Your Maintenance Loan is the way most students will get most of their money, to pay their living costs and get them through university.
But how does it all work? How much can you get? And how long will it take to pay it all back? Read on to find out more.
Most students will choose to pay for the costs of going to University by taking out a student loan with the Student Finance Company. In short, your Student Loan includes both your Tuition Fee Loan and/or your Maintenance Loan. Your Maintenance Loan is to help with your rent and living costs, and your Tuition Fee Loan is used for your University Course Fees.
Like any loan, Student Loans will have to be paid back, but only once you have finished uni, and you are earning over a minimum repayment threshold. Maintenance Loans & Tuition Fee Loans are technically two separate types of funding, but when you come to pay them back, the two will be brought together into single payments.
Maintenance Loans help pay towards your living costs, such as rent, utilities, food, books, travel, nights out, clothes, and everything else you make it stretch to. The amount you receive often varies, depending on where you are from, how much your parents earn, and where you will be studying.
There’s a few factors that come into play when finding out if you are eligible for a Maintenance Loan, and how much you can borrow? To find out your eligibility, prospective students need to answer a series of questions set by Student Finance about their age, where you are from, whether you have studied before, and how much your parents earn.
Sounds a bit scary eh, but don’t worry, it’s not all bad news. In fact the majority of students who apply for a maintenance loan, will receive funding to help them through their time at uni. As always though, best to confirm your eligibility with
authority themselves to check if you qualify.
The course you plan to study must be at an eligible uni or college in the UK. The good news is, that’s the majority of universities in the country. Simply put, most undergraduate courses are eligible for funding.
To be precise, your course has to be recognised by the government as one of the following: first degree (e.g. BA, BSc, or BEd), foundation degree, Certificate of Higher Education, Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND), Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE), Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE), integrated master's, Initial Teacher Training (ITT).
Hoping to study a healthcare degree for a future working in the NHS? The rules do differ, and you might be able to find some alternative funding. Read our
NHS Bursary Guide here
Usually, you can only get student finance on your first degree or higher education qualification. Funding is available for the full length of your first course, plus one extra year. This extra year is a safety net for those of you that have a change of heart and drop out of uni, or you decide to change your course, or you have to re-sit a year.
If you have studied before, whether it was a long time ago, if your course was abroad, or even if your previous course was self-funded, you might have some troubles getting a student loan, and will likely have to cover some or all of the costs yourself.
There are exceptions to the rule though. There is a possibility of getting funding for your second degree, if you are studying an exception course such as Nursing, Midwifery or Teaching.
Luckily, there are barely any age related restrictions on eligibility for a Maintenance Loan. The only differences in how your loan is calculated and what you may receive, might apply for the over 60s or over 25s. Students above these ages will still receive funding, the application process is slightly different.
Your nationality, residency status and address history may affect if you can apply and the funding you can get. To guarantee your eligibility for full support, both a maintenance loan and a tuition fee loan, all of these three things must apply to you.
You must be a UK national, an Irish citizen, or have ‘settled status’.
You must have your home in the UK, so you must live and work here.
And you have been living in the UK for 3 years before starting your course
The amount you receive for your Maintenance Loan will often vary between you and your friends. It will depend on things like where you are from, where you will be studying, and how much your parents earn.
Where are you from?
Your Maintenance Loan is provided to you by the funding organisation in the part of the UK that you normally live, not where you will be studying.
Living at home while at uni?
If you are studying in England, Wales & Northern Ireland, there tends to be less funding for students living at home while at uni. What with smaller costs of living, this makes sense. So you’ll receive more funding if you are studying away from home, and usually even more funding if you live in London.
Your parents’ household income if you are a dependent student.
Your maintenance loan is means tested, with an aim of supporting individuals that come from less well off backgrounds. Students with parents who earn a higher income will receive less funding. Students who come from poorer backgrounds receive more generous funding to help get them through uni.
Once you have submitted your loan application, you’ll receive a Student Finance Entitlement letter in the post, telling you details about how much student finance you can get, and when your loan will get paid to yourself and your university. To confirm the amount you are hoping to receive, check directly with the Student Finance authority in the part of the UK that you normally live.
As with everything else, the dates when your Maintenance Loan lands in your account will depend on which part of the UK you're from and when your uni's term officially starts.
Student Maintenance Loan Dates in
, are almost always paid in 3 instalments throughout the year at the start of each term. Typically, it will land in your account on the first day of term set by your university.
If you’re from
though, things are a little bit different and your loan lands into your account on the 7th of each month.
Maintenance loans are paid directly into your
student bank account
. This is different from a Tuition Fee Loan which is paid directly to your University to cover your course fees.
The Student Finance Entitlement letter you receive, before you start at uni, will tell you how much you will receive, and when your loan instalments will be paid into your
. You’re nearly always paid in 3 instalments every year, usually at the start of each term.
Remember to make sure you are registered at your University! If you don’t you might not receive your loan for your tuition fees and your maintenance fees. Trust us, we have heard many stories of people not receiving their loans on time, and some not receiving anything at all. It’s actually the worst, we don’t need to explain that one for you. Get all your paperwork sorted early, and you’ll avoid any nightmares.
The simplest way for students to apply in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland is to send in your application online. You can create an account there and then, check in on any updates as they happen, and get an idea of the full details of your maintenance and tuition fee loans.
As we’ve mentioned before, you will always apply for funding with the Student Finance body from the part of the UK you normally live in back at home, not the part of the UK that you’ll be moving to study in.
Click here to find the Student Finance
organisation that is right for you, and information on how to apply.
The earliest you’ll start repaying your loan is April, once you have finished your course. You’ll also only ever repay your student loan when your income is over the threshold amount for your repayment plan.
How much you repay, the interest that is applied to what you borrow, whether it will get written off or not, and everything else is a little complicated. We’ve put together a full Student Loans Guide for you to understand anything and everything you need. Click here to find out more about
Student Loan Repayments
So that’s everything you need to know about your Student Maintenance Loan. Things do change all the time though, so we always recommend best to check with your Student Finance funding body to confirm details of your loan. Here’s a few links to get any questions you might have answered.
We hope you've got a bit more of an idea on your Student Maintenance Loan. If you’re looking for more advice and information on Student Finance, check out our
Student Finance Guide
. If you're wondering how renting as a student works, and what your Maintenance Loan will go towards, check out our
Student Guide To Renting