For any prospective university student, trying to piece together how the start of your university journey will look may feel like attempting a thousand-piece jigsaw. The current economic crisis will have left many of you wondering what has changed, particularly in regard to financial help for students.
Your mind might be filled with numerous questions, much like how a cup overflows when it’s filled with too much water.
But don’t let this overwhelm you. Prospective students should not be deterred from applying to university in the UK, nor should they be put off seeking any financial support they need in the form of loans and grants. Alongside universities, the various student finance services across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have been working hard to inform students about all the financial help available.
For those of you looking to begin your university journey in 2023/24, you’ll find that the process of applying for financial assistance won’t have changed.
Below is advice for future students who will need, in light of the world financial crisis, to help make any upcoming financial decisions.
Why is Financial Help For Students Important?
Financial assistance for students is crucial in the UK as it can help alleviate the financial burden that many students face.
With the high cost of tuition fees, accommodation, and living expenses, many students struggle to make ends meet.
Financial help in the form of scholarships, bursaries, and loans can make higher education more accessible and affordable, allowing students to focus on their studies rather than worrying about their finances.
Moreover, it can also help to create a more diverse and inclusive student body by enabling students from disadvantaged backgrounds to access higher education.
Financial assistance for students plays a vital role in ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to pursue their educational goals.
How To Find Financial Help for Students?
The availability of financial help for student study has remained as it was before the economic crisis. Depending on whether you come from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, you will have different options available to you.
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Every year, approximately 1.5 million students pursuing higher education in England borrow nearly £20 billion in loans – according to a statistical report from Parliament UK.
Tuition Fee Loans
Tuition fee loans are the most commonly-used financial help among students. They allow you to borrow money in order to afford your university course. Eventually, once you enter the world of full-time employment and reach the earning threshold, you will be required to pay this back. The amount available to borrow will depend on whether you are a part-time or full-time student.
This number will also vary based on country, so where in the UK you are from will dictate how much you are allowed to borrow. Even if you are from Scotland, and choose to study in Scotland (which makes you eligible for no tuition fees), you will still have to apply to SAAS (Scotland’s Student Finance Service) in order to do so.
Applications for any student loan are done through your respective country’s Student Finance website, at either Student Finance England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.
You won’t need a confirmed offer of a place to apply either. If you don’t know your course start and end date, don’t worry. You can update this later.
Just ensure when you’re applying that you have your bank details, your National Insurance number, your passport details and the details of your household income.
Maintenance Fee Loans
On top of tuition fee loans, students can also incorporate maintenance loans as a dominant type of financial help for students. This allows you to get an extra helping hand with the living costs, as it can be difficult to earn money whilst studying. Each term you will be lent however much you are eligible to receive, unless you are in Scotland, in where you will receive your loan at the beginning of every month.
As for how much you’ll be allowed to borrow? This will depend on where you live, where you look to study, the duration of your course and the household income of either your parents or guardian. Your respective country’s Student Finance service will have the details on this across their website.
Don’t forget also that this is a loan, meaning that once you start earning above the specified repayment threshold, you will be required to pay it back. The amount that this repayment threshold sits at will vary depending on whether you’re from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.
This is an opportunity for those students eligible for further financial help to get extra funding. Student grants tend to be given out to those students who are from a lower income household, have dependent children, are disabled, mentally ill, have a long-term health condition, or are either medical students, social work students or teachers.
As for what grants are available to students, they will vary depending on where you come from and where you intend to study. Each country’s respective Student Finance service will have all of the information about grants, and who’s eligible, on their website. Applications for these grants are also done through your respective student finance website.
Bursaries and Scholarships
Bursaries and scholarships are other means by which students can be funded through their university journey. This is one of the most common ways for student finance help. Most institutions offer a range, of different scholarships applicable to different people.
Eligibility for particular scholarships will vary, as it is not a case of ‘one size fits all’. Just as is the case with grants, bursaries and scholarships don’t need to be paid back. They’re all yours to love and to hold.
If you’re thinking of applying for any scholarships, or want to learn more about any that are available and where to find them, take a peek at our piece on how to find a student scholarship.
As for further means of financial assistance, it’s also worth reaching out to the university to you are wanting to apply.
They’ll provide any additional means of financial support, along with any advice on how to budget.
Making a plan or budget as to what money you will need, for what and for how long, will be a real money saver – literally. It’s also worth doing as much research as you can on what to consider when applying for personal loans, so you are as informed as possible before making any financial decisions.
What Can I Expect From My Student Loan?
England has asked students looking to begin their course come August/September of this year to have their applications in by the end of May, with Northern Ireland setting its deadline as May 31st. Welsh students have been set a deadline of May 15th, with Scotland encouraging their students to submit an application by June 30th.
If you miss the UCAS deadline, don’t panic! In each case, you will still have up to 9 months after the start of the academic year to apply.
The student loans themselves will still be paid directly to the university, which means that if you do decide to cancel your loan later on, it’s no trouble.
You won’t have to worry about receiving the money, and then returning it should you choose to no longer study in 2023/24.
When it comes to posting any evidence, each of the student finance services across the UK has told students not to worry.
Prospective students have been reassured that no delay in the processing of their application will occur, and students are welcome to post the required evidence at a later date.
Student Grants, Bursaries and Scholarships?
When it comes to student grants and bursaries, things have stayed the same. Through your respective Student Finance centre, you will still be in a position to apply for any grants for which you meet the criteria.
As for bursaries and scholarships, any changes to these will be at the discretion of the university itself. We would recommend for any scholarships that you have applied for, intend on applying for, or have been granted, that you reach out to the institution at which you will be intending to study. They will have any information on the specific scholarship.
Financial Help For Studying Abroad in 2023/24?
If you’re still intent on studying abroad this year, you’ll naturally be wondering whether there’ll be any changes to the financial aid you’ll receive. As far as the respective Student Finance services around the UK have outlined, there have been no changes yet.
The process of applying for any tuition fee loans or maintenance loans should not be affected. You will still follow the procedure of applying for either as per usual, through your country’s Student Finance website. England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, who each have their own travel grant scheme, have not changed the ability for students to submit their applications for such financial support.
If you are a student looking to study abroad on the Erasmus+ programme, you too can still apply for a grant to cover some of your travel expenses.
Apply for such travel grants, this can be done through your country’s Student Finance website. If you are going to be on the Erasmus+ scheme, you can apply for funding through your home university, usually via the study abroad office.
We would advise, just as with any loans you are applying for, to get these applications in as soon as possible. This way, you will spend less time waiting and will be afforded more time to plan for the months ahead.
Given the uncertainty in regard to international travel for the remainder of the year, we suggest that you reach out as often as you can to your home university. They will be best equipped to keep you informed with any updates about your year abroad, what changes will occur, and whether you will still be able to study abroad in 2023/24.
The Student Finance services across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are all encouraging any prospective students to continue with their applications as usual. The faster your application can be processed, the better position you will be in to make any changes on the back of how the upcoming months unfold.
Prospective university students should feel reassured that financial assistance is still available to help support them through their studies. While the economic crisis has caused uncertainty in many areas of life, the various student financial services and universities are working hard to ensure students remain informed about the help on offer.
For those looking to start university in 2023/24, the process for applying for loans, grants, bursaries and scholarships remains unchanged. Students should continue with their applications as early as possible through their respective student finance websites. The sooner the application is processed, the more prepared students will feel for the year ahead, regardless of any changes.
With different options available in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, students should make sure to check what they are eligible for based on their own circumstances. From tuition fee loans and maintenance loans to travel grants and hardship funds, financial support exists to help students from all backgrounds.
While the possibility of changes to university life and study abroad opportunities remains unclear, students should feel reassured in the knowledge that their financial support should not be affected. Universities and student financial services will continue providing updates to allow students to make informed choices about their next steps.
The current crisis may have brought feelings of uncertainty, but students should not feel deterred from following their university dreams. Where there are questions about financial support, students need only reach out to their student finance service or university for clarification and advice.
The future may not yet be set in stone, but help will always be there for those who ask for it. Students should embark on the next stage of their education knowing that they do not have to go it alone.