Where can my young person apply for student finance?
UK-based students can apply for their undergraduate loan through the government website: for students based in the devolved nations, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, there are links from here to each region’s relevant student finance site.
However, if your young person is planning to study in the UK as an international or EU student, it’s best to research what options are available depending on your personal situation and nationality. The UCAS website explains what options are available.
What do I need to know about UK student finance?
Student finance for UK-based students typically involves two loans: the tuition fee loan, which covers the course costs, and the maintenance loan, which covers your young person’s living expenses. The tuition fee loan will cover the entire course costs, regardless of household income, whereas the amount your young person will get for their maintenance loan can vary.
All eligible students are entitled to the minimum (or ‘basic’) maintenance loan rate. However, depending on your household income and the relevant threshold – which changes whether your young person is studying in London or not, or whether they are living at home for the course of their degree – your young person may be eligible for a means-tested higher rate of student loan. You can calculate how much your young person is likely to get with the government’s finance calculator.
If you’re based in Wales or Northern Ireland, your young person may also be eligible for a means-tested maintenance grant.
What do I need to do as a parent/guardian?
If your young person is based in England and chooses to apply for a maintenance loan based on household income, Student Finance England will email you within 24 hours of your young person submitting an application. You’ll need to set up an account for yourself, enter your National Insurance number and personal income; if you live with a partner, they will receive a separate email asking them to do the same thing.
Student Finance England may request evidence of household income and marital status if the details submitted don’t match HRMC’s records; they will specify which specific documents are needed. It’s best to upload these as soon as possible, as it takes approximately 6-8 weeks to process applications, and your young person could receive their loan late.
Devolved administrations have similar processes, which you can learn more about at the relevant sites for means-testing finance in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Additionally, student accommodation will typically require someone over the age of 25 to act as a guarantor; this is usually a parent or guardian. The agreed guarantor will take joint financial responsibility for the student’s tenancy – and if a student is unable to pay their rent, the guarantor will be required to do this. All students booking directly with Unite Students are required to agree a guarantor – the process for agreeing to be a guarantor is outlined in our Help section.
Does the maintenance loan cover everything?
The maintenance loan may not be enough to cover all your young person’s costs, so it’s worth looking at the cost of accommodation in their city as a starting point to see how likely it is that your young person will be able to get by on the amount of maintenance loan they receive. Remember, private rental prices often won’t include bills or a deposit in the stated amount – so this will need to be factored in if your young person is planning to live in a privately rented house or flat. Other key costs that the maintenance loan is intended to cover include textbooks, groceries, toiletries, transport, and socialising.
Parents or guardians may choose to supplement their young person’s loan with an allowance, but we know that not everyone is in a position to do this. It’s worth checking with your young person’s university whether they could be eligible for any institutional grants, bursaries or scholarships. There are also a number of national-level options available, including additional funding for students with disabilities and dependants. UCAS has a helpful guide for what’s available.
If your young person decides to supplement their maintenance loan with a part-time job, most universities advise that students spend no more than 15 hours a week working alongside a full-time degree.