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Student Finance

Student Finance for mature students 2024

Thinking about going to university after some time out of education? Here's everything you need to know about the funding available to mature students.

mature student in class

Credit: Monkey Business Images – Shutterstock

There are hundreds of thousands of mature students in the UK, many of whom have additional responsibilities outside of their studies.

Often these challenges aren't unique to mature students. But things like caring for children, paying off a mortgage and holding down a full-time job are all more likely to act as a barrier if you're starting university a little later in life.

To help you make the most of your time as a mature student, we've put together a comprehensive guide on all the funding available to you. Read on to find out how much you could get, both as a full- and part-time mature student.

The information below is for first-time undergraduate students only. You're usually only eligible for funding for one undergraduate course, as we explain in our guide to Maintenance Loans.

What is a mature student?

For official purposes, a mature student is anyone who starts an undergraduate degree aged 21 or above.

But this definition is mostly just used for statistics. Although some bursaries and scholarships for mature students only accept applicants who are at least 21, others specify that you need to be older.

And, for most people, the big differences only kick in when you're 25 or above, as this is the age at which your Student Finance entitlement changes.

That said, if you're younger than 25 but already financially independent (or have dependants), you could be treated the same as other mature students for funding purposes.

Can mature students get Student Finance?

In short, yes, mature students can get Student Loans.

Student Finance in the UK is split into two components: Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. The former pays for your tuition, while the latter is intended to help with your living costs (although, unfortunately, it usually falls far short).

You apply for the two together and repay them as one loan, but they are paid separately.

The Tuition Fee Loan goes straight to your university, so you never see the cash. Meanwhile, the Maintenance Loan is paid to you in three chunks a year, one at the start of each semester (unless you're from Scotland, in which case you'll get your loan in monthly payments).

As a mature student, your entitlement to each part of the Student Loan varies depending on a range of factors. So, keep reading and allow us to explain it all.

Tuition Fee Loans for mature students

group of mature students stood together

Credit: Monkey Business Images – Shutterstock

Paying your tuition fees as a mature student is very straightforward. In fact, the process is exactly the same as it is for all other undergraduate students.

There's no age limit for receiving a Tuition Fee Loan – just the condition that you can't have studied at degree level before.

Assuming you meet all the other usual eligibility criteria, including residency and citizenship requirements, you should be able to apply for a Tuition Fee Loan that usually covers the cost in full.

Full-time Tuition Fee Loans for mature students 2024/25

You live in...Studying at a public uni in EnglandStudying at a public uni in N IrelandStudying at a public uni in ScotlandStudying at a public uni in WalesStudying at a private uni in the UK
Northern Ireland£9,250£4,750£9,250£9,250£4,750
Scotland£9,250£9,250£1,820*£9,250£1,205 (Scotland)
£6,165 (rest of UK)

* Tuition fees are usually free for Scottish students in Scotland. In the rare case that you're ineligible for the fee waiver, you should be able to get a loan to cover the £1,820 fees in full.

The table above outlines the maximum Tuition Fee Loan on offer each year, depending on where in the UK you'll be studying, and where you usually live outside of term time.

The vast majority of universities charge the maximum amount permitted for tuition fees in their part of the UK. This also happens to be the maximum loan on offer, so your fees should be totally covered.

There is one exception to this rule, though: private universities. These institutions aren't bound by the same cap on tuition fees, so there's no limit to what they can charge. What's more, the maximum Tuition Fee Loan for students at these institutions is smaller than at public unis.

With that in mind, if you're looking to attend a private university as a mature student, note that your loan may not cover the cost of tuition in full.

Part-time Tuition Fee Loans and Grants for mature students 2024/25

Similar to their full-time equivalents, part-time Tuition Fee Loans should normally cover the cost of your tuition in its entirety.

However, the amounts on offer vary drastically by circumstance. Where you normally live in the UK, where you'll be studying and the intensity of your course will all affect the size of Tuition Fee Loan you can apply for.

In addition, students from Northern Ireland and Scotland may even receive a Tuition Fee Grant.

Regardless of how much you receive, your loan should usually pay for your fees in full. For more information, read our guide to part-time Student Finance.

Tuition Fee Loans for mature students at the Open University

The Open University says that all its students are considered part-time, even if they're studying at the intensity of a full-time course.

This means that you'll only be eligible for a part-time Student Loan, even if you're studying full-time.

There are pros and cons to this. On the plus side, The Open University's full-time fees in England are £6,924 a year – about £2,000 less than full-time degrees at other unis, and still less than the maximum part-time Tuition Fee Loan available in England.

And, as you're technically not a full-time student, you have a better chance of being eligible to claim benefits.

However, not all countries in the UK offer part-time Student Finance as extensively as England does.

If you're not applying to Student Finance England, you may find that the maximum part-time Tuition Fee Loan or Grant doesn't cover your fees in full. In this case, you'd need to find another way to cover the remaining amount, be that from your own pocket or through bursaries, grants and scholarships.

Visit the regional Open University websites for more details on fees:

Mature students apply for Student Loans just as any other undergraduate does: through the relevant regional Student Finance body.

Maintenance Loans for mature students

mature student in lecture hall

Credit: Drazen Zigic – Shutterstock

Maintenance Loans are intended to go towards your living costs as a student. We mentioned earlier that they're very rarely enough, and this is especially true if, as a mature student, you have other financial commitments like children or a house.

But the repayment terms are relatively favourable, especially compared to private student loan providers. So, it's still worth applying for as much as you can get.

While the criteria vary slightly across the UK, the maximum amount you can apply for is largely dependent on whether or not you qualify as an 'independent student'.

Usually, the maintenance funding a student receives is based on their household income – typically, however much their parents earn. The higher the household income, the less generous the funding package.

As a mature student, you're arguably less likely to be dependent on your parents for financial support. Fortunately, you're also more likely to be classed as an independent student, which means your parents' income won't affect your Maintenance Loan entitlement.

Here are some of the more common reasons why you may qualify as an independent student:

  • You're aged 25 or over on the first day of the academic year
  • You've supported yourself financially for at least three years before the start of your course
  • You care for a person under the age of 18 on the first day of the academic year
  • You've been married or in a civil partnership before the academic year begins (including if you're now divorced or separated)
  • You have no living parents, or you're estranged from them.

Depending on your reason for claiming independent status, you may need to supply evidence to support your application. This could include a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, a P60 from a previous employer, or another similarly official document.

While your parents' earnings won't affect your Maintenance Loan as an independent student, your household income still might. These are a few of the major sources of income that you need to declare to Student Finance when applying for funding:

  • The income of your partner*
  • Interest earned from any form of bank or savings account
  • Earnings from any property, lettings or rent
  • Investments
  • Any payment you're receiving for attending the course (such as a sponsorship).

* This is defined as your husband, wife or civil partner, or your partner if you're over 25 and living with them.

Crucially, you usually don't need to declare any income from an employer, and in future years you won't need to declare earnings from a job during the academic year. Your partner, however, will have to declare any similar earnings of their own.

The sum total of all the forms of eligible income will be used to determine the size of your Maintenance Loan.

Scroll down to find out how this, as well as where you live while studying, will affect your entitlement. And remember: you apply for Student Finance from the part of the UK you normally live in, not necessarily where you'll be studying.

Across the UK, you must be under 60 (or 61 in Scotland) to receive a Maintenance Loan. In its place, you may be eligible for a Special Support Loan or Grant instead – contact your regional Student Finance body for more info.

English Maintenance Loans for mature students 2024/25

Household IncomeLiving at homeAway from home (outside London)Away from home (London)
£25,000 or less£8,610£10,227£13,348

You'll notice that some of the household income values are in bold. These represent the upper-income thresholds for students with each type of living arrangement.

If your household income is higher than the relevant threshold, you'll receive the minimum loan for a student in your situation. These amounts are:

  • £3,790 if you live at home and your household income is £58,307 or above
  • £4,767 if you live away from home and outside London, and your household income is £62,347 or above
  • £6,647 if you live away from home and in London, and your household income is £70,098 or above.

Regardless of where you live while studying, if your household income is below £25,001 a year, you'll receive the maximum loan on offer to someone with your living arrangements.

And note that the income figures we've listed are just examples. The loan you receive will be based on your exact household income, rather than a band of earnings.

Northern Irish Maintenance Loans and Grants for mature students 2024/25

As well as repayable Maintenance Loans, Northern Ireland offers Maintenance Grants that don't need to be repaid.

Here's how much you could receive, depending on where you'll be living while you study.

Living at home

Household incomeMaintenance GrantMaintenance LoanTotal support
£19,203 or less£3,475£3,135£6,610

Living away from home and outside of London

Household incomeMaintenance GrantMaintenance LoanTotal support
£19,203 or less£3,475£4,661£8,136

Living away from home and in London

Household incomeMaintenance GrantMaintenance LoanTotal support
£19,203 or less£3,475£7,377£10,852

Note that in all cases, the amount of funding you receive will be based on your exact household income. We've simply used round numbers in the tables above.

Scottish Maintenance Loans and Grants for mature students 2024/25

Unlike the rest of the UK, Scotland offers a different level of funding for independent and dependent (or 'young') students.

Young and independent students will receive broadly the same amount as their peers with a similar household income. What differs is how much of the funding is a loan (which needs to be repaid) and how much is a grant (which doesn't).

Here's how much you can expect to receive depending on how you're classified.

Independent students

Household incomeLoanBursaryTotal
£20,999 or less£10,400£1,000£11,400
£21,000 to £23,999£10,400£0£10,400
£24,000 to £33,999£9,900£0£9,900

Young students

Household incomeLoanBursaryTotal*
£20,999 or less£9,400£2,000£11,400
£21,000 to £23,999£9,400£1,125£10,525
£24,000 to £33,999£9,400£500£9,900

Bear in mind that Scotland is the only part of the UK to assess household income in bands, not specific amounts.

For example, two independent students with household incomes of £25,000 and £33,000 respectively would receive the exact same level of maintenance funding as each other.

Welsh Maintenance Loans and Grants for mature students 2024/25

In Wales, all students with the same living arrangements receive exactly the same amount of money. The only difference is how much of the funding comes as a repayable loan, and how much is a non-repayable grant.

Here are the amounts on offer based on your household income and where you'll be living while studying.

Living at home

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

Living away from home and outside of London

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

Living away from home and in London

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

Again, the household incomes we've listed in the tables above are illustrative examples. The amount you receive will be based on your exact household income.

Part-time Maintenance Loans for mature students in the UK 2024/25

Mature students can usually access the same part-time maintenance funding that their younger peers have access to.

The only exception applies to those aged 60 or above (or 61 and over in Scotland). If this includes you, don't panic – you may still be eligible for a Special Support Loan or Grant. Again, contact your regional Student Finance body for more info.

If you're under 60, you should be eligible to receive funding as long as you meet all of the criteria we explained earlier. Whether you're classified as an independent student, and how your household income is calculated, will be exactly the same as if you were a full-time mature student.

However, part-time maintenance funding is nowhere near as extensive as the full-time equivalent.

The packages in England and Wales are much the same, just with a chunk taken off depending on how intense your course is compared to the full-time version. But in Northern Ireland and Scotland, you'll be lucky to get even a few hundred pounds.

Our guide to part-time Student Finance has more info.

Full-time students of any age are exempt from paying council tax.

Student Loan repayments for mature students

mature student in library

Credit: wavebreakmedia – Shutterstock

As we touched on earlier, Student Loan repayments are pretty generous compared to the terms you'd get on a private loan of the same size.

Precisely what the conditions are will depend on where in the UK you're from – but, broadly speaking, the principles are the same.

For starters, you only ever repay 9% of your earnings over a given threshold (which varies across the UK). If your salary drops below this mark, you stop making repayments until your salary is above the threshold again.

After approximately 30 or 40 years (depending on what student loan plan you're on), no matter how much or how little you've repaid, the remaining balance on your loan is cancelled. We say "approximately" as the exact timeframe also differs across the UK.

But what if you're at an age that means that, after graduating as a mature student, you'll be living on a pension? Will you be burdened with repayments for 30 or 40 years?

Unfortunately, this is possible. If your pension income is above the threshold, you will need to keep making repayments until the debt is wiped (unless your income drops below the threshold, at which point repayments stop until you’re earning above it again).

However, for many, the income from a pension will be below the threshold. So, for many graduates, as soon as you retire, you'll stop making repayments.

For those of you thinking about buying a house, or already paying for one, we have more good news. Student Loan repayments have absolutely no impact on your credit score, and will only come into play when the lender calculates your affordability rating.

Of course, the system isn't perfect. In September 2023, things changed for new students in England, skewing things in favour of higher-earning graduates. Repayments will still be relatively affordable, but you'll be repaying more each month and over a longer period.

Read our guide to Student Loan repayments for info on all the systems across the UK.

Other funding for mature students

Whether you're eligible for a Maintenance Loan or not, it's always wise to maximise the funding you're receiving – especially when it comes in the form of grants, bursaries and scholarships, none of which need to be repaid.

Everyone's circumstances are different, and there's no guarantee that you'll be able to claim any extra cash at all. But there are a few funds that, as a mature student, you're perhaps more likely to be eligible for than your younger peers:

  • Parents' Learning Allowance (PLA) – You could claim up to £1,963 a year, depending on where you live in the UK.
  • Childcare Grants – The amount you could receive to help pay for the care of your child depends on where in the UK you live and how many children it will cover. However, it could be up to £193.62 a week for a single child or £331.95 a week for two or more children, or up to 85% of your costs paid.
  • Adult Dependants' Grant – If another adult is financially dependent on you, you could claim up to £3,438 a year.

There are plenty more details, as well as info on other prominent funds, in our guide to student grants.

And the extra cash doesn't end there. A number of universities offer grants specifically for mature students, often totalling thousands of pounds.

You may also find that you're eligible for other funds that aren't necessarily targeted at mature students but have no age limit.

Our guide to unusual bursaries and grants should inspire you to search for all manner of funding, and this list of funding sources will give you the tools to do it.

If your Maintenance Loan doesn't last until the end of term, here's what to do if you run out of money at 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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