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A complete guide to student finance in England

You’re working hard, hoping for fantastic grades, and applied to all your dream universities. Well done!

But then comes the dreaded throe of navigating student finance.

From endless forms to a barrage of information about various loans and grants, applying to Student Finance can be overwhelming at the best of times.

Luckily, Pickard Properties is here to help ease that confusion and lessen any anxieties you may have. The complete guide to Student Finance England will have you feeling ready and confident to embark on the next chapter of your life.

The different types of student finance

Student Finance enables people from any background to be able to afford and attend university. However, some of what you are entitled to is dependent on what your household (usually your parents or caregivers) earn.

The two major types of student finance are the Tuition Fee Loan and the Maintenance Loan. If you have a health condition, childcare costs, or any placement costs, you may also be entitled to further financial help in the form of grants or bursaries.

Individual universities may also assist their students with means-tested grants and scholarships – these are usually accessed directly through the university itself.

Most students from the UK can apply to Student Finance, even if you are attending as a mature student. However, depending on where your university is and where you currently live, you may have less (or even no) tuition fees.

Tuition fee loan

The majority of universities charge £9,250 a year for course fees.

Tuition fees can be covered by a Tuition Fee Loan from Student Finance. You can either apply for the full amount or specify how much you would like to borrow.

Unlike a Maintenance Loan, this is paid directly to your university. Furthermore, this loan is not means-tested, meaning that you do not need to provide evidence of your financial background when applying.

Maintenance loan

Student Maintenance Loans are intended to help students pay for general day-to-day living costs, including student housing, food, school supplies, and more.

The maximum Maintenance Loan you can usually apply for is £9,488 – this increases slightly if you are studying in London or spend a part of your course overseas.

However, it’s important to note that you are not guaranteed the maximum amount. Maintenance Loans are means-tested, meaning your household income and parents or caregivers’ salaries will be taken into account when calculating your final loan amount.

This is because Student Finance expects a student’s parents to contribute to the living costs of their children while studying at university. So, the larger your household income, the less Maintenance Loan you will receive. You can also specify if you wish to borrow slightly less than you are entitled to as well – handy if you plan on using some savings.

You can use the Student Finance calculator to estimate how much student funding you will receive when starting a new undergraduate course before you apply.

Other grants and scholarships

Depending on your circumstances, you may also be eligible to apply for other grants and allowances through Student Finance, some of which won’t be repayable.

If you are a parent, you can take advantage of the Parents’ Learning Allowance, while the Childcare Grant helps pay for a childminder, nursery, or other childcare fees.

If you are financially responsible for another adult (a carer) you can get support from an Adult Dependents’ Grant. This is also means-tested.

The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) offers extra money for those who have a disability that causes them extra costs when studying. You will need to provide evidence or be assessed, but the funding given can be extremely beneficial – students from England can receive up to £25,000 per year in DSA funding, and, unlike other loans, you won’t need to pay this back.

Other funding includes an NHS Bursary if you are studying for a healthcare-related degree, travel grants to help pay for flights and visas if you are studying abroad as part of your course, and individual bursaries and scholarships handed out by universities themselves.

Be sure to contact your university directly if you are concerned about finances and want to take advantage of their funding options. You may be surprised to hear about the amount of help available, especially if you are from a low-income household.

Postgraduate student finance

If studying a postgraduate course in England, you can apply for a Master’s Loan of up to £11,570. This is not means-tested and is paid directly to you, though students usually use it to pay for their tuition fees.

If your course lasts for more than a year, the loan will be divided equally.

You can only receive a Master’s Loan once, and if you already hold a master’s degree or higher, you won’t be eligible for the loan.

When to apply for student finance

Apply for student finance in the spring before your course begins. You usually do this before you know what university you are attending, giving you enough time to gather your paperwork and do your research.

You can apply as late as nine months after starting your course, but it’s recommended that you apply early so your payments arrive on time.

You will need to reapply for student finance each year that you are at university, though the process is considerably shorter.

How to apply for student finance

Applying for student finance is now done entirely online. You will be expected to upload digital evidence of your household income and any information about persona circumstances through an online portal.

Your parents or caregivers will also create a profile in order to ‘support’ your application and provide their financial details.

You will be able to track all your correspondence with Student Finance England this way, including if they require any further information, details of the amount of money you will receive, and payment dates.

When will I receive my student finance?

When your Student Finance loan comes in depends on your course start date. If you submitted your application in the spring and your course begins in September, you will receive your first payment in September also.

Maintenance Loans are then paid in three equal installments, the rest of which you will receive in January and April. As already mentioned, your Tuition Fee Loans are paid directly to your university.

When do you start paying back your student loan?

You only start paying back your student loan the April after you leave your course, and this is also only if your income is over a certain amount.

Currently, you need to earn £27,295 before tax before you begin paying back your student loan. For Master’s Loans, the amount is £21,000. The amount is usually automatically deducted from your paycheque.

Grants and scholarships will often not need to be repaid – check before applying if this is the case.


Once you’ve navigated the tricky world of Student Finance, you’ll be well on your way to beginning your new university life. Let Pickard Properties help you further settle into independent living, with student accommodation in and around the Leeds area.

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