Get through that first term with student finance

Headed to Uni for the first time? Ani Bailey, Student Advisor- Finance and Accommodation at Ravensbourne College, gets honest about the world of student finance.

You finally have your uni place! You’re off to the world of 9am lectures, Fresher’s week and managing your own money. Often for the very first time. As part of Money for Life’s #HeyFresher campaign, we thought we’d answer some of those burning money-related questions.

When will my cash be released?

For most of you, the first instalment (remember, Student Finance is paid in three termly instalments), is paid once you have returned your signed declaration and uni has confirmed your registration and attendance. This usually happens after enrolment you’ll probably see this payment within 3 working days.

What happens if I decide to drop out?

It isn’t unusual to start a course at uni and decide that it might not be for you after all. We always suggest that you don’t make a sudden decision without getting further advice first. If you do make the decision to withdraw altogether or suspend until a later date (called deferring) here is what you should do:

  • Speak to an adviser at your uni – discuss the reasons for leaving can it be resolved?
  • If you decide to leave, contact Student Finance and let them know, so they can stop any future payments being made to you or the university.
  • Make a plan. Take some time, take stock and figure out what to do next.

When will I repay my student loan?

If your course is full time, you’ll be due to start repaying your Student Loan the April after you finish. If you’re a part-time student, the April 4 years after the start of your course, or the April after you finish, whichever comes first. Whether you start to repay your Student Loan depends on what you do after you leave uni.

After university:

If you are employed and earning over £21,000* a year, monthly repayments will be taken from your salary.

If you are employed and earning under £21,000* a year, you won’t need to make repayments but will have to apply for a deferral form each year.

If you are self-employed and earning over £21,000* a year, you will make repayments when you pay your tax.

If you are unemployed and in receipt of benefits, you won’t have to repay but will have to apply for a deferral form each year.

*this is subject to change

When I leave uni I will have a huge debt to repay. Is it worth it?

Others, including family and friends will have opinions, but ultimately, it has to be your decision. Remember, there are many others thinking the same thing. Do you see the Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance Loan as a debt or an investment? Does your future career actually need a degree?

Weigh up the pros and cons. You don’t repay the loan until you earn at least £21,000. However, you’ll pay interest on the loan – so you’ll pay back more than you originally borrowed. As the money is taken automatically from your account each month, it may not feel like you’re losing out on a lot.

What if I decide not to go to uni at all?

If you decide that uni isn’t right for you, explore other options. Why not do something totally different? Here are some other things you could consider:

Share your views! How is it going managing your finances? Let us know whether you found receiving your loan a breeze or more of a storm. Where did you go for help? What do you wish you had known to make it a bit easier? Let us know at #HeyFresher

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.