application which means that you will be awarded a tuition fee loan only to pay for the cost of your course.
What other funding might I be entitled to?
*Depending on your circumstances, you might also be entitled to the following:
- Childcare Grant
- Adult Dependants’ Grant
- Parents’ Learning Allowance
- Disabled Students’ Allowance
You may need to provide evidence to Student Finance England to receive this funding. It is also worth asking Universities about Scholarships and Bursaries which they offer directly to students, as this might provide another means of receiving extra money.
Do I need to pay the loans back?
Yes, but it will depend on your income when you have finished your Degree, left University and start working. You will start repaying a loan (tuition fee and maintenance loan) when:
- you earn over *£25,000 per year *(as of 6 April 2018)
- from the first April after you leave your course
*This is what the current repayment plan looks like:
|Your income per year||Monthly repayments|
|£25,000 and under||£0|
If you are working, your repayments are deducted automatically from your wages. If you are self-employed, HM Revenue and Customs will work out how much you pay from your tax return. If you never earn more than £21,000 per year, you will not make any repayments. The loan is wiped after 30 years.
So, you can see that it’s an easy system and it is there to support you whilst you study at University. Of course, you may want to find a part-time job or ask the Universities about being employed as a Student Ambassador to supplement the money you receive from Student Finance England. You will also gain lots of transferable skills from these part-time jobs which you can include on your CV, thereby improving your chances of securing employment after you have graduated.
When you do come to make an application for higher education student finance and you need help, you can book an appointment to see a Welfare Advisor at Leicester College who can assist you with the application process and answer any further questions you might have.
*Source of information: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance
By Sonia Riyait