Your child will typically pay up to £9,250 per year in tuition fees as a UK student, although for many courses it’s less.
- Fees don’t need to be paid upfront.
- Students can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan to cover all or part of their fees.
Because of the way the system works, taking out a loan, such as a bank loan, yourself to cover the cost of fees and avoid your child getting into debt will almost always work out more expensive in the long run, so it’s not advisable.
The second loan they can apply for is the Maintenance Loan, to help towards living expenses while at university, such as accommodation, food, and course materials.
The amount they’re eligible to borrow depends on several factors, including where they will be living during term time and your household income. You’ll need to declare this information to receive the maximum amount available.
For example, if they’ll be living away from home (outside of London), a Maintenance Loan of up to £9,978 per year could be available per year depending on your household income. If you’re earning more than the threshold, the loan amount your child is eligible for will be lower, meaning they or you will need to make up any financial shortfall.
Maintenance Grants are no longer available for new students, but there is extra support available in certain circumstances:
- Scholarships, grants, and bursaries – offered on the basis of academic ability, your income, or for other reasons (for example, if your child has a disability).
- Fee waivers – these reduce tuition fees, either on their own, or in a broader package of support with a bursary.
- Hardship funds – these can help if your child is struggling financially, either before or during uni.
- Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) – if your child has a disability, including a long-term health condition, mental health condition, or specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia they might be able to get funds to cover extra costs. Students can get up to £26,291 of support for 2023 to 2024. There are exceptions for students who need more money for travel costs. This will apply for both new and continuing students. How much they get depends on their individual needs, not your household income. DSA can be applied for alongside the main student finance application and doesn’t usually have to be paid back unless your child leaves their course early.
There’s no need for your child to wait to receive offers back from universities to apply for student finance – they can usually do this from February with the student funding body for where they currently live. To make sure they receive their loans on time, remind them to provide their supporting evidence as soon as possible.
Supporting your child’s application
If your child is applying for student finance that depends on your household income, you’ll need to give the Student Loans Company (SLC) some financial details, such as your National Insurance number and details of your household income.
To do this, you’ll need to create an account:
The SLC will confirm this information with HMRC and use it to work out how much student finance your child can get. In some cases, they might need to contact you to ask for specific evidence of your household income – but don’t send this unless you are asked to, as it could delay your child’s application. Don’t worry if this happens – it’s just part of their checks to make sure your child gets the funding they’re entitled to.
Depending on where you live in the UK, the fees, loans, repayment, and cost of living will be different. If your child lives in
- Scotland and goes to a Scottish university, they won’t pay tuition fees. Apply for Maintenance Loans via the Student Awards Agency Scotland.
- Wales and goes to a Welsh uni, they can get a Tuition Fee Loan to cover the fees charged. Apply to Student Finance Wales.
- Northern Ireland and studies in NI too, they can get a Tuition Fee Loan to cover the fees charged. Apply to Student Finance NI.
Importantly, this isn’t based on how much your child has borrowed, but instead on how much they go on to earn.
Currently, the earnings threshold is set at £27,295 a year, £2,274 a month and £524 a week for English and Welsh undergraduate students, £27,660 for Scottish, and £22,015 for Northern Irish students. This is the point at which they’ll begin to pay back 9% of what they’re earning over the threshold. Earning less than that? Then they won’t pay anything back.
While the loans do accrue interest, any outstanding debt still owed after 40 years is written off, meaning it’s not always worth helping your child pay back their loan early.