Quick guide to fees and finance if you’re studying in Northern Ireland
When it comes to financial support for NI students, the relationship between loans and grants available is a little complicated. Let's break things down...
Note, we’ve kept this mainly focused on full-time undergraduate students who live in Northern Ireland, but the situation can be different if you’re coming to a NI uni or college from England, Scotland or Wales.
- Tuition fees and loans
- Maintenance Loan for living costs
- Grants for living costs
- Students in special circumstances
- Financial support from universities
Tuition fees and loans
If you're from Northern Ireland, the most you’ll pay in tuition fees is £4,030 per year. You can get a Tuition Fee Loan from Student Finance NI to cover this.
Students from England, Wales or Scotland studying in NI can pay up to £9,250 per year, and it's the same if you're a Northern Irish student studying in one of these countries. English, Scottish and Welsh students can apply for the same tuition fee support as they would if studying their home country.
The exact amount you'll be charged in tuition fees will vary from university to university, and depend on the course too.
You’ll only start repaying this loan once you've graduated and earning a certain amount. You will pay interest on whatever you borrow. Because the amount you repay depends on how much you earn and not on how much you’ve borrowed, don’t choose a course based on cost alone.
Maintenance Loan for living costs
This financial support is to help with the costs that come with student life, such as accommodation, food, course materials, socialising etc.
Like the Tuition Fee Loan, you only begin repaying this once you're earning above a certain threshold. You’ll be charged interest on whatever you borrow too.
The maximum amount you can receive will depend on where you will be living during term-time, as well as your household income. Below is a rough guide to how much you could receive:
- You’re living at home with your parents - £3,750 max.
- You’re living and studying away from home in London - £6,780 max.
- You’re living and studying away from home (not in London) - £4,840 max.
Additionally, if your course is longer than 30 term-time weeks, you’re eligible for an extra amount of loan too:
- You’re living with your parents at home - £55 per week
- You’re living and studying away from home in London - £108 per week
- You’re living and studying away from home (not in London) - £84 per week
Note, that if you receive a Maintenance Grant (see below), the amount available to you in Maintenance Loan will be reduced.
Grants for living costs
As well as the Maintenance Loan outlined above, there are two types of grants available to help with these living costs: a Maintenance Grant and a Special Support Grant.
These don't have to be paid back, unless you leave your course early or something changes dramatically in your household income and you're re-assessed, in which case you might have to repay some of the gant. Student Finance NI suggest that you speak to your university before leaving your course to get a clear understanding of how much you'll be expected to repay.
This is based on your household income. If this is below £41,065, you’ll be eligible to receive something, whether the full or partial grant:
- Household income is £19,203 or less - full grant of £3,475
- Household income is between £19,204 and £41,065 - partial grant depending on income
Special Support Grant
This is based on your eligibility for means-tested benefits e.g. if you’re a single parent or you have certain disabilities.
How much you receive is based on the same household income criteria as the Maintenance Grant (see above), with the maximum amount being £3,475.
Keep in mind, that if you receive a Special Support Grant, you can not receive a Maintenance Grant as well. However, unlike Maintenance Grant, whatever you receive for the Special Support Grant won't reduce your Maintenance Loan.
Read more about the Special Support Grant, including who is eligible for this.
Students in special circumstances
There are also specific grants available if you have children or adult dependants or a disability too, which you don’t have to repay.
In some circumstances, medical or dental students are entitled to a grant to cover reasonable travel costs you’ve incurred as part of your course.
Financial support from universities
Bursaries and scholarships, which you never need to pay back, are also on offer directly from universities. These are awarded for lots of different reasons, from personal circumstances to academic achievement. How much these are worth will vary from one institution to another, so check with them directly.
Our guide to bursaries, fee waivers, grants and scholarships will help you find out what's available.
You don’t start repaying any students loans you’ve taken out until the April after you graduate and only once you’re earning more than £17,495 per year before tax. At this point you’ll start to pay 9% of what you earn over that amount. Repayments will be taken by your employer straight from your salary.
Try Student Finance NI’s Repayment Calculator to see what, when and how you’ll repay your loans
After 25 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 earning above the threshold.