Moving to university can be such a mixture of emotions. You’ve got the excitement of all the experiences you have ahead of you, combined with the nerves of being away from your family and friends for so long. This emotional rollercoaster is then heightened by the daunting process of student finance.
Student finance is something that probably confuses students from when they first apply for university in sixth form, right up until third year. So you can rest assured that if you’re struggling to understand how much of a loan you’re supposed to receive, the chances are most of your peers are too.
Luckily for you, we’ve done some research, and broken down how much student finance you will be receiving in the coming months and when, as well as any extra bursaries you can apply for to help you out along the way.
We’ll ease you into it with a nice and simple element of student finance; tuition fees. Your tuition fees get paid directly to the university by the government, so you never have to worry about that transaction. For UK undergraduate students, English universities charge £9250 per year of study. According to Times Higher Education (THE) Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each charge differently for their home students. In Wales, tuition for Welsh students is £9000, but you can apply for a grant to cover some of the cost. Scottish students who attend a Scottish university are not charged any tuition fees! For Northern Irish students who attend a university in Northern Ireland, tuition fees can be “up to £4275” (THE), instead of the £9250 charged to UK students from England, Scotland or Wales.
Things get more complicated when it comes to the maintenance loan. This varies between students, depending on your household income and whether you’re studying in London or not. Obviously, if you have a higher household income, you will be entitled to a lower loan than someone who has a low household income, under the logic that your parents are more likely to be able to support you through your studies.. Save the Student have published several handy charts, outlining the different thresholds for maintenance loans based on household income in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
In England, students can apply for a maintenance loan, all of which must be paid back.
The amount of maintenance loan a student receives decreases in proportion with an increase in household income. For example, students with a household income of less than £25,000 are entitled to £9,203 maintenance loan if they are living away from home. If they are living at home, then it is £7,747 because there wouldn’t be the same extent of rent to cover. On the other end of the scale, students whose parents earn over £62,249 are entitled to receive £4,289 if they are living away from home, or £3,410 if they stay at home.
Maintenance Grants in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, students can receive a “maintenance grant”, as well as their loan, which doesn’t need to be paid back, unlike their loan. Similarly to the loan, the maintenance grant is issued in relation to your household income, meaning that students with a low household income are entitled to a higher grant, whereas students with a high household income may not be entitled to any at all.
Northern Irish Students
Similar to the English maintenance loan, you will be entitled to a different loan and grant not just based on household income, but also depending on whether you’re living away from home or not, and also if you’re living in London. According to Save the Student, students with a household income of £30,000 will receive a total of £4,840, consisting of both grant and loan. As the household income increases, the value of the grant decreases, whereas the loan increases, meaning students with higher household incomes will have more to payback in the future, despite receiving the same overall total as students with lower household incomes.
Scottish students receive the same amount of loan regardless of whether they are living at home, away from home, or in London, but still based on their household income. The previously mentioned chart on Save the Student demonstrates how the thresholds for different loans are based on four different bands of income; starting with £0-£20,999 (receiving £7750 loan) and ending with £34,000 and over (receiving £4750 loan). Scottish students can receive a bursary alongside their loan, apart from those in the highest income band.
Similar to Northern Irish and Scottish students, Welsh students receive a grant and a loan. However, the main difference is that all Welsh students receive the same grand total, but with different ratios of grant-to-loan. Therefore, regardless of your household income, as a Welsh student, you will receive £8,335 if you are living at home; £9,810 if you live away from home outside of London; or £12,260 if you study in London. The grant available decreases as household income increases, with the highest entitlement being £8,100 for students with a household income of £18,370 or less, living away from home outside of London. The lowest grant available is £1,000 for students with a household income of £59,200 or more.
Students studying in London
If you’re studying in London, you will be entitled to receive a higher maintenance loan than people studying elsewhere, because let’s face it; London is expensive! Apart from Scottish students (see above), there is a higher loan for each level of household income, with the hope that it should cater for the higher cost of living in London. Similar to the rest of the maintenance loan, students from low-income households have a higher increase in maintenance loan if they study in London, whereas students from high-income households see less of a difference between their loan if they attended a university elsewhere, compared to London. As mentioned earlier, all Welsh students receive the same total of grant and loan, which also applies to those who study in London, with each receiving £12,260.
Other Bursaries and Grants
It can be discouraging if you’re applying for student finance, and it just does not seem like it will be enough to stay afloat. However, don’t let it put you off though because there are a lot of bursaries and grants that you may be eligible for if you have quick research on your university’s website you’ll be able to find which specialised grants and bursaries they offer. Student Finance England has various grants, bursaries and allowances on their website including; ‘Disabled student allowances’; ‘Childcare grant’; ‘Adult dependent grant’; and ‘Parents’ learning allowance’. If you think that one of these may apply to you, then I’d definitely encourage you to apply before it’s too late!
When will I get my loan?
If you applied for student finance on time, you should have received the first instalment of your loan on 5th October. The other two instalments should arrive in your bank account on 4th January and 12th April. However, if you applied late, the timings may be slightly later.
Paying back the loan
According to Student Finance England, you don’t have to start paying back your loan until the April after you graduate, and then not until you start earning over £26,575. When you do begin earning over the ‘repayment threshold’ you only then begin to pay 9% of your income towards the debt. Your loan is also written off 30 years after the April when you can start paying it back.
Hopefully, we’ve managed to ease your confusion about how much student finance you will receive because to be honest, it’s a lot to take in with all the different thresholds and incomes. Don’t let the process of applying for student finance put you off university in general, because you’ll soon learn that everyone is just as stressed as you are about it!