Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy.

Quick guide to student finance if you’re from Scotland

Are you a Scottish student planning to stay in Scotland for uni? Hoorah! You won’t pay a penny in tuition fees...

Note, here we are mainly focusing on full-time undergraduate "young students" beginning a course in 2017 and who live in Scotland. Where there’s an important difference for other UK students, we’ve mentioned it. 

Skip to:

A quick introduction

The Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) is the country’s agency when it comes to financial support for Scottish students pursuing higher education anywhere in the UK.

The following information is aimed at what the SAAS refer to as “young students” under which you will probably fall under. If you don’t meet all of these requirements as listed on the SAAS site, you are considered an “Independent student” and the information below might not quite apply.

Studying elsewhere? Read our guides to student finance in 
England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as for part-time students.

No tuition fees for Scottish students studying in Scotland

If you’re staying in Scotland to go to uni, then good news: your tuition fees will be paid for you by the SAAS – you don’t have to pay a thing back!

This means you have to be living in Scotland when you apply to university; if you were born in Scotland but moved elsewhere and then applied, you are not considered a Scottish resident and thus won’t qualify.

But remember that you still need to apply to the SAAS for this, each year of your course. 

Scottish students studying in England, Wales or Northern Ireland

You can apply for a student loan (non-income assessed) to pay part of or all your fees. Keep in mind that by not staying in your home country to study, you forfeit your free tuition and could be charged upwards of £9,250 a year in annual fees study in these countries.

English, Welsh and Northern Irish students studying in Scotland

You’ll be eligible to pay up to £9,250 a year in Scottish higher education tuition fees, as you would if you remained in your home country to study. 

Is there funding for Scottish students' living costs?

Scottish students studying in Scotland

So you don’t have to worry about tuition fees - fantastic! But you still need to think about money for accommodation, books, travel and nights out.

You can apply for a maintenance loan which is means-tested based on your household and circumstances. The maximum you can receive is £5,750 and the minimum loan is £4,750. This must be repaid.

If you’re under 25 years old, you can also apply for a 'Young Students’ Bursary'. This does not need to be paid back. You can receive up to £1,875 if your annual household income is under £18,999 and slowly reduces as that income reaches £34,000 a year.

There are also further funding options for specific courses (e.g. nursing and midwifery) and living cost grants depending on personal circumstances (e.g. if you have an adult dependant whom you care for or you have a disaility or learning difficulty). You won't need to pay these back either, so it's worth doing some research about these. There are some eligibility conditions to meet in order to qualify for these. See the SAAS website for more details

Scottish students studying in England, Wales or Northern Ireland

Living cost assistance is the same as it would be if you were studying in Scotland. The one difference is that instead of the Young Students’ Bursary, you would apply for the 'Students’ Outside of Scotland Bursary' (worth up to £2,150).

Repaying your student loan

If you’re a Scottish student, you won’t begin repaying any students loans (and interest on top) until the April after you graduate and only once you’re earning more than £17,775 per year. You’ll repay 9% of whatever you earn annually above £17,775. Repayments will be taken from your pay by your employer, alongside tax and National Insurance.

The government subsidises the actual cost of interest on the loans so any interest that accumulates will be linked to the rate of inflation – simply put, the amount you pack back will be roughly the same compared to what you originally borrowed. 

Read more about Scottish loan repayments on the SAAS site.

Repayment example:

So if you graduate and get a job with an annual salary of £20,000, you’ll repay the following:

Minus the minimum repayment threshold from your salary: 

£20,000 - £17,775 = £2225

Calculate 9% of this to get what you’ll repay annually (and divide by 12 to get the monthly repayment figure): 

£2665/100 x 9= £200.25 repaid annually

£200.25 / 12 = £16.69 repaid monthly

Try the SAAS’ Repayment Calculator to get an idea of how much you would repay

After 35 years, any outstanding debt you still owe will be written off, even if you didn’t pay anything during that time.


Email me expert tips
We would like to send you great free advice about uni - and information about other relevant Which? Group services.
To simply download, select the 'just download' option at the bottom of the form
  • Just download
    No spam and you can unsubscribe at any time - see our privacy policy.
    Close panel
    Thank you!
    You’re all signed up. Look out for your welcome email from us shortly.
    Close panel
    Oh, no!
    Sorry, there's been an error. If you experience persistent problems, please contact us at whichuniversity@which.co.uk
    Try again

    Search Which? University

    Find further advice or search for information on a course or university

    Expert tips for uni - straight to your inbox
    Free to students, teachers and parents
    Sign me up