Applying for Student Finance is one of the most tedious tasks imaginable, but unfortunately if you don’t happen to have over £12,000 a year to spare it’s very important. The application process can seem confusing so we’ve put together a handy guide to clear things up. In England applications are currently open to all full-time students for the 2016 to 2017 academic year. So, what do you need to know?
WHAT IS A STUDENT LOAN?
A student loan is a sum of money which university students can apply for to cover their educational expenses. A student loan has to be paid back (such a shame), but not until you graduate and are earning a certain salary. Find out more about loan repayment here.
What are educational expenses? Educational expenses include the cost of tuition as well as living costs such as accommodation. There are two types of student loan you can apply for: a tuition loan and a maintenance loan. Whilst a tuition loan is paid directly to your university, a maintenance loan is paid into your personal bank account in three installments. Use the student finance calculator to get an estimate of the student finance you're eligible for.
Grants and Bursaries: In previous years students were able to apply for a maintenance grant (a sum of money which does not need to be paid back) dependent on household income. Maintenance grants were recently scrapped by the government. However if you think you will need further financial support, don’t worry as there are other options available. For example, most universities offer bursaries to students with a household income below a threshold and to students who achieve certain a-level grades so make sure you look into this.
HOW TO APPLY FOR STUDENT FINANCE
If you live in England and this is your first time going to university you will need to apply online to Student Finance England. To apply you have to set up a student finance account and complete an online application here (Tip: Make a note of your login details!). Whilst it is a little time consuming, help and guidance is provided throughout so the process is fairly straightforward.
What information will I be required to enter?
You will be asked to give personal information including your course details and household income, so it is likely that you will need a parent or guardian to go through it with you. Here is some of the key information you’ll need when completing your application:
- Passport details
- University course details
- Bank account number and sort code
- National insurance number
- Financial information
- Household income (make sure this is accurate - your funding could be stopped if it is found to be incorrect)
After submitting your application you will be sent a loan declaration in the post which you need to sign and return. Your application will be assessed by the Student Loans Company and you will receive a letter detailing how much funding you are entitled to. You can also check this information on your online account.
Note: The application process is different if you’re from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. See the links at the bottom of this article for more information.
When is the Student Finance Deadline?
Late application = late payment
It’s important to make sure you are organised and leave yourself plenty of time to get your application sorted before the deadline. Failing to do so will delay the process and could result in you not receiving your loan on time. We’ve all heard the horror stories of students not receiving their loan payments and whilst living off of Sainsbury’s basics is the norm (with or without a loan) there are some costs that can’t be cut down.
The student finance deadline is 9 months after the first day of the month that your course started (e.g. if your course started on 20 September, it would be 31 May). If you’re a new full-time student it is recommended that you apply before 27 May in order to start receiving payments when you begin your course.
APPLYING FOR STUDENT FINANCE: USEFUL INFORMATION
- To apply for a student loan you don’t need to have a confirmed place - so don’t wait until you receive your a-level results!
- Use the following links for student finance information if you are a student from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
- Print off and sign the declaration form yourself - it will save time (as opposed to waiting for them to send it to you)
- Make sure you enter your bank details correctly - or you won’t receive your money!
- If you have any further questions check out this student finance A-Z or contact student finance directly here.