Quick guide to student finance if you're from Wales
Student finance for Welsh students is changing. Read our guide to what loans and grants are on the table, whether you're studying in Wales or elsewhere in the UK...
Whether you’re studying in Wales or further afield, Student Finance Wales handle everything relating to student finance for Welsh students. Make sure you apply for finance early on to guarantee it arrives by the start of term. While the 2018/19 deadline for new students has not been confirmed, the deadline for 2017/18 was 12 May 2017. Remember, you can apply for student finance up to nine months after the beginning of your course.
Not from Wales but studying at a Welsh university? Learn about financial support for tuition fees and living costs if you're from England, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Tuition fees and loansWelsh students can be charged up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees by universities and colleges in Wales for a full-time degree course. However, if you’re studying in England, Northern Ireland or Scotland, the maximum fee rises to £9,250 a year.
You can take out a Tuition Fee Loan to cover your tuition fees. This is paid directly to your institution; so you don’t have to worry too much about finding the money for your tuition fees upfront.
The Tuition Fee Loan isn’t income-assessed, and is only repaid once you’ve graduated and you’re earning above a certain threshold amount (see more about this below).
According to Student Finance Wales, if your tuition fees are more than the Tuition Fee Loan available (eg you’re applying to study at a privately funded university or college), you’ll need to make up the difference – this is where you might want to seek out bursaries or other scholarships your university offers.
What about my living costs?There are several options available to you to help with living costs while at university, such as your accommodation, books, travel, or specialist course equipment (and maybe a night out here or there too); in particular, a Maintenance Grant and a Maintenance Loan.
The following is in accordance with recent announcements by the Welsh Government to provide Welsh students (beginning in 2018/19) the equivalent of the National Living Wage while studying, regardless of whether they’re studying at a Welsh institution or elsewhere in the UK.
Maintenance GrantAll eligible students can claim a minimum £1,000 grant to assist with the living costs of going to university. This is regardless of household income, nor does this have to be paid back.
Students from lower income households will be eligible to receive higher grants based on this. The maximum amount available (for students from households with an income of £18,370 or less) will be £10,124 for Welsh students studying in London and £8,100 for those studying in the rest of the UK. The Welsh Government estimate that this will account for ⅓ of all full-time students.
These higher grants will be means-tested in order to assess how much students should receive, so they have the appropriate support. Again, this does not have to be paid back.
Maintenance LoanYou can also apply for a Maintenance Loan to top up what you receive in grants. This will need to be paid back later and is also means-tested.
Example of what you could receive
So to confirm, what you’ll receive in grants and loans will depend on:
- household income
- whether you’re living at home or not while studying
- if living away from home, whether this is in London or elsewhere in the UK
According to official statistics, the average household income in Wales is £25,000. A student from this household would receive the following, depending on their study circumstances:
- living at home: £5,940 in grant, £1,720 in loan
- living away from home, studying outside London: £6,947 in grant, £2,053 in loan
- living away from home, studying in London: £8,643 in grant, £2,607 in loan
However, you’ll always be eligible for more in maintenance support if you’re living away from home in London (£11,250), than if you were living elsewhere in the UK (£9,000) or with your parents (£7,650). The only thing that household income affects is the grant:loan ratio which makes up this total.
This is just a rough guide; see what you can get on the Student Finance Wales website.
Wipe money off your maintenance loan…All students who took out a maintenance loan from Student Finance Wales in 2010/11 or later can cancel up to £1,500 of their loan, after their first repayment.
The actual amount deducted will depend on how much your first repayment is (£5 minimum), how much maintenance loan you received and the outstanding balance of your loan at the time of your first repayment. This is a one-time cancellation only.
Learn more about the partial cancellation of your student loan debt, including how much can be deducted.
Extra grantsThere are a number of further, non-repayable grants available depending on individual circumstances. Part-time students should note that course intensity (i.e. the % of time spent studying compared to a student on an equivalent full-time course) may factor into how much you can get.
Here’s a quick rundown of what you could receive:
Childcare grant (CCG)What and who’s eligible? To cover cost of childcare (up to 85% of the total cost).
How much can you get? £161.50 a week maximum for one child, £274.55 max. for two or more children. Part-time students will receive slightly less.
Any conditions? Amount depends on household income, children and other dependants. Students who receive the tax credits or grants listed here may not qualify.
Parents’ Learning Allowance (PLA)What and who’s eligible? To help with course costs if you have dependent children.
How much can you get? £1,557 per year maximum for full-time students, £1,167.75 max. for part-time students.
Adults Dependants’ Grant (ADG)What and who’s eligible? If you have a partner or another adult financially dependent on you.
How much can you get? £2,732 per year maximum for full-time students, £2,049 for part-time students.
Any conditions? You can only apply for this once. The dependent adult in question must not be earning an income over £3,923.
Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs)What and who’s eligible? To cover any additional study-related costs you may incur because of your disability; this can include a mental health condition or specific learning difficulty too.
How much can you get? This depends on the type of support you need. For full-time students, a general allowance of £1,785 per year maximum is available. See more about what’s available depending on support.
Learn more about these grants on the Student Finance Wales website.
Is there any other support I can get from my university?Extra money you never need to pay back is also on offer directly from universities or colleges. These are awarded for lots of different reasons – from personal circumstances to academic achievement.
Contact your university’s Student Support Services department (or equivalent) for more information.
Student loan repaymentsThe Welsh repayment system works the same way as it does in England – learn more here about what you’ll pay and when.
Note, the repayment threshold will be increasing from April 2018; this means you won't start paying back your student loan until you're earning more than has been the case until now.