Applying to university and preparing for September entry is an exciting time for many students. Often, you will have heard the term “student finance” being used. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding what Student Finance is and how you can access it. We have outlined the key things you need to know about Student Finance below to help you get started with your next chapter.
What is Student Finance?
Student Finance is a scheme funded by the government to allow all students from any financial background to go to university. If you are from a low-income household and are worried about tuition fees and living expenses, student finance is available to support you financially.
Is Student Finance different from Tuition Fees?
Student finance allows you to go to university without having to pay upfront tuition fees. Depending on your university, your tuition fees can be up to £9,250 a year. This figure can be higher for international students, and in some cases the student finance loan will be insufficient to cover 100% of your tuition costs. If you are a UK student, studying at an approved university, then you will be awarded a full tuition loan up to £9,250.
Is Student Finance available in two forms?
It can be easy to think that student finance is just a cheque that comes in the post and you can use it to pay your tuition fees. Incorrect. If this is your first time applying to university or a similar course, and you are attending a registered university and studying an approved course, then you should be eligible for both a tuition fee loan and a maintenance loan. The maintenance loan will help you to cover your university costs (books, equipment & study materials) and could contribute towards your rent costs.
Is Student Finance free?
Student Finance sounds like a great idea in theory. However, it does unfortunately need to be paid back … eventually! Your tuition fee loan and your maintenance loan are exactly that - loans. While they do not need to be repaid immediately, they will be slowly repaid once you start earning an income. The start of repayment is dependent on your income and what student repayment plan you are on. The repayment plan you are likely to be on is repayment plan 2, for students from England and Wales who are studying an undergraduate course within the UK and started their course on or after September 1st 2012. If you have a Plan 2 student loan, you will only repay when your income is over £27,295 a year (before tax and other deductions). If your income falls below this threshold again (i.e. you lose your job or you are paid a lower salary), then repayment will also be paused.
Is Student Finance the only form of funding I can receive?
Luckily, there are lots of other forms of incomes available for those going to or currently attending university. Many students can receive scholarships, bursaries and grants depending on which course they are studying and their background. You should research the scholarships, bursaries and grants available and see if you are eligible for any of them. Some students studying medicine and dentistry, for example, are eligible for a NHS bursary. When attending open days, this is a good opportunity to ask different universities what scholarships and bursaries are available.
Ultimately, student finance is a great way for all students to access university without the financial pressure to pay for tuition fees upfront. If you have been worried about tuition fees, this can help to alleviate some of the concerns you have had about attending university.