Guide to finance for students

When applying to university it is important to understand how you are going to pay for your studies. If you are confused about what’s on offer and who is eligible, read our simple guide to finance for students, for a straightforward explanation of what’s out there and how to get it.

Money from the Government

The main sources of student finance from the government are:

  • A Tuition Fee Loan – this is a loan of up to £9,250 a year, made to you to pay for your tuition fees and it is paid directly to the University you will be attending by the Student Loan company. All full-time students are entitled to a tuition fee loan, which is designed to cover the full cost of the university tuition fee. The loan is transferred directly to the institution that you are attending, so you never see the money. However, it is important to note that not all tuition fees are the same in every region - these vary across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as tuition fees vary across these locations. The maximum tuition fee loan currently stands at £9,250 and if the university you are going to charges this for your course this is the loan you will get.
  • A Maintenance Loan – this loan of up to £11,002 a year intended to help towards your living costs whilst at University including accommodation. Everyone is entitled to a percentage of this loan, but to be eligible for the full amount you will be required to provide details of your household income. All eligible students are also entitled to a maintenance loan, which is designed to help students pay for living costs whilst at university. This loan lands in your bank account at the start of each term in the form of instalments, and you can use it however you like, but the smart thing to do is of course put it towards your basic living costs (accommodation, utility bills, food, savings, etc).

It’s important to note that maintenance loans are awarded on a sliding scale - the higher your household income, the less support you’ll get. Whereas students from low-income households may be eligible for an increased maintenance loan. What you will get also varies depending on the specific region of the UK. Many students find that their maintenance loan does not cover their living costs and have to either find a part time job or get financial support from their parents.

These loans need to be paid back and you will be charged interest on them as soon as you start your course. Learn more about the loan repayment terms of the undergraduate and postgraduate loans.

Are you eligible to receive government student finance?
Loans are available from the UK government and are offered to UK/EU students studying full or part time at an accredited UK institution. You need to be studying your first Higher Education qualification (unless you are applying for a Masters Loan)

Find out more about eligibility for undergraduate and postgraduate  loans. 

Other sources of finance for students

Scholarships, Grants & Bursaries - These terms seem to be used fairly interchangeably and it can be confusing, but the basic principle of each is the same. The main thing to remember is that any money you receive as a scholarship, grant or bursary, does not need to be paid back. Often there are stipulations about how the money can be spent or conditions attached requiring specific commitments from you as the recipient.

You can find out more about this type of funding in our Guide to UK Scholarships.

Grants from charities and trusts.
There are literally thousands of smaller charities and trusts in the UK which offer grants either for educational or welfare purposes. Each one will have its own specific criteria and you will need to identify those for which you might be eligible. As part of our member benefits package, you can access an external database of over 3,500 charities and trusts which offer educational related grants or you can find them in the “Guide to Educational Grants”, a book which can be found in most reference libraries.

Grants from the government
There are still some student grants available to UK students even though the maintenance grant is no longer offered for anyone who started university in 2016 or beyond. Grants are offered by the government for students with specific circumstances or needs, as well as potential grants from charities and trusts. Remember that these grants are free money that you do not need to pay back so make sure you know what’s out there and whether you are eligible to apply.

Funds4Uni is a unique partnership between The Scholarship Hub and easyfundraising which allows students to fundraise for their studies at both undergraduate and postgraduate level without it costing their supporters a penny.

Free donations are made by retailers to support your education, every time one of your supporters – family and friends – shops online via Funds4Uni. This scheme can be used to save towards your university expenses, help relieve some of the costs while you are there, or pay towards your loans once you’ve finished. Find out more and sign up here.