Student Finance


Cost of Higher Education

Most higher education courses charge tuition fees which are reinvested into the institution providing the course and are used for teaching, facilities and student support.

The maximum fee an institution can charge is currently £9250 per year, however this is not fixed and could rise in subsequent years - course fees are dependent on the course type and institution so it is important to check with each individual course being considered.

Higher Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships do not charge a tuition fee as this is met by the government and the training provider. Apprenticeships also pay students a fee whilst they are completing it, the minimum wage for an apprentice is £3.50 per hour but apprentices who are over 19 or have completed the first year of their apprenticeship will be paid more.

Support with Student Finance

Although most HE courses charge tuition fees, students are not expected to pay anything up front and there is support available. Student Finance England are the organisation who provide student loans, to cover both the cost of tuition and the living costs associated with being a student.

What support is available?

There are two main elements to student finance:

Tuition Fee Loan - This is a loan to cover the cost of tuition and it is paid directly to the university or college, meaning there is no requirement to pay any money upfront. All students are eligible for the full amount of loan to cover their tuition fees.

Maintenance Loan - This loan is to cover the living costs associated with studying. This is a means-tested loan, and therefore the amount students receive will depend on your household income and factors such as whether or not they choose to move out.

As well as the two main elements mentioned above, there is additional finance available for students with disabilities, those with adult or child dependants and those who are married. Individual universities or colleges may also offer support with bursaries or scholarships. Students should speak to the institution they are applying to study at to see if there is anything available based on the course they are studying and their own circumstances.

Who is eligible for student finance?

To apply for student finance you must

  • Be a UK national/have settled status
  • Have lived in the UK for 3 years prior to the first day of the course you will study

There are other criteria that can be viewed on the Student Finance website.

How to Apply

Students must apply online before the deadline (they don’t need a confirmed place on a course – they can use the details of their first choice of course). If plans change once the application is made they can log in to their account and change the details.

There are also paper application forms available, or students can call student finance if they’d like to apply but cannot use a computer without help.

Students will need:

  • Proof of identity
  • Parents/Partners NI number
  • Sometimes additional documentation is requested

What will be asked of you?

Once the student has sent off their application you will be sent an email asking you to confirm your income. You will need to provide details of your income from the tax year 19/20 if they’re applying to start their course in 2021. You will receive instruction on how to submit details of your income and any evidence you may be required to submit.  


Students are not asked to begin repaying their loan until they’ve completed or left the course and earn £27,295 per year or more. Repayments are based on what the student earns, not what they owe so they aren’t penalised for studying longer courses.

Students will repay 9% of any earnings over £27,295. See our worked example below:

Salary= £30,000

9% of £2,705 = £243 per annum which is £20 per month


Annual Salary

Monthly Repayment

Up to £27,295








Any outstanding amounts are written off 30 years after they became eligible for repayment.

From September 2023 Onwards 

For students taking student for courses starting in September 2023 onwards the repayment threshold is £25,000 which is frozen until 2026/27. Repayment is still taken at 9% of anything earned above this threshold and any outstanding amounts are written off after 40 years


Interest is charged on loans from the day the first payment is made, until the loan is repaid in full or cancelled. The interest applied is based on the UK Retail Price Index (RPI) and the student’s circumstances, you can find out more information here.