When you're studying a higher education course at college or university you'll have two main costs - tuition fees and living costs. But don't panic! Most students don't have to pay anything up front and are eligible for government-funded loans and grants.
As well as student loans, it may be possible to get additional bursaries and maintenance grants (which you do not need to repay). Additional support is also available for students with children or those who have a disability.
How much you receive in loans and grants will depend on your personal circumstances. Use the Student Finance Calculator for an estimate of the financial support you could receive.
The information below relates to 2012/13. Please be aware that financial support schemes can be subject to government change.
If you are intending to start a university level course at college you can apply for loans to help with your tuition fees and living costs. Once you've graduated you may worry that you've got an enormous debt hanging over you but there's no need to panic. You don't have to repay a penny until you get a job and are earning more than £21,000 a year.
How do I apply for a student loan?
All English students starting a higher education course in 2012 will apply for a loan through the online service Student Finance England. And remember, you will be able to apply for student finance at the same time as you make your UCAS application.
Further information about student loans
The Directgov website is the main source for further information - see What money can you get? Or you can call the free HE student finance helpline number - 0845 300 50 90.
|Students from Bournemouth University have made a myth-busting animation, which gives you the essential facts about student loans and fees for higher education courses starting in 2012.|
Tuition Fees Loan - covers the cost of tuition fees in full. This money is paid directly to the college.
Maintenance Loan - a means-tested Maintenance Loan, which contributes to your cost of living. The loans are subsidised by the government and are paid back only after you have finished studying and are earning more than £21,000. To find out more and to make an online application, visit www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance.
Maintenance Grant - a yearly government Maintenance Grant to help with living costs, which you may be able to apply for if your household income is £42,611 or less. You do not have to pay back Maintenance Grants.
Fee Grants and Course Grants
Students from low-income households may be eligible for a Fee Grant or a Course Grant. You won't have to pay back either type of grant. For more information and to apply, visit www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance.
Tuition Fee Loan
New part-time students don't have to pay any tuition fees up front and can apply now for a Tuition Fee Loan. The Tuition Fee Loan isn't based on household income and there's no upper age limit for applying.
Repaying your loan
You'll be due to start repaying your loan in the April four years after the start of your course or the April after you leave your course - whichever comes first. However, you'll only start making repayments if your income is more than £21,000 a year.
If you're a part-time student with a disability, long-term health condition, mental-health condition or a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia, you may be able to get extra help through Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs). These are: non-medical personal helper allowance of up to £15,390, major specialist equipment allowance of up to £5,161 and other disability related expenditure allowance of up to £1,293. DSAs don't need to be paid back. More information is available on the DSA quick guide or you can download the DSA application form.
Access to Learning Fund (ALF)
Both full- and part-time students may be eligible for a grant from the College's hardship fund, ALF. This is a one-off payment intended to help students who have applied for a Student Loan but who are still experiencing financial difficulty. Download an application form or contact Student Support Services.
Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL)
If you intend to work in the UK or in the European Economic Area when your course finishes, you may be eligible for a loan to help with the cost of the course, books, childcare, travel or living expenses. The government pay the interest on the loan while you are studying (and for one month afterwards). However, you will need to pay the loan back when the course finishes, whether you are in employment or not. For more information, visit www.direct.gov.uk/pcdl.
Care to Learn (C2L)
Help is also available to meet the cost of your childcare. If you are under 20 and have one or more children, Care to Learn can help with up to £160 a week for the cost of your childcare while you are learning. For more information please contact Care to Learn on 0800 121 8989 or visit the Care to Learn section of the Directgov website.
Please note the information on this page is intended for UK citizens or Home Students. If you are not a UK citizen, please contact Student Support Services to discuss your student status.
Journalism Diversity Fund
The Journalism Diversity Fund offers bursaries to people from socially and ethnically diverse backgrounds who have applied for a place on an NCTJ-accredited journalism course with a start date between September 2011 and June 2012. For more information visit http://www.journalismdiversityfund.com/.
Student Support Services
Tel: (023) 9238 3131
Student Finance England
Tel: 0845 300 50 90