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Student Finance

Student Finance in Wales 2024

Baffled by Welsh Student Finance? This bite-sized guide can help you make sense of the funding on offer – and how to get your claws on it.

wales millenium centre

From grants to loans, students from Wales get access to a whole range of support to help them with their finance at university – which means you can get a degree without being a millionaire!

If you're struggling to work out exactly what's on offer, that's where we come in. Student Finance is different across the UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all have their own systems, which can make it really confusing.

To make it as simple as possible, this guide specifically looks at what support is available from the Welsh government for students from Wales.

This guide covers full-time undergraduate Student Finance only. We've also got guides on loans for part-time students, Welsh master's students and those studying for a PhD.

Student Finance Wales: A brief overview

Before we get into the details, these are the main things to know about Student Finance for students from Wales:

  1. The maximum annual tuition fee in Wales in 2024/25 is £9,250.
  2. Most first-time students can get a loan to help to pay for fees. You won't need to cough up everything (or, in most cases, anything) up front.
  3. There are Maintenance Loans and Grants for living costs, plus extra funding for special circumstances and emergencies – some of which don't need to be paid back.
  4. If you opt for a Student Loan, you won't need to start paying it back until the April after you graduate and when you're earning more than £27,295.
  5. Any remaining loan you haven't repaid after 30 years is written off.

Student Finance in Wales

As we explained earlier, Student Finance offerings vary across the UK. But, rather than being affected by where you end up studying, the funding body you apply to is determined by where you normally live when you're not at uni.

So, if you normally live in Wales, you'll apply for funding from Student Finance Wales – no matter where in the UK you're planning to study.

If that applies to you, the following information is what you're after. If not, you'll want to check out our guides to Student Loans in England, Northern Ireland or Scotland.

Eligibility for Student Finance

red pen ticking boxes

Credit: Kenishirotie – Shutterstock

In order to receive funding from Student Finance Wales, you normally need to meet the following residency criteria:

  • You're a UK citizen or have 'settled status'.
  • You must be living in Wales on the first day of the first academic year of your course. However, you can't have moved to Wales just for uni – it needs to be where you normally live.
  • You've lived in the UK for at least three years before starting your course.

That said, there are a few additional groups who may be eligible. Students from the Republic of Ireland, refugees, and family members of UK nationals are among those who are also able to apply for funding from Student Finance Wales.

Beyond the residency criteria, you must be studying at a government-funded uni or college, or at a privately-funded institution running individual courses that have been approved for funding by the Welsh government. Again, if you're unsure if this includes you, get in touch with Student Finance Wales or contact your uni/college.

Your course must lead to one of a number of qualifications, including First Degrees (Bachelor of Arts and Science, and so on), Foundation Degrees, PGCEs and more.

Finally, while there is no upper age limit for Maintenance Grants or Tuition Fee Loans, you must be aged under 60 on the first day of the first academic year of your course (usually 1st September) to be eligible for a Maintenance Loan.

When you're ready to get started, here's everything you need to know about applying for Student Finance.

Tuition Fees in Wales

As of 2024/25, tuition fees at Welsh universities are capped at £9,250.

In the past, Welsh students were able to apply for a grant that covered around half of this sum. However, as of the 2018/19 academic year, these grants are no longer available to new students.

But don't panic, because as long as you're eligible, you'll get a Tuition Fee Loan.

If you're studying at a public university or college, this will cover 100% of the cost of tuition up front. But, if you're studying at a private institution, it's likely that the maximum loan won't cover the cost in full – especially as there is no cap on fees at private unis.

The maximum Tuition Fee Loans available to Welsh students are £9,250 for those studying at a public uni or college and £6,165 if you're studying at a private university or college.

If you started uni before 1st August 2018, your loans will be different. Visit Student Finance Wales’s website for more info.

Maintenance Loans and Grants

piggy bank with graduate cap

Back in August 2018, Student Finance Wales started a new system of financial support whereby the same amount is offered to all eligible students in similar living situations to help with living costs.

While we'll refrain from ranking the Student Finance offerings of each country (because why would you want to?), we will say that the Welsh system is certainly more generous than some others.

As is the case in most parts of the UK, your maintenance support is paid directly into your bank account in termly chunks. So, once you get it, you'll need to make it last!

Maintenance Loan

All new Welsh students and those who started on or after 1st August 2018 will receive their maintenance package as a mixture of grants (which don't have to be paid back) and loans (which do have to be paid back). How much of each component you receive will depend on what your household income is.

For students from households with lower incomes, more of your support package will be in the form of a grant. If your household income is higher, more of your maintenance support will come in the form of a loan.

It's also worth noting that all Welsh students eligible for funding with similar living circumstances will receive exactly the same amount of money. You'll receive a total of £10,315, £12,150 or £15,170, depending on where you end up living.

There's only one thing that changes in the support given to students with similar living circumstances, and that's how much of the support comes as a grant or a loan – a split that's determined by your household income.

This table is a quick guide to the maximum loans and grants available to new Welsh students, based on whether you're living with your parents:

Maintenance support for Welsh students living at home 2024/25

Household incomeGrantLoanTotal
£18,370 or less£6,885£3,430£10,315

... away from home but outside of London:

Maintenance support for Welsh students living away from home 2024/25

Household incomeGrantLoanTotal
£18,370 or less£8,100£4,050£12,150

... and away from home and in London:

Maintenance support for Welsh students living in London 2024/25

Household incomeGrantLoanTotal
£18,370 or less£10,124£5,046£15,170

Special Support Grant

The Special Support Grant (SSG) is available to all Welsh students, regardless of your start date, and it won't reduce the size of Maintenance Loan you're entitled to either.

The SSG is designed to give extra funding (up to £5,161) to students with one of a number of extenuating circumstances, some of which include:

  • You're a single parent with dependent children
  • You have dependent children and your partner is also a full-time student
  • You're eligible for certain specified disability benefits.

To find out whether or not you could qualify for SSG, check out the Student Finance Wales website.

Remember, this guide is just for full-time students. If that's not you, check out our guide to part-time Student Loans in Wales for more information.

Other funding sources for Welsh students

10 pound notes

While there are loads of other funding sources out there, getting your hands on them can be tricky.

Take a look at our full guide to student grants, or ask Student Finance Wales about:

  • Maintenance Loan top-ups if your course lasts longer than 30 term-time weeks
  • Childcare Grant
  • Parents' Learning Allowance
  • Adult Dependants' Grant (if you're financially responsible for another adult you live with)
  • Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA)
  • Travel Grants.

Beyond Student Finance there's plenty in the pot – if you know where to look:

  • NHS funding for eligible courses (a non-repayable grant and bursary on top of the Maintenance Loan)
  • Social work bursary or support for teacher training
  • Uni bursaries and scholarships
  • Business sponsorships, government incentives and charity funds
  • All kinds of weird and wonderful bursaries.
Grants, scholarships, bursaries and allowances usually don't have to be paid back. Loans do!

Repaying your Welsh Student Loan

Once you take out a Student Loan, you don't need to worry about repaying the money until you've left your course… or do you? Here's what else counts.

First up, you should know that the loan starts brewing interest from day one and does so until you clear the final payment (or the loan's wiped off). This means you'll end up owing more than you actually borrowed.

Student Loans in Wales operate under the Plan 2 system, meaning interest is usually calculated using the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus up to 3%. While that still beats most commercial loans hands down (especially private student loans), remember that RPI essentially measures the rate of inflation so it can go up or down.

While you're studying, interest on your loan will be set at the full RPI plus 3%. Once you've graduated, interest is set on a sliding scale.

Anyone earning under the repayment threshold (£27,295) gets RPI, and for every £1,000 (ish) over £27,295 that you earn, you'll add another 0.15% onto your interest, up to 3%. This means that anyone earning £49,130 or more will be accruing the maximum interest rate of RPI plus 3%.

You don't start repaying the loan until the April after you've left your course and earn more than £27,295 a year in wages or other taxable income.

Once you hit the threshold, repayments are automatically docked from your wages before you get paid. That is, unless you're self-employed, in which case it's calculated when you submit your self-assessment tax return. Either way, you pay 9% on anything you earn above the threshold (not your whole salary!).

The RPI rate is set each September and uses the rate from March of that year. However, as inflation has been so high this academic year, the government decided to apply a flat rate instead. As such, from 1st June 2024, the interest rate is 7.9%.

Student Loan repayments for Welsh students

Annual salaryPlan 2 monthly repayments (6th April 2024 – 5th April 2025)

Crucially, if your income falls below the threshold at any time, repayments stop until you're back over the line. However, it's important to remember that the government can change the terms of the Student Loan agreement.

When tuition fees were overhauled in 2012, the repayment threshold was £21,000 and was meant to rise each year. The government then backtracked on this and froze it, before later u-turning again in 2017, announcing it would be rising to £25,000, increasing each year thereafter with inflation. Yet, the threshold is currently frozen at £27,295 until April 2025.

This highlights that the terms aren't set in stone!

For full details on your repayment terms, check out our guide to understanding Plan 2 loans.

Welsh Partial Cancellation of Maintenance Loan

A bit of a mouthful for what's actually a sweet deal: take out a Maintenance Loan in Wales and, when you make your first repayment (minimum £5), the Welsh Government will pay off up to £1,500 of your balance.

Check with Student Finance Wales for the small print.

10 top tips for paying for uni

pink piggy bank

As if all of that wasn't enough, here are 10 extra tips for getting the most out of the Student Finance system in Wales:

  1. Make a budget when you start applying for uni. This will give you an idea of how much you need to get by and where you can cut costs if you need to.
  2. Apply for Student Finance sooner rather than later. It'll give you time to chase paperwork, send in evidence and iron out any problems.
  3. Know what counts as taxable income when applying for Student Finance.
  4. You won't get your first loan/grant instalment until you officially register on your course. Keep some cash to hand for when you land on campus, in case your loan is late.
  5. If you can afford to, slice off a bit of every loan or grant payment you get and stick it in a high-interest savings account. You could turn it into no-effort passive income.
  6. Don't forget to reapply for Student Finance every year of your course.
  7. Exhaust all the other funding options – don't just assume you won't get anything. Loads of students miss out on niche scholarships and bursaries every year because they don't know they're there, or don't bother applying.
  8. Wherever you get it from, learn how to make your money last.
  9. If part-time work isn't an option, don't forget there are a million ways (give or take) to make extra cash.
  10. Find out about your uni's hardship funds and how to apply if you need extra cash.

Now you've done the hard bit, it's time to get everything you need for uni.

Tom Allingham

WRITTEN BY Tom Allingham

Tom joined Save the Student in 2017, initially heading up the editorial team before becoming Communications Director. He has appeared as a Student Finance expert on a range of TV and radio stations including the BBC, ITV and Sky, sharing his top tips for saving money and cutting student bills.
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