With tuition fees of up to £9250 a year, going to University can feel like a big financial commitment to make. However there is plenty of support available for students, so the cost of studying shouldn’t have to be a barrier to you going to university. In this blog we’ll look at some the sources of financial support for students.

Student loans

The information in this section is based on student loans in England. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have their own systems. There are two types of loans available for students, the Tuition Fee Loan and the Maintenance Loan. Majority of students apply for both loans, but if you can cover your tuition fees or your living costs yourself then you don’t have to apply for either of them.

Tuition fee loan

This loan is to cover the cost of your university or college’s tuition fees, and gets paid directly to your university or college. If you are studying at a university then your tuition fees, and your loan, will be either £9,000 or £9,250 a year. If you are studying at a college your tuition fees, and your loan, may be lower as many colleges don’t charge the maximum tuition fee.

Maintenance loan

This loan is designed to help you with your living costs while you’re studying. You’re maintenance loan gets paid directly to you three times a year, at the beginning of each term. It is a means tested loan which means that how much you receive will depend on your personal situation; what your current household income is, whether you will be living at home or moving out while you study and whether you will be living in London. In 2021 the minimum amount of maintenance loan you can get is £3516 a year and the maximum you can get is £12,382. You can also use a maintenance loan calculator to give you a more accurate estimation.

Grants and allowances

The government also has some grants and allowances available for people who may need extra financial support while they’re studying; Childcare Grant, Parents Allowance, Disabled Students Allowance, Adult Dependents Grant. You can find out more information about each of these through the links above. The money is given to you and isn’t added to your student loan debt.

If you are under 25 and don’t have relationship with your parents then you may also be entitled to additional support, and if you are a care leaver you may be entitled to a one off payment from your local authority, get in touch with them more information.

NHS bursaries and learner support funds

The NHS has support available for students studying NHS supported courses, for example medicine, physiotherapy and social work. Exactly what support is available will depend on your course, but you can information about all of the support that is available here.

Scholarships and bursaries

Scholarships and bursaries are pots of money that students can apply for to help them during their studies. Most universities will have their own scholarships and bursaries available, but there are also various charities and foundations that offer them. You can search for scholarships here.

The fact that you have to actively apply for scholarships and bursaries puts off a lot of potential candidates. If you do apply you are often in with a good chance of receiving something!

Student bank accounts

Many students will open a student bank account which gives them access to an interest free over draft. Money Saving Expert do a comparison each year between what each bank is offering.

Having that interest free overdraft available can be a really useful thing for a lot of students, but do make sure that you have a plan for paying your overdraft off once you graduate as your bank may start charging interest after a couple of years and you don’t want to end up with a growing debt.

Discounts and deals for students

Students are often entitled extra deals and discounts. For example students are exempt from paying council tax! Just let your local authority know that you are a student. You might also be able to get discounts on travel passes and at many retailers, it’s worth checking out whether any services you already regularly use offer discounts for students!

Student jobs

If you’re concerned about finding a job that will fit around your studies then talk to your students union. They may have links to good local employers, or they might be able to help you find some work at the university. Lots of universities use students for temporary roles such as data entry or reception work. These roles tend to be well paid and flexible around your studies so are worth checking out if you want to earn while you study.

If you do have a part time job while studying then have a talk with your manager and make sure that they understand that you may need time off or flexible shifts around your deadlines and exams.

Further information

Save the Student is a website that is filled with clear, easy to understand information and insights into everything to do with student finances. You might find their survey on average student spending a useful starting point if you want to do some further reading about what your costs as a student are likely to be.

Going to university is a big financial commitment, but from student loans to discounts and deals there is support out there to make things easier and more affordable.

Author: Mary Somerville