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Student Finance

The Big Fat Guide to Student Finance 2019

Student Finance got your head in a spin? Let us put you straight! We'll show you where the money is, how much you can get and - crucially - how to get your hands on it.

Student finance guide

Getting to grips with Student Finance might sound as appealing as Katie Hopkins on a crisis hotline, but it boils down to this: going to university is pricey. Thankfully, there's lots of cash out there to help you.

However, not only is some of that cash really well hidden, the rules about who gets what keep changing. Even keeping track of fee rises, is enough to make you cross-eyed. That's where we come in.

Why bother reading this guide?

student_protest_dublin_budget31Save the Student has been following the student loan changes for years, petitioned against higher fees, created the first ever student loan repayment calculator for the new fees and commented in countless newspapers from the very beginning of the recent shake-ups.

By no means do we support charging tuition fees but we believe it is vital that the myths are debunked and that students are aware of the facts.

Are student loans as bad as many make out? What do they mean and how might they affect you? Is it even worth going to university anymore?

Checking out the info on this page will mean you'll be less confused about undergraduate uni costs, more confident about getting the funds you need, and have a better idea how much the whole thing's going to set you back. Read on.

If you're from outside of England, also see our guides for Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, EU countries or international students. And if you're not a full-time student, use our guide to part-time Student Finance.

Student Finance in a nutshell

student finance in a nutshellStudent Finance is never a simple topic to cover (well, except when uni was free!). On this page we’ll touch only on the most important things students need to know. But if you’re struggling to find the will to digest it all right now, here's a quick summary:

  1. The maximum universities can charge for tuition fees in 2018/19 is £9,250 a year
  2. Full-time students starting in 2018 can apply for a maximum Maintenance Loan of £8,700 depending on household income (those in London can apply for more)
  3. The Maintenance Loan is not enough to live on for most students so you could need extra income (from a part-time job or parents, for instance) or to learn to live on less
  4. The average university graduate will leave uni with a student debt of around £50,000
  5. You don't start repaying until the April after graduation and once you start earning over £25,000 per year. Repayments are 9% of anything you earn above this
  6. After 30 years any outstanding student debt is written off
  7. Interest is charged at RPI +3% per year whilst you are at university, which continues at RPI plus 0-3% per year thereafter (depending on your salary)
  8. Your student loan repayments are automatically deducted from your pay cheque without you having to do anything
  9. Maintenance Grants are still available for current students that started uni before 2016 (as they receive a smaller loan)
  10. Other grants and funding are available for new starters in 2018 for those with disabilities or dependants, or those from low-income backgrounds
  11. There are differences between the Student Finance systems in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  12. While the cost of university education has tripled, students should be aware that what it costs and what you pay are likely to be very different

Keep reading to get a clearer understanding of what the charges - and the Student Finance on offer - mean for you.

It's likely your parents are going to have lots of questions about Student Finance too - which is why we created our parents' guide to university just for them.

How much does university cost?

Tuition fees

cost of tuition fees

UK universities can charge a maximum of £9,250 a year for tuition fees in 2018/19. If that sounds like a lot, it is - especially when you consider that in 2011, the most they could charge was £3,375 (jump back a few more years, and tuition was free...). However, unless you've got a time machine, £9k+ is where we're at.

That said, there's a bit of variation. Each country in the UK sets its own maximum fee for tuition, and not all universities charge the full Monty (though most do). International and postgraduate students, and those attending private institutions, will also pay different fees.

Have all fees gone up to £9,250?

Almost! The vast majority of UK universities now charge £9,250 a year for degree courses. But not all, so make sure you check the website of any uni you're interested in for more info.

There is some good news though. The government has recently chosen to freeze the maximum tuition fees at £9,250 a year (aren't they so kind...) rather than go ahead with plans that were likely to see them increase by £250 a year from now until, well, infinity.

Having said that, this government is known for its U-turns so stay tuned to our updates and keep an eye on this page!

Differences across the UK

Here's the maximum that public universities can charge in undergrad tuition fees, depending on where you live when you apply:

Students fromStudying in EnglandStudying in ScotlandStudying in WalesStudying in N Ireland
Northern Ireland£9,250£9,250£9,000£4,160
EU countries£9,250Free£9,000*£4,160

*In Wales, for those who started uni before 2018/19, there are fee grants of £4,800 available to Welsh/EU students and the rest of the tuition fee is covered by a student loan

If you're looking at studying a year abroad your fees can be different too. We've got the lowdown on that here.

What do tuition fees pay for?

Well your tuition (teaching), essentially. They also contribute to uni facilities and provisions. Some of it goes towards financial support for students struggling to get by, or from low-income families.

At the end of the day, you're paying for it: find out where it goes, how it's spent, what it doesn't include and, crucially, what returns you'll get on it - whether that's a better-stocked library or a better chance of getting a job when you graduate.

library tuition fee contribution

Should you shop around for lower tuition fees?

Most universities charge what all the others in their country charge so, unfortunately, it's not like you can ditch Waitrose for Lidl! Living costs such as rent, food and transport - the things you have to pay for up-front - may be a better way to judge what's affordable for you (see average student living costs).

Where fees matter more is if you opt to pay more than you could, such as if you get free tuition or grants in your home country that you'd lose by studying somewhere else.

Smaller colleges are also an option. Some offer the same degrees for less than their big-name rivals. Staying local (living at home and studying in your local area) can also net you substantial savings on living costs. Don't forget that UK students can study at some universities in Europe, as well as in the Republic of Ireland, for free: check our guide to studying abroad for the big picture.

The big tot-up is how you stand with the idea of graduating in debt, and whether you'd rather pay more up front, or push back as many costs as you can. Take a look at our Loans lowdown before you decide.

The bottom line is that, fees or not, getting a degree is pricey. Studying at a uni (or location) you have no love or respect for just because it's cheaper will still be a cash burner. Don't forget about where your passions lie, the uni's teaching credentials/facilities, and how both can help you get your cash back through a decent graduate salary later on!

How much would uni cost you per hour? Find out with our calculator!

Course costs

At up to £9,250 a pop, you'd think tuition fees would see you fully paid up. They don't. You'll have to confirm extra course costs for yourself, but generally you're looking at things like books, stationery, lab kit or art materials, field trips, printing, photocopying and presentation.

Once you've costed that lot up, you'll need to allow for them in your budget to make sure you've got enough cash to get by.

Living costs

living costs at university

Credit: Nickelodeon

This is what no one tells you before you go: living costs are the biggest drain on student pockets. While tuition costs can be pretty much forgotten about until you graduate, you'll still have immediate costs to bankroll - accommodation, bills, transport, socialising, laundry and, if you're into that kind of thing, food.

Now, there's no need to panic. Some of those can be covered by the Maintenance Loan or any bursaries and grants you're entitled to. Chances are, though, you'll also need a bit of back-up from savings, your folks, a part-time job or some smart money-making ideas.

As with course extras, get an idea of all your costs and stick them in a budget planner so you know how much you need to get by before you land on campus.

How to pay for university

how to pay for university

The Tuition Fee Loan

Most first-time undergraduates on an approved course are likely to be eligible for Student Finance in some flavour.

The Tuition Loan, which covers your fees, is the big one. The money's paid directly to the university, and you don't have to repay it until you leave your course and are earning enough (more about that below).

Your first port of call - for this, the Maintenance Loan or any grants going - should be your country's Student Finance body:

You can get a maximum of £9,250 per year towards your tuition depending on the cost of your course. Most prospective students should be fine, but it's worth checking the eligibility criteria for taking out the loan.

Those on part-time courses can also apply for Tuition Fee Loans.

The Maintenance Loan

the maintenance loan

Credit: 20th Century Fox

The sole purpose of this loan is to cover your day-to-day living costs. Unlike the Tuition Fee Loan, it's paid directly to you.

You don't have to take out a Maintenance Loan, but if you don't have a mountain of cash to fall back on, it's an option. Everyone eligible to apply can get some of the loan, but getting the full packet is 'income contingent': the less household income you have, the more you can apply for (up to a maximum).

Here's how much full-time students can apply for in England:

Where you live & studyMax. Maintenance Loan 2016-2018 startersMax. Maintenance Loan 2012-2015 Starters
Live at home£7,324£4,960
Live away from home£8,700£6,236
Live away from home (London)£11,354£8,702
Live away from home (abroad)£9,963£7,410

Don't forget that these are just the maximum amounts you could apply for. What you actually get will vary: the numbers are different for those from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the EU, with household income ultimately dictating what you're entitled to ask for.

As a rough guide, in England you'll need a household income of £25,000 or less to get the maximum Maintenance Loan. Above £25k, money's awarded on a sliding scale.

The table below is an indication of the maximum Maintenance Loan you can receive if you're starting uni this year.

Household IncomeLiving at homeAway from home (outside London)Away from home (London)

If your parents earn above £25,000/year they are expected to help you out (more on that below).

Top tip: Your Maintenance Loan is doled out in three instalments throughout the year (at the start of each term), so it's up to you to make it last. Don't be tempted to bust it all in freshers' week, or it could be a long term of eating cut-price noodles!

You might also find maintenance money doesn't arrive before you get to uni - you'll need to register at the uni first, which is one of the top things to do when you get to uni. In the meantime, make sure you've got some other cash to hand to keep you going for the first few days.

Untaxed income, such as ISA interest and some benefits, don't have to be declared when applying for Student Finance. Including them unnecessarily could mean you get less funding. See our top tax facts for info, and pass it on!

What extra funding is available?

Maintenance Grants

In England, students that started uni in 2016 and after can no longer get a Maintenance or Special Support Grant. This has been a bit of a bombshell. Some students worry this means they can't afford to go to (or stay at) uni - but what's the story?

Grants are Student Finance that you don't repay. The Government has stopped this free cash, and now expects new starters to take on bigger loans to, essentially, pay their own way. The total amount of maintenance money on offer hasn't changed much. However, you're likely to leave uni with more to pay back.

That doesn't have to mean uni is any less affordable. As with the Tuition Loan, you'll only start repaying when you earn enough: get the Loans lowdown to see where you stand. And remember:

  • The change only affects students funded under the English system
  • It only affects new starters from 2016 - if you already get a Grant, it won't be taken away (see below)
  • If you want to go to university, there'll still be funding to help you get there.

In the rest of the UK, it's business as usual: there are still Maintenance Grants and Bursaries up for grabs. Check our regional guides for what's going in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If you started before 2016 and are currently at uni the table below shows the grants you are eligible to receive:

Household IncomeMaintenance LoanMaintenance GrantFull Amount
< £25,000£4,302£3,482£7,784
< £42,641£6,018£50£6,068

Money from parents

asking parents for money

Credit: Dreamworks

As things stand, some Student Finance pay-outs (specifically the Maintenance Loan) take your household income (how much you or your parents earn) into account.

If there's a shortfall between how much the government contributes, and how much you really need to live on, you're expected to cough up for some of the difference yourself. More specifically, your parents, guardians or partner are expected to chip in.

In reality, that's not going to work for everyone. But whether the money's on the table or not, it's worth thinking about your options and asking your parents for money:

  • Can your folks contribute any cash? Will it be a loan or a freebie? Do they have any conditions regarding how you spend it?
  • If they can't help you financially, how else could they support you? Don't underestimate the power of leftovers.

Feel free to show them our parents' guide to university if you're struggling to convince them.

The next step will be working out how much money your parents need to give you while you're at university. Luckily for you, we've put together a handy parental contributions calculator which does just that!

Parent contribution calculator

If cash handouts are a no-go, now's the time to think about how else you're going to keep your budget in the black!

Awards and scholarships

These are the overlooked cash pots of student finance!

Some depend on academic achievement, but there are plenty of weird scholarships and bursaries - everything from studying an unusual subject to being sporty, or even where you were born. Some pay off tuition fees (reducing your overall debt), while others give cash grants or equipment, or a choice. We've got a list of sources to search for hidden cash right here.

Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA)

The DSA provides extra funding if you have a disability that affects your studies (including long-term physical conditions, mental health, and unseen or learning difficulties).

You'll need to provide evidence to be eligible but, if you are, there's cash to pay for specialist equipment, a non-medical helper, and other costs.

The allowance is on top of any Student Finance you get, isn't affected by household income, and doesn't have to be paid back. Accepting other disability related grants or support can affect whether you get DSA, so talk it over with your uni or school's adviser first, or head over to your Student Finance body.

Other student grants

University grants

Credit: BBC

Don't overlook other grants going, including for course travel costs, in-demand subjects (like teaching), and the NHS bursary. Details are in our student grants, bursaries and scholarships guide.

Hardship funds

Universities charging the full enchilada in tuition fees have to keep some of the cash aside to help those struggling financially. Some of the money may be ring-fenced for particular circumstances, such as students from low-income backgrounds or with disabilities or dependants.

Whatever the score, if a lack of cash is stopping you from studying, talk to the uni's welfare team or student money adviser about any emergency grants or loans going. Heads-up: you'll need to take copies of your Student Finance letters and your budget.

Other sources

student grant calculator

The turn2us grants calculator can help you find charity funds based on a whole heap of criteria - everything from your religion, nationality or gender to health conditions, personal issues and family situation. Our guide to weird university grants, bursaries and scholarships is worth a read if you're not convinced that you'll be eligible for any funding.

While banks aren't the first place to turn if you're looking for a cuddle, learning how to use your student bank account properly - like when to use benefits like an interest-free overdraft - can help you get your hands on extra cash when you need it.

Your own cash

There's no denying that anything you can chuck in the pot can only help you out.

That could be squirreling away a few quid every time you come into cash, or finding ways to make money. Give it a whirl!

The lowdown on Student Loan Repayments

How is the Student Loan repaid?

student loan repayments

9% of anything you earn over £25,000 per year

You'll only start repaying your Student Loan from the April after you've graduated (unless you dropout) and when you are earning more than the repayment threshold (£25,000 in England or Wales, £18,330 a year in Northern Ireland and Scotland).

Note: For those that started uni before 2012 you will start repaying when you earn over £18,330/year.

You'll pay 9% of anything you earn above that amount. If you don't earn more than the threshold, you won't pay anything.

Here's what your monthly repayments could look like (remember these are just guide figures!):

Yearly salaryPlan 2 monthly repayments

The repayments will be automatically docked from your wages before you get paid and, because repayments track your weekly or monthly income, if your salary goes down (or stops), you won't pay until you're back over the threshold.

Unless you're self-employed, it all happens magically without you needing to do anything or remember to make payments.

The Student Loans Company have started taking some repayments early. If they've taken any money from your wages before the April after your graduation you will be eligible for a student loan refund.

After 30 years, any remaining loan is wiped

(It's 25 years in Northern Ireland, and 35 years in Scotland). So, if you don't go into a big bucks career, you may not earn enough to pay back the full Loan.

Note: For those who started uni before 2012, your debt is wiped 25 years after graduating.

On the other hand, the more you earn, the more you'll pay back. It's worth bearing this in mind as by the time your salary pumps up to decent levels, you might want to do other things with it (such as pay for a mortgage or buy a new car)!

If you want to find out how fast you're likely to hit the salary threshold, check the average starting salary for your degree. To get an idea of whether you'll pay off the whole Loan (or how long it could take you), plug that number into our Student Loan repayment calculator.

Student Loan small print you really need to know

student loan small print

You pay tax on your initial salary

What's that? Double whammy, you say? Unfortunately, Student Loan repayments don't entitle you to any tax breaks. That means you'll pay income tax on your salary before the loan repayment comes off.

For example, if you earn £45,000 a year, any income tax you owe will be collected in the normal way. When your loan repayment is calculated, though, it's still worked out from that starting £45k figure. You won't pay less income tax, even though you've had to 'lose' a bit of your salary towards loan repayments.

Income doesn't just mean salary

Whether you're paying tax or paying back the Student Loan, 'income' includes any taxable money you get. That includes interest from some savings accounts over £2,000, and certain job perks or State benefits. These are worth keeping an eye on as they could unexpectedly tip you over the repayment threshold.

WARNING: The terms aren't set in stone

Shockingly, there's nothing in the loan agreement guaranteeing that salary thresholds or the 9% figure will be honoured.

In fact, the government did freeze the £21,000 salary threshold for several years despite initially saying it would go up each year. However, after a lot of campaigning from Save the Student and others, they decided to revert to the original agreement and increase the threshold each year (starting at £25,000 in 2018/19).

There is a worry that this ability to play around with the terms means that they're likely to do the same in future (for either good or bad).

Interest is the sting in the tail

Just like any kind of loan, the Student Loan whacks interest onto everything you borrow. Interest rates are updated every year in September, but right now:

For students in Scotland and NI, interest is 1.75%.

In England and Wales, interest is the rate of inflation (currently 3.3%) plus up to another 3% each year. That means you'll be charged 3.3%-6.3%. Here's how it works:

  • While at university: You will pay the rate of inflation (RPI) plus another 3%. This will be the same until April in the year following your graduation. This means that even before graduating, students will have racked up a hefty amount of interest on top of their fees
  • After graduating: If you earn under £25,000 then your interest rate will be set at inflation (RPI), as with the old system. For every additional £1k you will be charged an extra 0.15% per year on your loan. Once you earn above £45,000, you will incur the additional 3% annual interest rate
  • (A big) however: Despite all of this, graduates will actually make annual repayments of around £600 less compared to the old system. The catch is that the total debt will be much higher and therefore you will be paying off your student loan for a longer period.

Note: Students in England who started uni before 2012 will pay interest at RPI (currently 3.3%) OR the bank of England base rate plus 1% (currently 1.75%), depending on which one is lower.

Added interest means you'll owe more than you actually borrowed, and could be making repayments for longer. Head over to the Student Loans Company to sniff out the numbers for yourself.

It doesn't affect your credit rating

Your student debt doesn't go on your credit files so it won't affect your ability to borrow in future.

However, it could have a very small effect on mortgage applications. This is simply to do with the fact that a Student Loan will mean you have less take home pay each month. Therefore, it's not the debt but more the repayments that can have an impact (although minimal).

Finally, there's no debt collectors or angry people chasing your money with student loans. If your salary ever dips below the minimum repayment threshold you'll just stop paying altogether.

Moving abroad doesn't save you

There is a strong rumour spread among students that if you move abroad for a certain amount of years then your student debt is written off. We're afraid this is not the case and you still have to pay back anything you earn over a threshold.

Our guide to repaying your student loan from abroad has more details.

Head over to over guide to Student Loan repayments for the full lowdown on how it all works.

Should you pay back your Student Loan early?

when should you start repaying your student loan

Credit: 20th Century Fox

You can choose to clear your student debt or make higher repayments at any time - the question is, should you?

While you might be tempted to pay off your Student Loan in full as soon as possible, remember that the rates and terms are better than with commercial loans.

It's also worth thinking about how likely you are to pay off your entire loan based on your predicted earnings (and remember that anything you haven't cleared after 30-ish years is wiped off). Clearing the Loan early could mean paying when you don't have to, so use our Student Loan repayment calculator to see how likely it is that you'll repay.

Plus, once you've handed the money over, you can't get it back if you need it for anything else.

Think it over before you part with your cash, and only pay-up when you can really afford to.

So, should you get a Student Loan?

thinking about a student loan

Credit: 20th Century Fox

While it's good to be cautious about borrowing in general, the Student Loan is a slightly different kettle of fish.

Firstly, it's not like a commercial loan. Yes, it's borrowing, but on more affordable terms than you'll get anywhere else. More importantly, paying it back depends on earning enough later on: in that sense, it works more like a tax than a loan.

If you don't earn enough, you won't make repayments - which is pretty much how income tax works. For that reason, it makes sense to get a Student Loan if you're eligible, rather than paying up-front (or paying back the loan early!).

Most students won't be able to afford university without the Loan, but what you get for your 'debt' - a degree - is a high value purchase. It can help you earn more throughout your career than non-graduates.

The best advice for the current system is to not get sidetracked by the total figure you'll end up owing. While that's an important number, keeping an eye on things like your graduate salary and monthly repayments (and how likely you are to repay) can give you the bigger picture of whether the loan's right for you.

5 tips for slashing student debt

cut student loan debt

Credit: HBO

  1. ALWAYS check what other funding you could grab

    Every year, hundreds of students miss out on free money because they don't know the extra cash is there. Whether you meet the low-income criteria or not, there could be funding out there with your name on it, from scholarships and emergency cash to company sponsorship.

    If you don't ask, you won't get. And if you don't search, you won't find: here's where to look first.

  2. Get a part-time job

    With three-quarters of students upping their income with a job, employment is an obvious go-to for keeping debt in check. Check your uni's rules on part-time work and, most importantly, make sure any gigs you go for fit around your studies.

    Take at look at our student job section for advice on getting an in, or peruse our part-time jobs board to see what's going in your area.

  3. Make your own money!

    No jobs in your neighbourhood? No problemo! There are scores of ways to make legit lolly, from freelancing to starting a bona fide student business. Need ideas? We've got 40 quick cash injections right here.

  4. Don't lose out on tax

    If you don't earn more than the 'personal allowance' each year, you won't have to pay tax on your income, whether from wages or interest you get from the bank. Don't pay if you don't have to or, if like many students, you've been over-charged, get it back!

    The other biggie is that knowing what counts as taxable income - and what doesn't - can help you get the Student Finance you're entitled to. It could even make a difference to how much and when you start coughing up towards your Student Loan.

    Either way, it pays to get to grips with tax: read our top student tax tips to get it done in a jiffy.

  5. Keep things in balance

    Any money coming in - whether it's loaned or earned - is just one side of the story if you're barrelling through it faster than your data allowance in a WiFi blackspot. Learn how to make it last, and you'll be on to a winner!

Hopefully this guide has given you a clearer idea of what Student Finance means for you, based on facts rather than hype. We've also shown you options beyond Loans and grants, and pointed the way to cash that can help you get to - and stay at - university. Make the most of what's out there!

Got questions? Ask away below: we promise to give every student a response, or point you in the direction of more info.


Megan Bogg

Hi, I've applied for my student finance, and have been awarded £4054, But my mum is on less than 25k a year. I rang them up and they said its because they haven't processed the decree absolute that I sent for proof of my mums divorce... I have to wait until the 1st June to find out if they're going to reassess it, but i'm really, really worried. They've updated the system and said that i'm awarded with £4054 and have sent a letter confirming that amount, is this likely to be changed?

Tom Grindrod

Same boat here

Mike Courtney

What happens if the parents income dramatically falls during the year (ie through unemployment). Is there a way that the maintenance loan can be reassessed and increased?

Jake Butler

Yes there is a way. You can apply for a change of circumstances. Please contact student finance about this.


Thank you for this article/post, really helpful.

Courtney Hepple

I am over 25 and looking to apply for a maintenance loan. Am I right in thinking SFE won’t need to ask my parents their household income, NI, financial information or check with HM Recenue and customs? It just goes off my own income?

Jake Butler

Hi Courtney, I believe that is correct.


Hi, why do SFE need my wife’s income? Will she have to pay if I don’t? Such as if I died / divorce or was in employment less than £25k (sorry it’s a miserable question!)


Am I right in thinking that both the student loan AND the maintenance loan are both written off after 39 yrs?

Jake Butler

Hi Neil, the loans are combined into a lump sum in regards to your repayment. This means both are written off after 30 years (not 39).


Thanks Jake. I'm just about to start my second year and I didn't apply for maintenance in my first year as I thought I would have to pay it back no matter what. I might as well take it then as it to reality I may never pay it back if I don't earn enough to clear it all at 30yr. Many thanks


Hi there, I'm going to be studying business in the UK then moving over to the US to complete a masters degree part time while working over there. Graduate roles in the area I want to work in start at around $50 000 a year, which is around £35 000. How would the repayments work for this? I understand I have to pay 9% of £14,000 which would be around £130 a month but how would I do this? Would I have to create a standing order of some sort to pay money towards the loan? Would I have to pay international transfer fees and change the amount I pay every month in line with exchange rates or would there be a system to do this automatically?

Jake Butler

Hi Kai, you can contact the student loans company as they should have the repayment thresholds for each separate country.

Great Glen

the table for household income and maintenance loan are incorrect, I have received much less loan in relation to the household income

Jake Butler

Hi Glen, there's a few things here.

The table is based on a student living away from home and out of London.

The table was also recently updated and is based on the stats for the 2018/19 term.

Both of these things will likely be why you received less.


Hello. I am planning to study this year. I have an EU citizenship and been living in the UK for almost 4 years. Am I eligible for the maintenance loan?

Jake Butler

Hi Dan, unfortunately the government website says you must have been living in the UK for at least 5 years before you begin your studies in order to be eligible for a maintenance loan as an EU national in the UK.


Hello. Does that have to be 5 consecutive years? I've also lived in the UK when I was a kid.

Jake Butler

It has to be consecutive as far as I'm aware.


HI there, great post. I'm looking to start Full-Time this year. I have been living in the UK for over 5 years now. I became EU citizen around 6 , which means my parents are not EU citizen and still live in Argentina. I fully support myself and don't get any money from them but in any case how would I work out proving their income from over there or would I have to do it to start with? I live in London and my yearly income goes well under £25.000.

Jake Butler

Hi Lucas, I believe that under these circumstances you'd likely apply as an independent. I would double check with student finance though.



My query is: I have been studying with sponsorship from my work. Until now I have had no need of a loan for either the tuition fees (work sponsored) or the maintenance loan (part time study and two good incomes). However, I separated from my husband last year. I will be taking the final year of my MSc from Sept 2018 - can I apply for a maintenance loan for the final year (essentially the dissertation). Everything I have read makes reference to payments in years 1 & 2 only? Thanks for any help/advice you can offer.

Jake Butler

Hi, you'll likely need to check our postgrad loan guide for info.

Unfortunately I don't think you'll be eligible as you've already started your MSc.


Thanks for the link Jake - I'll check this out. I agree that it make not be possible, but would kick myself if it was an option and I hadn't bothered finding out. Thanks again.

R Mac

My nephew has ditched uni but is still receiving his maintenance loan and spending it, surely this is fraud? He doesn’t seem to care. Please advise. I’m sure this is going to catch up with him

Jake Butler

Your nephew needs to be very careful as student finance can ask for a refund on the money.

Andrew Turner

Hi i have twins planning to go to uni this september. Whilst, i am fortunate with having a high income, unfortunately with property losses (no house) and 2 other kids, having to top up the maintenance grant for two kids at the same time is going to be really tough-- 1 is ok- are there any mechanisms to take this into account on their maintenance assessment ? thanks

Jake Butler

Hi Andrew, you've exposed a severe issue with the student finance system. If you have more than one child the adjustment for the household income is only £1130 a year.

This means they take that much off your household income to account for you having more than one child at uni. It's not enough though. The system is broken but unfortunately there's little you can do about it I'm afraid.

Andrew Turner

Thanks for advising . I agree , the adjustment seems to be totally ineffective , unfortunately the consequence meaning the pot of funds will have to be split between two, so they will have significantly reduced funding.

karen yates

I am a mum . When we apply for a maintenance loan, can we borrow les than what they offer as I want to contribute myself to avoid a debt st the end. Thanks

Jake Butler

Hi Karen, I believe this is possible but you will have to talk to student finance. I would like to offer my advice here and would generally recommend that you don't do this. Remember that your son/daughter may never pay back their full loan (unless they're a high earning graduate). This means that you may end up foregoing money that may never have to be paid back anyway. You'd be better to save that money you were looking to contribute and use it to help out in future (eg with a deposit for a house).

Please look into this a little more before making the decision and remember that student loan debt is like no other.

Noona fan

Hi, due to my circumstances, I need to apply by a paper application. As of right now, I've decided not to apply for maintenance loan however, what if I decided to apply for maintenance loan once I've sent off my application?

Jake Butler

Hi Noona, I'm not sure on this one. I suppose you would have to contact student finance to ask what would happen in that instance. Thanks.

Ms S

Hi, I have one child at uni going in to her final year and another starting this year. I'm divorced and up till now my household income has been assessed on my income alone which has been vaguely manageable and I have topped up my child's living expenses which has not been easy. I have since remarried (just last year) but I don't live with my spouse and he doesn't and has never contributed to the household income at all nor should he. We are independent. He doesn't contribute to the children either obviously. But I have been told I have to include his finances even though we live in different parts of the UK. I am concerned this will impact on their potential for a maintenance loan if they look at both our incomes do thy have a legal right to request this?

Jake Butler

Hi, as far as I know you may have to talk to them and ask for mitigating circumstances. They sometimes allow students to prove that they are independent of their parents in a similar way. I believe you'd have to prove without doubt that there is no money passed between you and your spouse.

Having said that I feel you may be on the wrong side of the rulings here. Eg. similar to how a non married couple living together don't get to take advantage of tax breaks etc it may be that a married couple are seen as a joint income in the eyes of student finance whether living together or not I'm afraid.

Bryan Sandford

On my application for student finance it asks if you're living at home or living away from home. What do you put if you spend say 36 weeks at uni then 16 weeks at home?

Jake Butler

Hi Bryan. That would be classed as living away from home as you're not living at home while you're studying.


Hi My daughter is starting uni in September 2018. According to the caculator she will be entitled to a maintenance grant of £4193. Her accommodation will be £5000 per year. Does this mean that as her parents we have to pay the shortfall in accommodation plus all her living costs?

Jake Butler

Hi Sarah, thanks for getting in touch. The maintenance grant is no longer offered so I'm assuming it's a maintenance loan.

It's quite common for the maintenance loan amount to barely even cover rent and our studies have shown that almost 75% of students need to get a part time job or rely on parents financially throughout university.

Please be aware that students in 2018 will get slightly more than stated on this page (as we still have the stats for 2017) although it won't be by that much.

As your daughter it not getting the max loan it's obviously because of your household income. Interestingly (even though they don't say it) the government "expects" parents to make up the shortfall.

We've actually made a simple student loan calculator (you can use the 2017 stats) which tells you how much you can expect to contribute (obviously it's optional though).

I hope this info helps. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Marcella Taylor-Smith

hi my son is, starting university 2018 sept, he has around 8000.00 savings will this affect his entitlement for maintenance grant etc

Jake Butler

Hi Marcella, the only time savings are taken into account is when the interest is counted as earnings. Given that this will be so low it's unlikely to have any affect. It's worth noting that the maintenance grant no longer exists for new students either.


Hello! I am a first year going into second year in 2018. I used my mother and stepfather as my sponsors for my maintenance loan, so I can get the max. amount but a recent promotion means that they will just go over the 25,000. Is it possible to switch my sponsor to my real father when reapplying for the loan so I can still get the max. amount?

Jake Butler

Hi Kayleigh, this could be a risky tactic as you'll likely be asked by student finance to justify the change.

Miss E

I am leaving my course but have already received my maintenance loan for this term. will student loan company ask for this back?

Jake Butler

Hi Miss E. If you drop out you will have to repay the loan at the same terms as other grads (eg when you earn over a certain amount after leaving your course). However, the uni and student finance also have the right to ask for any money back that was overpaid to you. It's likely that the funding for this term would fall under that so they will most likely ask for it back. Hope that helps.

Mrs s

My daughter has a placement year in America as part of her degree, does she get any help with funding from student finance - please can someone help me

Jake Butler

Hi, this can depend on the university and the course. I would suggest talking to the university about this.

Michael Sallows

My son has started at uni and between myself and his Mum combined with savings we are attempting to support him to avoid him having to use his maintenance loan; he will also find a part time job to chip in. He is under some per pressure from his student friends who are fully utilising their maintenance loans as they are saying it'll be like paying a little extra tax later in life plus it's possible it'll not need to fully be repaid. My view is anything we can do to minimise his ultimate final debt limiting this to just his tuition fees surely should be of use - a £30k final debt must be better than £55k? There is no firm legislation that protects the 9% payback so this could increase in later year s. I'd really appreciate hearing your views- many thanks.

Jake Butler

Hi Michael, thanks for getting in touch. Obviously it would be nice to have a crystal ball in cases. The matter of fact is that you might be potentially turning down money that your son will never end up paying back anyway. In this case it would be better to use the savings later in life when he is looking for a deposit on a property etc.

My suggestion would be to have a little play with our student loan repayment calculator.

You can see the difference if you change the maintenance loan to 0 and compare it to what he would get. You can also change the expected graduate earnings for your son. Depending on his degree and location, most students tend to start on a salary in the low 20s.

In many cases you will notice that he is likely to repay exactly the same amount over back with or without the maintenance loan. It's only if your son was to go on to be a very high earner that your tactic would benefit him in terms of repayments.

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