Funding your studies – what’s available?
Higher education is a major investment in your future. Once you’ve decided what and where to study, you’ll need to consider how to fund your studies. Be aware that there are different options depending on where you live, where you plan to study, and at which level, so check the details carefully before you make your application.
Applications for student finance open at different times depending on the organisation you need to apply to (Student Finance England (SFE), Student Awards Agency For Scotland (SAAS), etc). It’s best to apply as early as possible to ensure that your finances are in order for the start of term.
Undergraduate finance and funding
Maintenance loans and grants
Maintenance loans and grants help with living costs, such as food, accommodation, and travel. The amount you can receive is dependent on factors such as where and what you'll study, whether you are planning to study full-time or part-time, and your household income.
Tuition fee loans
Tuition fee loans cover the cost of your undergraduate course fees, and are paid directly to the university or college.
There is no age limit on eligibility for tuition fee loans, so anyone can apply, providing that they’re going to be studying for their first undergraduate degree.
Universities and colleges can charge up to £9,250 a year for undergraduate tuition fees to full-time UK and EU students. This amount is set by the governments in each country, and can vary depending on whether you study in or outside your home country.
Check the tuition fee costs for your course and university on the UCAS search tool.
Depending on where you live, there are different options available, and you will need to apply to different organisations. Each will have different deadlines, so read the following information carefully:
Students from England can apply for a tuition fee loan wherever they choose to study in the UK.
A means-tested maintenance loan is available to all students who are eligible for student finace.
For students who live in Northern Ireland and choose to study at a Nortern Irish course provider, the maximum tuition fee is capped. If you choose to study elsewhere in the UK, the costs will be higher. You can apply for a tuition fee loan to cover the yearly course costs wherever in the UK you choose to study.
Students can apply for a maintenance grant, and eligible students can also receive a maintenance grant or Special Support Grant.
Students from Scotland and the EU (excluding England, Wales, or Northern Ireland) can study for free in Scotland – the Scottish government pays the yearly course fee on behalf of the student.
Scottish students who wish to study elsewhere in the UK will be charged the standard tuition fees for their chosen course provider, but may apply for a tuition fee loan.
Students may apply for a means-tested maintenance loan wherever in the UK they choose to study.
Be aware that most Scottish undergraduate degrees take four years to complete, as opposed to three years in the rest of the UK, so this can impact the size of your student loan. For more information, refer to the SAAS guidelines.
Students from Wales can apply for a tuition fee loan to cover the cost of an undergraduate degree anywhere in the UK.
Eligible students can receive money towards the cost of accomodation and living costs, and some may also be able to apply for an additional means-tested maintenance grant. Maintenance loans are available to all students.
EU and international students
Your eligibility for student finance will depend on where you plan to study, and whether you are from the EU or outside of the EU.
Finance for part-time study
You may still be eligible for a student loan if you’re studying part-time. Student Finance England offers loans to students on courses with a ‘course intensity’ of 25% or higher – this is measured by how much of your course you’ll complete each year compared to a full-time student.
For more information and guidance, refer to the Student Finance England website.
Part-time Tuition Fee Loans:
- You’ll need to apply to Student Finance England directly for your loan.
- Part-time Tuition Fee Loans are not means tested – so you’ll be eligible to apply regardless of your income, and whether or not you are currently employed.
- There’s no age limit.
- The earliest you’ll be asked to start repaying your loan is either the April after your course finishes, or the April four years after your course begins (whichever comes first).
- Repayments are linked to your income after graduating – meaning that you’ll only start paying your loan back when you earn more than the income threshold, which is currently £25,725.
- You repay 9% of what you earn over £25,725 – for example, if you earn £26,000, you’ll only repay £24.75 per year (9% of £275).
- Or if you earn £30,000, you’ll pay back £384.75 per year (9% of £4,275).
- Repayments are taken by your employer automatically, through the UK tax system.
How is student finance calculated?
It is means-tested, and based on your household income. As a mature student, there a number of factors that could affect this, such as dependents, employment, and a partner's earnings. SFE have set up a calculator to help clarify what you could be entitled to.
Scholarships and bursaries
Many universities and colleges offer scholarships or bursaries. Check out their individual websites or speak to student services directly (either call or during an open day/visit) for more information, or use the Scholarship Hub.
Other grants and support
Extra support for applicants with invididual needs, and for those with children and dependants may also be available, such as the Parents’ Learning Allowance, Childcare Grant, Adult Dependants’ Grant, Disabled Students Allowances (DSAs), and others.
There is also help available to fund an Access to Higher Education course, called an Advanced Learning Loan. If you take out an Advanced Learning Loan to study an Access to Higher Education Diploma course, it will be written off once you complete a subsequent higher education course.
Where to apply?
Where you need to apply for student finance is dependent on where your chosen course is situated.
- For courses in England, apply to Student Finance England.
- For courses in Northern Ireland, apply to Student Finance Northern Ireland.
- For courses in Scotland, apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland.
- For courses in Wales, apply to Student Finance Wales.
Postgraduate finance and funding
Getting funding for postgraduate study isn't always as straightforward as the process for undergraduate study, but there's still a range of options you can look into.
The finance and funding available for postgraduate teacher training courses varies depending on where in the UK you plan to study.
Student finance resources