Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Public services all in one place

Main menu

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Student finance: an introduction

If you’re going into higher education, you can get financial support from the government. Apply through the Student Finance England service.

Student finance: help with the costs of higher education

Don't wait until you've been offered a place on a course to find out what student finance you could get. If you're planning to study full-time, use the Student Finance Calculator to get an estimate in advance.

You should apply as early as possible - then you can get on with planning your time at university or college.

Full-time students: do it online

Apply for finance online

Apply now for 2009/10 - or if you're a new student starting in 2010/11

Applying for student finance

You can currently apply for the 2009/10 academic year - or for 2010/11, if you're a new student.

For students continuing their studies in 2010/11, applications will open in early 2010.

To apply online for full-time finance, or support an online application, you must first register with Student Finance England.

As well as applying for student finance, you can use your online account to:

  • contact Student Finance England by email
  • keep your bank details and contact details up to date
  • keep track of any letters and statements you have been sent
  • see payments that have been sent to your bank account

Help for full-time students

If you’re studying full-time, the main sources of help are:

  • student loans and grants from the government
  • bursaries from your university or college

Student loans from the government

All eligible students can get help with tuition fees and living costs through student loans.

You’ll be able to take out two student loans per academic year:

  • a Tuition Fee Loan - to cover your tuition fees in full
  • a Maintenance Loan - to help with accommodation and other living costs (how much you get depends on your household income)

Repaying student loans

Student loans have to be paid back - but you don’t have to start making repayments until you’ve left your course and are earning over £15,000.

Once your earnings reach this threshold, you’ll pay back nine per cent of whatever you earn over £15,000. If you’re due to start paying back your student loans from April 2012, you’ll have the option of taking a one or two-year repayment break.

Grants to help with living costs: Maintenance Grant and Special Support Grant

For 2010/11, around 40 per cent of new students are expected to qualify for the full Maintenance Grant, with many more getting a partial grant. Certain groups of students can get the Special Support Grant instead of the Maintenance Grant.


Bursaries are an additional source of help from your university or college. Institutions in England must offer at least a minimum bursary payment if you’re paying maximum tuition fees and getting the full Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant.

Grants and bursaries don’t have to be repaid.

Extra help

You may qualify for extra help on top of student loans, grants and bursaries if you’re disabled, or you have a mental health condition or specific learning difficulty. And students with a child or an adult dependant may qualify for an additional grant or allowance.

More about finance for full-time students

Follow the link below for a more detailed guide to what’s available.

Part-time students

Fee Grant and Course Grant

The main sources of financial help for part-time students are usually different from those available to full-time students.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to apply for the part-time Fee Grant and Course Grant. How much you can get depends on your household income and personal circumstances.

Extra help

You may qualify for extra help if you’re disabled, or you have a mental health condition or specific learning difficulty.

See ‘Finance for part-time students - applying for the first time’ for a more detailed guide to what’s available.

Initial Teacher Training, social work and NHS courses

The sources of financial help available may be different for certain NHS healthcare, social work and Initial Teacher Training courses.

Not sure if you’re eligible?

Not everyone is eligible for student finance.

It depends on whether you and your course meet certain conditions. For example, eligibility can be affected by the country you’ve been living in - and your course must lead to a recognised higher education qualification.

See ‘Eligibility for student finance’ if you’re not sure.

Not from England?

This page is a guide to the financial help available to students from England.

The package of help available - and how you apply for it - is likely to be different if you live outside England.

Access keys