Student loans - how to apply and how much can you borrow?

The lowdown on loans for students

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Many students worry about the cost of going to university but luckily, there is help at hand.

The Student Loans Company provides funding to students across the UK on behalf of the Government.

There is plenty of funding available to students including tuition fee loans, maintenance loans, maintenance grants and bursaries.

Any student in the UK can apply for a loan (which you have to pay back) and some students will also be eligible for additional support in the form of a grant or bursary.

Applying for a student loan can seem like a daunting task when you are just getting started but is actually very simple.

How do I apply?

All you have to do is fill out an online form with the help of your parent or guardian.

To apply for a student loan, you will need to have the following:

• UK passport number
• Bank account details
• National insurance number
• University or college course details

Applications should be completed online at www.gov.uk/studentfinance.

You do not need a confirmed university place to apply for student finance; you can enter your first choice of course, which can be updated easily at a later date.

It's important to get your completed student finance application in before the deadlines set each year. If you miss them, it's not the end of the world, but you can expect some delays in receiving your loan installments when term starts. There are different deadlines depending on the region you are applying with and remember you need to apply for every year of study.

It's important to find out what funding you are going to be eligible for – and what you will be expected to pay.

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What can I borrow?

Since 2012, students have been entitled to borrow up to £9,000 in tuition fees and £7,751 in maintenance costs (that's for things like rent, bills and textbooks) every year.

Tuition fee and maintenance loans are available to most students. Maintenance grants, which are based on your household income and do not have to be repaid, may also be available.

You are able to borrow as much or as little as you want up to that maximum amount. Some courses are cheaper than others so you can request the exact amount your course costs you. So, if you only need a few thousand for tuition fees and are living at home, you may not need a maintenance loan. This means at the end of uni you will owe a lot less.

With the recent increase in tuition fees, there is more financial support for students who need it than ever before, much of which doesn't ever need to be repaid.

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A tuition fee loan covers the full cost of your tuiton fees and is paid straight to your university.

A maintenance loan is to help with accommodation and other living costs and is paid into your bank account in 3 installments each year.

These are usually dependent on household income, but the maximum loans available vary according to your country of residence, whether you are studying in or outside of London, and whether you will be living at home or in student accommodation.

You can also apply for a partial maintenance loan which doesn't depend on your household income information – this means you can apply without your parents or partner having to send in any details of their income.

In England, if your family's household income falls below £42,620, you have been a UK citizen for the last three years and your course lead to a recognised qualification then you can apply for a maintenance grant, which you will never ever have to pay back.

To be considered for a maintenance grant you must simply choose to be income assessed when you apply for student finance.

The DirectGov website states that your student maintenance loan will be cut if you receive a grant. You will lose 50p of your maintenance loan for every £1 you receive as a grant.

You will be eligible to apply for a special support grant if you are a single parent, your partner is also at university, you have a disability or if you claim or are eligible for income support or housing support.

The main difference between a maintenance grant and a special support grant is that you are still able to claim the whole amount of your maintenance loan as opposed to it getting cut 50p for every £1.

You could also be eligible for a travel grant if you travel to a hospital as part of your medical, nursing etc. course, you travel abroad to study for at least 50% of the term, you are in full-time university education or if you are receiving income based support.

If you have a disability then you may be eligible for extra funding whilst studying at university. There are a large number of disabilities covered including mental health conditions and dyslexia.

If you are studying towards a medical degree or something similar then you may be able to claim a bursary through the NHS. It applies for social work, medicine, dentistry, or healthcare like nursing.

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If you are looking into becoming a teacher then you can apply for the same grants, bursaries and funding as everyone else. However, you may also be eligible for some student finance through a teacher training course.

If you run into money and finance troubles while you are at university then there is an access to learning fund that you can apply for through all universities and colleges in England.

The fund is there to help students who are in a bad debt situation and need money to help them carry on their studies to the end.

Student bursaries, scholarships and awards are also given out by universities, colleges, local charities and educational trusts.

These are paid in addition to your other loans and you do not have to pay it back at any point.

You are eligible for a scholarship or bursary if you fit the criteria of the charity or university for a particular bursary or scholarship or if it is potentially open to everyone. The amount you can get varies hugely.

The National Scholarship Programme is also available. This was introduced to encourage students from poorer backgrounds to still go to university despite the huge rise in fees. It won't affect any of your other student loan or student grant entitlements.

A grant as something offered by student finance or a finance institution to as many people who can reach the criteria. A bursary or scholarship is offered by universities, colleges and charities to only a select number of students who meet the criteria.

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So, just to re-cap, here is a table with everything you need to know about student loans:
Type of FinanceHow much can I get?What else should I know?
Tuition Fee LoanUp to £9,000You're guaranteed to get a loan that covers all your tuition fees, if you want it.
Maintenance LoanUp to £7,751 in London, or £5,551 anywhere elseMaintenance Loans are tiered depending on a variety of circumstances, including household income and location.
Maintenance GrantUp to £3,387A Maintenance Grant is tiered depending on your parent's income.
BursariesNo set amountThis depends on what you have applied for.


Visit www.slc.co.uk or www.studentfinanceengland.co.uk for more information and follow Student Finance England on social media for application information and updates: facebook.com/SFEngland and twitter.com/SFEngland. Student Finance England's helpline is open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm every weekday and 9am to 5.30pm at weekends on 0845 300 50 90.

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