While at university or college, your child or partner will have two main costs – tuition fees and living costs. They can apply for student finance to help with both.
All eligible students can get a:
- Tuition Fee Loan to cover the full cost of the fees charged by their university or college
- basic rate of Maintenance Loan to help with living costs, such as rent and bills
The basic rate of Maintenance Loan doesn’t depend on your household income, but they can apply for more that does. Any loans they borrow have to be paid back, but not until they’ve finished or left their course, and their income is over the repayment threshold.
There are also grants available for students who have a disability, including a long-term health condition, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty, or students who have children or adult dependants. These don’t usually have to be paid back.
A student’s university or college may also offer bursaries, scholarships, or other kinds of financial help – it’s always worth checking with them too.
How does household income affect student finance?
You might need to give Student Finance England information about your income if your child or partner has applied for student finance that’s based on your household income.
You’ll be asked for financial details for the tax year previous to the start of the academic year. For example, if the student is applying for the 2018/19 academic year, the tax year will be 2016/17. Student Finance England will ask for details of the previous tax year because this is the most recent full tax year.
Your information will be used to work out if your child or partner can get extra Maintenance Loan on top of the Tuition Fee Loan and basic Maintenance Loan.
If your income in the current tax year is likely to be at least 15% lower than the previous tax year, Student Finance England can assess your household income on what you estimate your income will be.
If you’re supporting your child’s application, your household income is the combined income of:
- your child
- your partner – if you live with them now (even if you weren’t living with them during the previous tax year)
If you’re separated or divorced, Student Finance England will use the household income of the parent the student is financially dependent on, which is usually the parent the student lives with.
If you’re supporting your partner’s application, your household income is the combined income of you and your partner (even if you weren’t living with them during the previous tax year).
Household income doesn’t include any income the student might have from full or part-time work.
How to support a student's application
You’ll need to create an account if you haven’t got already got one. You must use your own account – you can’t use the same account as your child or partner. When you register, you’ll need to supply your National Insurance number and your personal income for the previous tax year. You should only give Student Finance England your details – if you live with a partner, they’ll ask for their details separately.
If you've gave Student Finance England your household income details close to your child or partner's course starting, take a look at the process on what happens next.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will check that the information you’ve submitted matches their records. Student Finance England might ask you to send evidence if the details don’t match.
You can submit an estimate of your financial details for the current tax year if you think your household income will be at least 15% lower than the previous tax year. To do this, you need to fill in a Current Year Income Assessment form, which will be available to download from www.gov.uk/studentfinance.
Supporting a continuing student
Your child or partner needs to apply for student finance each year. When they apply, you’ll get an email within 24 hours. The email will have a link to sign in to your account, where you must submit:
- your marital status
- any changes to the information you submitted the previous year
- your financial information for the previous tax year
- your income – if the details you’ve submitted don’t match HMRC’s records
- your marital status – if you’re separated or divorced
Don’t worry if this happens – it’s just part of their checks to make sure your child or partner gets the funding they’re entitled to.
You should send Student Finance England photocopies of any financial documents they ask for – they’ll destroy these securely once they’ve checked them.
It takes at least six weeks to process applications, so it’s important you send any evidence Student Finance England needs as soon as possible, so your child or partner gets any extra money in time for the start of their course.