Getting started with student finance

three graduating students walking away

Thinking of heading off to uni in September, but not sure how to sort your finances? We’re here to help you apply for a Student Finance loan so you can study stress-free (well, at least financially stress-free!).

What support does student finance offer?

There are two forms of help if you decide to study a degree at college or university. The Tuition Fee Loan is paid directly to your uni and you can apply for up to the maximum, £9,250 (2017 figures). The Maintenance Loan is help towards the costs of living, such as rent, food, travel and course equipment. This is based on your household income.

Am I a dependant or independent student?

Student Finance will see most students as dependent and household income determine how much money you’ll receive. However, in some cases, you may be assessed as an Independent student. This is usually:

  • If you are a parent
  • If you are over 25
  • If you are married
  • If you have no living parents
  • If you have supported yourself for at least three years before starting your course
  • If you are estranged and have no contact with family

You can find out more about Independent status here.

When and how do I apply for student finance?

You can find out online how to apply for student finance whether you’re in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Apply as early as possible, even if you have not yet decided your firm choice, because you can amend these details later. The application process opens in late February/early March and the deadline is usually around the end of May. After this date you can still get Student Finance, but it may not arrive in time for the start of your course.

What will student finance ask for when I apply?

Student Finance will ask for your personal details (where you live, your age etc.) your National Insurance number, bank account details and passport number, so have these handy when completing the application, although you can save it and return back later. They will ask for your parents’ details including other children that live at home and household income.

When and how will I get paid?

Student Finance will send you an award letter, which you should check, sign and date so you can return to them. When you enrol on your course, your university will confirm that you have registered and Student Finance will release payment. Your Maintenance Loan will be paid direct to your account usually in three instalments at the start of each term. Your first instalment will be paid in October, your second in January and your last in April. Your Tuition Fee is paid straight to your university.

Is there other financial support I can apply for?

Check with your uni to see whether they offer any scholarships or bursaries you may be able to apply for in addition to your Maintenance Loan to help with your living costs. They may also offer a Hardship Fund to help if you find that you still do not have enough money to live on.

What if I don’t live in England?

Student Finance England (SFE) provides the support to students who either live in England or are European students applying for the Tuition Fee. The application process is different if you’re a student from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.


Don’t forget, resident students of Scotland still get FREE degrees. So, if you’re Scottish, and you want to save money on your degree, stay exactly where you are. Check out a few things to consider, in this article.

More information

  • The Student Room is the largest student community in the world with a range of online resources to help you get through university.
  • Go to Money Advice Service for free and impartial money advice.