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Student Finance for UK students studying in the UK

Article outlining the student finance system for UK students attending UK universities.
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© University of Reading

It’s very normal to have worries about the financial cost of your young person going to university. Most students don’t have enough savings to pay for their time at university and rely on student loans which are there to help make sure that financial reasons don’t restrict anyone’s access.

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This article explains the Student Finance system in the UK and you have to be resident in the UK to be eligible for a loan. International students will need to look into the system of university financing that’s relevant in their country of residence, even if they’re coming to a UK university.

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UK government loans are split into two main categories:

  1. Tuition Fees Loan
  2. Maintenance Loan

Tuition Fees Loans

Many parents and supporters worry about the cost of university when they hear about loans and fees, but did you know that no UK student has to pay for their fees upfront? The current maximum amount a full-time course can cost (in tuition fees) at a UK university is currently £9,250 per year. All of this can be covered by the Tuition Fee Loan, which is easy to apply for, not based on parental earnings, and will be paid directly to your young person’s chosen institution once a final decision has been made.

The details of Student Finance arrangements and costs do change on a fairly regular basis, so make sure that you keep up to date with any government changes with regards to tuition and funding. Also, it’s worth taking note that there are slight regional differences. Keep up to date with Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, Northern Ireland or Student Awards Agency Scotland.

Maintenance Loans

As well as the tuition fees, you also need to consider living costs. This means paying for accommodation, bills, travel expenses, food, and other everyday things while studying. To help cover these costs, the Maintenance Loan exists. The amount you can apply for does depend on two things:

  1. Where you choose to go to university – for example, those who choose to live in London will be able to apply for slightly more money than those living elsewhere in the UK because of the higher living costs. Similarly, if your young person chooses to stay and live at home rather than moving away to university, they will be eligible for slightly less money, as living costs are likely to be slightly lower for this group.
  2. Household income – everyone eligible for student finance will be able to get some of the Maintenance loan but the total amount is based on household income.

This Maintenance loan is paid directly into the student’s bank account on a termly basis, and it’s up to them to manage this money to make sure that it covers their costs until their next instalment.

How much maintenance loan will my young person get?

In 2022/23, maximum maintenance loan amounts are detailed in the table below. Whilst a part of the loan is available to all those that are eligible for student finance, the rest is assessed on household income. The amounts in the table are the maximum amounts which are available to students with household income of £25,000 and under. The higher the household income, the less support you will be eligible for.

Living at home Living elsewhere Living away from home and in London Overseas (study overseas as part of UK course)
£8,171 £9,706 £12,667 £11,116

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If you’re worried about how much support your young person may receive, take a look at the student finance calculator to see how much they’re eligible to get. We advise talking to your young person about what finance they may need to apply for.

Scholarships, grants and bursaries

Sometimes, universities are able to offer scholarships, grants and bursaries for certain students on certain courses. These do not have to be repaid and can be used to help with living costs.

Scholarships can be given to students who achieve exceptional exam results or if they perform exceptionally in certain sports or music. Some of these are automatically given but others may need to be applied for.

Bursaries are often given because of familial circumstance, such as coming from a low-income background may mean that your young person is eligible for extra money from their preferred university. It’s worth investigating whether additional money is available, and information about this will be on the individual university websites. Universities will usually use information from your student finance application form to assess whether your young person is eligible, so it is important on the application that you consent to share information.

For students who have a disability, there may be extra funding available, so it’s worth your young person investigating eligibility on the relevant Student Finance website.

Student Finance for 2023 entry

The government has recently announced changes to the student finance system for those entering University in September 2023. Not all changes have been fully confirmed so ensure that you keep up to date for changes relating to your young person’s year of entry.

© University of Reading
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