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Quick guide to student finance if you’re from England

Student finance can feel like a bit of a minefield, so it’s important you get all the facts. If you’re from England, here’s what you need to know.

Not applying to Student Finance England? Check our guides to see how student finance works in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

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Introduction

Get started by watching this quick video sum-up from Student Finance England
 

So to sum up, there are two types of expenses for students: tuition fees and living costs.

You can still apply after this date but it's not guaranteed that you'll receive it in time for September. You can apply for student finance up to 9 months after the beginning of your course.

Tuition fees

Students in England will pay a maximum of £9,250 per year in tuition fees. The cap on how much universities can charge has been raised from £9,250 for those offering a certain high standard of teaching. For all other universities, the cap remains at £9,000. Read more about these recent changes to maximum fees.

This is the case no matter where English students study, whether in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland (and is the same for students from these countries who choose to study in England).

You don’t need to find the money to pay your fees upfront. You can apply for a tuition fee loan  to cover these, and you’ll only begin repaying this once you’ve graduated and earning over a certain amount. You can read more about this, below.

While it might seem like a lot of money now, don’t just look at the price-tag when choosing courses – find the course that’s right for you! Because of the way you’ll repay your loan, a course with lower tuition fees doesn’t always work out cheaper. How much you repay per month will depend on how much you’re earning. So push repayments to the back of your mind, focus on your studies and think about paying back your loan later.

Student loans 

Tuition fee loan

This part of the loan is designed to cover your fee costs. You can borrow up to £9,250 a year (or however much your fees are).

Maintenance loan

This part is designed to cover the cost of accommodation and living costs. You’ll start repaying the maintenance loans once you're earning more than £21,000 per year a la tuition fee loan repayments. 

How much you’ll receive will depend on your household income the less this is, the more loan you're entitled to. If your annual household income is £25,000 or less, you can receive the maximum amount of £8,200 (if you’re studying in London, this increases to £10,702). How much you’re eligible for decreases as your annual household income increases. The maintenance loan replaces previous grants which were available. You can learn more about these on the Ucas site
 
So from this point, students can apply for a tuition fee loan and a maintenance fee loan (both repayable) only. You’ll apply for both student loans in one go, via the Student Finance England website

On an NHS-funded course? Your support will be different
 

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    Grants, bursaries and scholarships (i.e. free cash)

    There are also a number of extra funding options which you don’t have to repay if you’re studying under certain circumstances. Bursaries and scholarships can be offered by your university based on your academic ability, so ask about these. 

    Remember that the non-repayable grants no longer exist; these have been replaced with maintenance loans which do need to be paid back.

    Low income?

    If you meet certain criteria you can receive a minimum of £57.90 per week through income support.
     

    Do you have children or dependant adults?

    If you’re a full-time higher education student and you have children or adults who depend on you for care and finance support, there are a number of (non-repayable) grants available:

    Childcare Grant: to help with childcare costs for full-time students, these are worth up to £155.24 per week if you have one child or £266.15 per week if you have two or more.

    Parents’ Learning Allowance: worth up to £1,573 a year, if you have children you can apply for this to help with costs tied to your education and course such as books and travel. This is dependent on household income. 

    Adult Dependants’ Grant: if you have an adult who depends on you financially, you can apply for this grant worth up to £2,757.

    Child Tax Credit: if you’re responsible for a child either under 16 or under 20 and in approved education or training, you can receive financial support for each qualifying child. Calculate how much in Child Tax Credits you can receive based on your circumstances.
     

    Are you disabled?

    Disabled Students’ Allowances are available if you have a disability that meets the Equality Act 2010’s definition of such, such as a long-term health or mental health condition or learning difficulty. What support you receive will depend on your disability.
     

    Studying a particular subject?

    If you’re studying a medical, dentistry or healthcare course, you can apply for NHS bursaries as well as for help with travel costs to placements as part of your course.

    There are also bursaries for social work students and extra help for teacher training students.
     

    Support from university or college

    There are also Hardship Funds available. If you’re struggling to support yourself financially while studying, you can apply to your university or college for assistance. How much you can receive will vary from one institution to the next as this is not government-funded. You’ll need to speak to the student services department at your university or college for more information.

    Bursaries and scholarships are awarded by universities and colleges and do not have to be repaid either. They are awarded for lots of different reasons – from personal circumstances to academic achievement. 

    Our guide to bursaries, fee waivers, grants and scholarships has more information, including the answer to the all-important question: how much cash could you get?

    Repaying your student debt

    The below information on repayments applies to those who fall under 'Plan 2' which is for students in England who started studying after September 1st 2012. Read more about Plan 1 and 2 here.

    You could come out of a three-year university course with up to £50,025 (plus interest) to pay back in student loans, although most will have a lower level of debt.

    You'll only start paying back your student loan once you are earning over the threshold. This is currently £21,000 per year; but following government announcements in October 2017, this is set to rise to £25,000. Once you are earning above this, you'll pay back 9% of your income that's above the threshold; so it doesn't matter how much you borrowed, but rather how much you're earning.

    To calculate exactly how much you'll pay back monthly:

    • Take your annual salary (before tax)
    • Minus £21,000 from it (£25,000 as per government announcements in October 2017)
    • Calculate 9% of that
    • Divide by 12 to see how much you'll pay back roughly per month

    After 30 years, any outstanding debt you still owe will be written off, even if you didn’t pay anything during some of that time (because you weren’t working or you were earning below the repayment threshold).

    A major review into university funding in 2010 estimated that around 60% of graduates won’t have paid their full loan back after 30 years. So, either you’ll be lucky enough to be in the top group of graduate earners for the full term, or you’ll never repay it all.

    How much interest will you pay?

    This will depend on the current Retail Price Index (RPI) in the country plus your circumstances. While studying and until the April after you leave your course, this would be RPI plus 3%. If you come into repayment from April 2016, this will vary according to your income once you graduate ranging from RPI if you're earning £21,000 or less to RPI + 3% if your income is £41,000 or more.

    Resources to help you budget

    For a personalised look at how much you’ll need to borrow, and how to calculate your day-to-day costs, we really like MoneySavingExpert’s student finance calculator to see where most of your money is going so you can make practical changes to reduce your outgoings.

    You can also download our 'Complete guide to student finance' for free; this includes a guide to creating a student budget that works...
     

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