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Applying for Financial Help for a Higher Education Course

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 6 Jan 2021 | comments*Discuss
Student Loan Grants Student Finance

There is a lot of financial help available for higher education students, and you’ll need to know how to apply for it in order to get everything you’re entitled to.

Luckily, the student finance application process is quite straightforward-you just need to know where to look and when to do it!

When to Apply for Student Finance

The earlier you apply for grants and loans the better, and you can start your student finance application as soon as you start applying for courses, or as soon as the finance application forms are released.

You don’t have to wait until you have been accepted onto a course to apply. You can initially just put down the course you are most likely to be taking and then change this later if you need to.

If you want to receive any money, such as loans and grants, by the start of the September term you’ll need to get your application in by the end of June. If you apply after this date it isn’t too late, but you may not receive your money until after term has started.

How to Apply for Financial Help

You can apply for financial support by post or online. If you would prefer to fill in a paper form you can get one from your Local Authority. If you are happy to make your application online, you can go to the Student Finance Direct website. They are the company which administers student finance.

Your application will then be assessed in terms of household income and personal circumstances, and once the decision has been made you’ll receive details of your entitlement and payment schedule.


If you’re applying for a part-time higher education course, you will need to fill in a PTG1 form, available from your Local Authority or the Direct Gov site. You then take this form into your college or university once you have started your course. They will fill part of the form in and usually submit it for you or provide you with instructions.

If you’re applying for a course at the Open University, you will apply for financial help directly through them, so you’ll need to contact them about how to do this.

Completing Your Application

As your application has to be assessed there are a few documents and pieces of information you’ll need to include:

  • Details of Your Parents’ or Spouse’s Income
  • Your passport
  • Your birth certificate
  • Documents pertaining to any extra help you’re applying for, for example childcare or disability allowances

You should start sorting the relevant documentation out as early as possible because if anything is missing your application could be delayed.

Scholarships and Bursaries

You can apply for scholarships and bursaries at the same time as the rest of your student finance package. Some universities administer their own scholarships and bursaries, and others are handled by Student Finance Direct. There is a section on the application form where you are asked to tick if you’re happy for the information to be shared with your college or university. You must tick this as forgetting to do so has meant that some students have missed out on this financial help in the past.

Student Finance Payments

Your student finance payments will usually arrive at the start of each term (depending on when you applied). If you apply online you are able to track your account and payment dates by logging on to the Student Finance Direct website.

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