Starting your time at university can be an exciting time, but it also comes with many new responsibilities that can become stressful if you don’t plan carefully. One of the key areas of stress for students is their finances and organising their student loans. To help make sure that the only thing you need to worry about is your studies, here is everything you need to know about maintenance loans. If you want a brief summary of what you’re likely to get, take a look here!

What are maintenance loans?

Students can apply for a maintenance loan to cover their living costs during their time at university. Living costs usually refer to rent, food, bills, travel, and other expenses a student encounters during their time at university.

Can I apply for a maintenance loan?

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Whether you are eligible for a maintenance loan depends on a few different factors, including your age, nationality or resident status, your university or college, the course you have selected, and whether you have studied a higher education course before.

If you are a full-time student studying a foundation or integrated master’s degree, a higher national diploma or certificate, or a BA/BSc/BEd degree you may also be eligible for a maintenance loan.

You may also be eligible if you are studying a part-time course, but only if it has a course intensity of at least 25% and is in the UK. But it would need to be a BA/BSc/BEd degree, a foundation degree in dental hygiene and dental therapy, a DipHE in dental hygiene and dental therapy or operating department practice, an integrated masters degree, or an initial teacher training course.

How much can I get?

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If you are living away from home in London, you could receive up to £12,382 for the 2021 to 2022 academic year, or up to £9,488 if you are living away from home outside of London.

But if you already live near your university, and choose to continue living at home, you could still receive up to £7,987 for the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

Or if you are lucky enough to be spending a year studying abroad as part of a UK course, you could receive up to £10,866.

To find out more, use the student maintenance loan calculator. Or you can judge by looking at the student maintenance loans 2019/2020. But regardless of your household income, you’ll at least get the minimum maintenance loan for 2020/2021 which is £3,410.

How are maintenance loans calculated?

The maintenance loan you can receive is calculated by a few different factors, including how much your parents earn annually and where you will be living.

To estimate the maintenance loan you could receive, you can use the Student Finance Calculator. This will also help you calculate any extra funding you may receive, such as if you have children or a disability.

When do I need to apply?

It is always good to apply for a student maintenance loan sooner rather than later as the application usually takes around 6 weeks. Whilst you can still apply for a maintenance loan up to 9 months after the start of your academic year, you do not want to be in the position where you have no money for rent because you didn’t apply in time.

How do I apply?

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You can easily apply for student finance online through the government website, but you can also apply by post if you would prefer to do it that way. The application process will begin with checking that you are eligible to apply, before finding out how much you could receive, and checking if you can get any extra help.

Then you will prepare your application, which will go smoother if you know your parent’s annual income and have the official name of your course, before sending your application off.

After this, you can sit back and relax, but you will need to update your application details if your circumstances change. You should then hear back about your application in several weeks.

Once you have officially registered at your university or college, usually after results day, the maintenance loan will be transferred into your bank at the start of each term.

It is important to remember that you will need to reapply for a maintenance loan for each year of the course you are studying, so if you are not in your first year the process is a bit simpler as all you need to do is make sure your details are kept up to date before reapplying.

When do I pay back the maintenance loan?

Both maintenance and tuition loans don’t need to be paid back until after the student has finished their course, and they have an income over a specific amount. They then pay back a little each month based on their income rather than how much they borrowed.

If you lose your job or have financial difficulties at any point, the repayments will pause, and after 30 years any remaining student debt is usually written off.

If you want to know about other student loans and financial help, check out our in-depth guide.