Picking your university, applying, and getting the grades is stressful enough. Then, once you have secured your place the stress just seems to keep coming. You have your halls of residence to pick, endless homewares to purchase, and then there’s the dreaded student finance. We’ve put together a little crash course to student loans, helping to make the least exciting part of going to university a little easier.
First of all, we recommend getting your student loan sorted as early as possible. Once you have accepted your offer, its best to head straight to the Student Finance England (SFE) website. If SFE require further documentation as evidence, then this may cause delays to you receiving your first payment. Therefore, the earlier you submit your application, the more likely you will receive your loan in time for the start of term.
However, it is important to note that you need to have a confirmed university place in order to apply.
For undergraduate courses you can receive a maximum tuition fee loan of up to £9,250 per year. This goes directly to the university to pay for your course.
In addition to the tuition fee loan you can also apply for a maintenance loan. This is means tested based on your household income. The lower your combined household income, the more likely you will receive a higher sum.
Both loans are to be paid back in full and gain interest from the moment you receive your first instalment - sounds scary, but this is nothing to worry about.
To eliminate the stress of borrowing money and interest rates we thought we’d also include the repayment terms which make it all seem a lot less scary.
Firstly, you will only start to repay your student loan once you start earning over a certain threshold. These tend to increase every year with the current threshold standing at £2,274 a month before tax and other deductions (roughly £27,288 a year). To give some context, the average graduate salary in the UK according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency is around £24,000. Therefore, it is unlikely you will have to start repaying your loan until you have been working for a few years.
Even once you have hit this threshold, you will then only pay back 9% of your income over the threshold amount. For example, if you earn £28,000 a year, so £2,333 a month, you’d only pay back 9% of £2,333 - £2,274 (£59) which is only £5.31 a month.
Furthermore, 30 years after the first April you were due to pay back your loan, if you haven’t yet paid it back in full then your loan is written off!
These are offered by either the university you are attending, charities, councils, or businesses as opposed to SFE. They require certain criteria to be satisfied and do not need to paid back. Some examples of criteria used include:
Geographical location – some universities have started trying to encourage local students to attend their university and therefore offer grants to students within a certain radius of the university or postcode. Similarly, some universities also offer grants to postcodes with low higher education attendance rates.
Household income – This is the most common form of bursary or grant. You will receive this if your combined household income falls below a certain threshold set by the university. When applying for your student loan there will be an option to share your financial information with your chosen university. If you select this option then the university will automatically send you the funds once term has begun - you do not need to apply. Every university distributes the sums differently, however most tend to split the amount in half, providing the first half in the autumn term and the second half in the spring/summer term.
It is worth doing some research regarding grants and bursaries offered by your chosen university or local organizations. This will ensure you receive the support you are entitled to. Moreover, it will help with further budgeting for the year once you know when and how much you can receive.
Once again, these are offered by universities, councils, charities, or businesses as opposed to SFE. These tend to be offered for high achievers in certain areas. This could be academically, or within certain sports. Sponsorships can also be offered based on your country of origin, region/proximity to the university, gender or course chosen. They are commonly provided as tuition fee reductions rather than cash sums sent to your bank account.
This is based on your need as an individual and your household income. The purpose of the allowance is for any additional costs you will incur as a result of a disability, mental health issue or long-term illness when studying. You can get this allowance on top of any other finance you receive and it doesn’t not need to be paid back.
The disabled students allowance is paid by the government and you can apply through your student finance application. The funds are paid either to you or the company providing the equipment.
The disabled students allowance can be used for purchasing equipment such as a new computer to complete your studies. SFE may need you to attend a needs assessment, this is a meeting to determine how best you can be supported by the allowance but it is not always necessary.
You apply for this at the same time as your main SFE application and are eligible if you are financially responsible for an adult or child who you live with.
Childcare grant – In England you can get up to 85% of your childcare costs covered based on your household income. In addition to this you can apply for further funding in the form of the Parents Learning Allowance of up to £1,821.
Adult dependent grant – In England you can receive up to £3,190 in additional funding if you have an adult who is dependent on you.
These are the main sources of finance for students currently offered. It is worth assessing your needs and conducting some research into what support you can gain access to whilst at university. With so much on offer its definitely worth it to not miss out!