Student finance: everything you need to know about maintenance loans and support grants

STUDENTS can get extra loans and grants alongside the ones that pay for tuition to help with the cost of living while at university.

You'll most likely have two loans during your time studying, one to pay your institution and one for day to day costs.

You won't really see any of your tuition loan which is the one that pays for the up to £9,250 course fees each year, as this is usually paid straight to your university and doesn't even enter your bank account.

You still have to pay it back though just like any other loan you might take out in life.

As well as this, most students will receive a maintenance loan.

There are other ways to get extra money too, through support grants as well as scholarships or bursaries.

These will be less money and it's usually appointed on merit or a means-tested basis.

Either can help pay for things such as rent, food, books, travel, and other expenses that aren't your tuition fees.

The pandemic has changed the way universities teach so if your course will mostly involve online learning and you don't leave home next term, you’ll still be able to get the full loans that you qualify for.

They'll be paid as normal so long as your uni or college confirms your registration and attendance.

What is a maintenance loan?

The maintenance loan will probably be your main source of cash while you're at uni as there isn't much time to fit in a job to earn enough to cover things like rent otherwise.

The maintenance loan is means tested so you need to provide details of your families income as well as where you'll be living whilst you study.

This is so everyone can be offered a fair amount of money.

If you are part of a low-income household you'll likely get a bit more in your maintenance loan as those with higher earning parents are expected to receive some support from them.

You can apply for a maintenance loan online or by post and you have up to nine months after the start of the academic year for your course to apply.

If you're new to uni this year you can apply now and returning students will have already received contact from Student finance England about reapplying for the maintenance loan.

Student Finance England pays any maintenance loan you can get directly into your bank account, in three instalments.

So you'll usually see a large lump sum given at the start of each term which for this year will be September 2021, January 2022 and April 2022.

You can to reapply for it each year too to cover any changes in circumstances that may have occurred.

How much can I get in a maintenance loan?

How much you can get in the maintenance loan depends on when you started your course, where you live, and your household income.

You can update any changes in your online account at any time.

UCAS says that if you're living at home the maximum maintenance loan you can get for this coming year's course is up to £7,987.

If you're studying in London, and not living with parents you can get up to £12,382 from September and if you're studying outside London, and not living with parents it'll be up to £9,488.

If you're set to study abroad when the new term rolls around then you could get up to £10,866.

If you're about to start final year in September then you will get slightly less than these amounts if you're living away from home.

Up to £910 less if you're away from home in London, up to £515 less anywhere else in the UK, and up to £1140 less if you'll be living abroad.

What is a support grant and how much can you get?

You can't get maintenance grants or special support grants when you start uni any more.

You used to be able to get the extra income if you were on housing or income support, are a single parent or have a disability, you'll be eligible for the Special Support Grant.

If you started your course between September 1 2012 and July 31 2016, the full grant that is available is:

  • £3,081 for the 2020/21 academic year
  • £3,919 for the 2021/22 academic year

For new students though, you can still get financial support by scholarships which are awarded based on your academic achievements or abilities.

This will often cover all of your tuition fees for one year or more.

You might also be entitled to a bursary as some Universities offer these in the form of a pre-paid debit card for students from low-income households to use to pay for extra costs of living.

Do I have to pay them back?

You will have to repay your maintenance loans eventually.

Like any loan you borrow, you'll need to pay it back, but not until you’ve finished or left your course, and your income is over the repayment threshold.

The current repayment threshold for UK graduates from England and Wales is £26,575 a year or £2,214 a month or £511 a week before tax.

So if you earn over this you'll have to start paying the loan back.

It's not interest free either so you'll have to pay at least 2.6% when you're earning over the threshold but under £47,835.

If you earn over that interest is 5.6%.

Martin Lewis' MoneySavingExpert has a handy calculator that you can use to work out the repayments over time as well as your tuition fee repayments too.

You do not have to pay back the support grant though, but any funds you get will reduce the full amount of maintenance loan you can get at the time.

You won't have to pay back a scholarship or bursary either.

It's also worth noting that if you've popped down any details incorrectly about where you may be living, you’ll need to repay any funding you’re overpaid.

You are supposed to update Student Finance with all your information any time circumstances change.

Sorting out your finances for uni can be daunting so we've got the low down on everything you need to know about student loans including which dates you can expect your payments.

You can get extra free cash from some banks when you're a student too, it's usually part of their joining bonuses.

Martin Lewis explains how to check if you’re due £100s back in student loan overpayments too.

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