The HFS Survival Guide To Student Finance UK!

Student loans have had a bad rep the past few years and tens of thousands of ££’s worth of debt might seem a bit…well…off-putting as a young adult.

In reality, the loans are pretty affordable and easy to obtain!  There are also loads of non-repayable funds that you could be entitled to, so it is worth checking these out too.

Here at HFS, we’ve created the ultimate faff-free guide to Student Finance UK; what it is, when to apply, and when you pay it back.

So without further ado, sit back and relax in your cosy student living and get ready to be the master of student finance!

What Is Student Finance UK?

What is student finance UK?

Student Finance is a UK government-funded initiative with the goal to make university education open to all financial backgrounds.

It provides loans to all students to cover tuition fees and partially means-tested maintenance loans are also available to help with other living.

All students should be able to receive some sort of maintenance loan on top of tuition fees!

Tuition Fee Loan

Tuition fee loan student finance UK

Your uni or college sets the fee for your schooling, which can be up to £9,250 per year.

This loan is not means-tested so you are able to borrow the full whack to cover all tuition costs.

Even better, it’s paid directly to your institution and you only repay it after you graduate and earn a certain amount!

Scottish students may be eligible for free tuition if they study in Scotland, however, you will still need to apply to Student Finance to ensure you don’t get charged by your college or uni.

Maintenance Loan

Maintenance Loan

The maintenance loan differs from the tuition fee loan because it is paid straight to you.

Its goal is to cover your living expenses such as rent, food and anything else you may need.

The loans are usually paid in three instalments at the start of each term, although this may differ in Scotland.

As this is partially means-tested, how much you get depends on how what your household income is; basically what your parents earn.

The higher your household income, the lower the maintenance loan you will be eligible to borrow. If you’re studying in London, you may also get slightly more.

Use the Student Finance Calculator to get an estimate of what your loan could be.

If you don’t get the full amount from Student Finance, you will need to plug the gaps yourself with a job or if you’re able to ask family members. However you get your cash monies, you should make sure that you stay on top of your budget.

You may also be eligible for other financial assistance depending on your circumstances such as if you are on a low income, have children or have a disability.

Check out the criteria here and even if it means more paperwork, these funds could be non-repayable so it’s worth seeing if it applies to you.

How And When To Apply

For those of you who are super organised, you can start applying before you’ve even accepted your university place. This means that as early as the February before your course is due to start, you could have this whole thing done and dusted.

There’s also no set deadline for applying which means you can decide to apply during your time at uni.

If you do decide to do this, just remember that your loan might take longer to come in. The deadlines below are the latest date you can apply to ensure the finance will be in place for the start of the term.

We suggest getting your applications in prior to these deadlines to have the best chance of ensuring your loan lands in time for Freshers Week. It also gives you time to sort out any issues with paperwork or evidence.

Don’t forget, you also have to reapply every year for tuition and maintenance.

Student Finance England

Deadline for new students: 21st May 2021.

Deadline for returning students: 25th June 2021.

Apply online »

Student Finance Northern Ireland

Deadline for new students: 15th April 2021.

Deadline for returning students: 25th June 2021.

Apply online »

Student Awards Agency Scotland

Deadline for new and returning students: 30th June 2021.

Apply online »

Student Finance Wales

Deadline for new students: 4th June 2021.

Deadline for returning students: 25th June 2021.

Apply online »

Staying In Touch

Staying in touch student finance UK

The huns at the Student Finance Office are keen to know where you live, your phone number and your employment situation.

Keep Karen from finance updated at all times, as you don’t want to risk missing out on funding or, if you’re overpaid, having to pay back the extra.

Deciding to ignore chaser emails can result in penalty fees or higher interest rates – you have been warned.


Repayment loan student finance UK

The repayment of both your Student Loans only kicks in once you start earning over a set amount:

  • An annual income of £19,895 for NI Students,
  • An annual income of £27,295 for England and Wales Students
  • An annual income of £25,000 for Scottish Students.

The monthly amount is taken straight from your pay-cheque so you don’t have to do anything! If you lose your job or remain out of work, the repayments are automatically stopped so don’t fret pet.

Whilst uni isn’t for everyone, and you shouldn’t stay if you are struggling, make sure you talk about your options with a uni advisor or the Student Finance Team before you make a decision.  Dropping out might mean you have to repay grants and can prevent you from getting Student Finance in the future. Having said that, always make the right choice for you and your mental health.

Student Finance UK is not as daunting as it initially feels and is a really good way of funding your further education.  The key things to remember are:

  1. Get to grips with your entitlement in advance of applying
  2. Get your application in as early as possible
  3. Don’t forget to reapply every year.

We hope you found our HFS student survival guide to student finance UK handy, don’t worry, it may seem confusing at first but it honestly isn’t! Once you’ve got your head around it all, it’s nice and simple, and well…you get money! Wondering how to decorate your uni room to make it nice and cosy? Check out our latest blog!

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