Student finance: five funding delays to avoid
Starting university out of pocket is a position no first-year wants to find themselves in. Apply for student finance as early as you can and avoid these five possible funding pitfalls.
1. No need to wait for offers – apply for student finance now!Post the January Ucas deadline, student finance applications open, typically from the end of January.
Don't wait around for university offers before you apply – you can apply using your preferred choice of course and then update these details later on if things change.
Set up your student finance online account – you'll need your National Insurance number handy for this - and submit an application as early as you can. Also, make sure your sponsors (usually your parents) submit their information at this same time. Once your application is submitted you can use the Application Tracking Service online to check on progress.
Tip: To ensure you receive your student finance in time for the start of term (and save any panicked calls home for an early cash injection), check with the finance body you're applying to as to the latest you should get your application in by.
2. Not having a valid passport makes applying trickierWhen applying for finance for the first time, you'll need a valid UK passport. This is the quickest way to prove your identity - all you need to do is provide your passport number as part of your online application. You won't need to send your passport unless you are asked to do so.
If your passport has expired or you don't have a UK passport, you'll need to send your original birth or adoption certificate, along with a form confirming your identity – and it could take significantly longer for your application to go through. Be sure to send this via special delivery and include your CRN number.
According to the Student Loans Company (SLC), the most common delay when applying for finance is students not sending in evidence to support their application – so if you're asked to submit evidence, make sure you do this straight away.
Tip: renewing your passport (it usually takes three weeks) could be the easiest option.
3. Check your student finance entitlement – funding isn't guaranteedYou'll only get student finance if you're doing your first degree – even if the first one was self-funded or studied abroad (the main exception to this is if you're 'topping up', moving from a foundation to an honours degree).
Your nationality or residency status affects your eligibility, too. Generally speaking, if you're a UK national or have 'settled status' and normally live in the country providing the finance, then you should qualify, but check directly with the relevant finance provider for full details on this.
Tip: don't start your studies without knowing whether you'll actually receive funding or not – if a loan isn't granted to you, you will be personally liable for the course tuition fees, and up to £9,000 is a lot of money!
4. Don't forget to send off a signed declaration
5. Register at uni to receive your funds
Tip: it's likely you'll have costs to pay before you receive your maintenance loan – for example, accommodation, course materials and initial living expenses – so bear this in mind when preparing to head off to university.
- Student finance explained for parents: what you need to know
- Bursaries and scholarships: how to find out what's available