Financial Help with the Costs of Higher Education
When you see what it costs to study for a higher education course, the figures can be alarming. However, there is financial help available to help you meet these costs. When you’re researching whether to study for a higher education course it’s important to be aware of all the financial help you could be eligible for.
LoansStudent loans are administered by the Student Loans Company and get paid directly into students’ bank accounts. Students don’t have to pay students loans back until they’re earning at least £15,000 a year.
There are two types of student loan you can take out to help with higher education costs:
- Student Loan for Fees
Student Loans for Fees are non means-tested and all full-time students are eligible to borrow the amount to cover their full fees. Fees in 2008/9 can be up to £3,145.
- Student Loan for Maintenance
Student Loans for Maintenance are to help students with living costs, such as accommodation, food and travel. Maintenance Loans are means-tested, which means the amount you can receive will depend on your household income. In 2008/9 up to £6, 475 per year is available for students studying in London. Students living outside London can qualify for up to £4,625, and those living with their parents could get up to £3,580.
Unless you’re a mature student, it will be your parents’ income which is assessed. All students are entitled to apply for 75% of the Maintenance Loan. The more your parents earn, the less Maintenance Loan you’ll be entitled to above this basic 75%.
GrantsOn top of loans, many students are also eligible for a Maintenance Grant. Grants don’t have to be paid back.
Maintenance Grants are means tested and a maximum or £2,835 a year is currently available. If you get a Maintenance Grant, up to £1,260 of it is paid instead of the Student Loan for Maintenance, meaning you can borrow less.
An alternative to the Maintenance Grant is the Special Support Grant. Students who are likely to qualify for a Special Support Grant include single parents and students with qualifying disabilities. The Special Support Grant has no effect on the amount of student loan which can be borrowed.
Access to Learning FundsAccess to Learning Funds are there to help students who run out of money while they are studying, through for example an emergency or late payment of other financial help.
A student adviser will be able to help you apply for an Access to Learning Fund should you need to.
Scholarships and bursariesOn top of loans and grants, universities also offer a limited number of grants and bursaries. Help may be in the form of money, or in kind, for example books or a bike. Look on individual university websites for details of the scholarships and bursaries that they offer.
Scholarships and bursaries don’t have to be repaid.
Extra helpThere is also a lot of help available for students with specific needs, for example students who are studying for teaching or social work courses, students with children and disabled students. You will be assessed for this help on your student finance application.
Part-time workMost students undertake some form of part-time work to help out with their costs these days. Common student jobs include bar work, and working in restaurants and shops. It’s important that part-time work doesn’t interfere with your university work though. Most universities suggest that students do no more than 15 hours per week paid work.
DiscountsMany shops, bars and transport companies offer quite generous discounts to students. Taking advantage of these where possible can really help save some money.
The important thing is to make sure that you receive all the financial help that you are entitled to. Our article Applying For Financial Help For a Higher Education Course will help you ensure that you do this.