Student Finance

Although the UK has some of the best universities in the world, this sadly comes at a cost. Unlike many countries around the world, university in the UK is not always free. Education falls under the devolved governments in the UK, so the prices vary across the countries. If you have lived in Scotland for three years, you are eligible for an entirely free education at university. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there is a price cap imposed on the universities by the government, which cannot be exceeded. At the time of writing, this is set at£9,250 per academic year for an undergraduate course in England, £9,000 in Wales and £4,630 in Northern Ireland. However, these costs are higher for international students, including those from the EU. 

Given the fee of these universities, financial help is available under an organisation called Student Finance. To be eligible for student finance, you must have lived in the UK for three years prior to applying and be a UK national. Following Brexit, student finance is no longer available to EU students unless already registered under the pre-settlement scheme prior to 30 June 2021. Unless there are residential ties to the UK or its dependencies, no financial support is available for international students either. 

Student Finance can help cover your university academic fee, in fact, they pay directly to the university for your entire tuition. Many people are also eligible for a maintenance loan to help with living costs as well as tuition. You can apply for a means-tested maintenance loan, which is based on your household income i.e. your parents’ income. The higher your household income, the smaller the amount of maintenance loan available. Alternatively, you can apply for the non-means-tested maintenance loan which is the standard fixed minimum loan. This is paid directly to your bank account each academic semester. 

It’s relatively easy to apply for a student loan, provided you have all your details to hand. You’ll need to reapply each year until your course has finished, including a year in industry or a year abroad. Everything moves pretty quickly when offers come flooding in with A-level results in August so it’s advisable to apply for it when applying to universities. It will only come into effect if you’re accepted into and decide to go to the university of your choice. 

Of course, this is a loan and needs to be repaid. However, there is a fair bit of flexibility with this. The loan gathers interest from the day you confirm it with Student Finance. You’ll need to pay back both the amount lent as well as any interest gathered. You can start paying back your loan the April after your graduation. You can optionally make contributions to your student loan to pay it off a bit at a time. However, as soon as you start earning£27,296 part of your salary will automatically be paid back to Student Loans. Depending on the plan you selected, you could be paying 6-9% of your monthly income that is over the basic income threshold. 

All these student loans have a cancellation policy and the remaining amount to pay off is cut off after 30 years from graduating. 

  • This blog is only for information purposes only.
  • Please note all this information is correct at the time of writing but may change. 
  • Please carry out your own research and contact authorised advisors for any student finance decisions


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