As well as the rigmarole of UCAS, there is the Student Loans Company (SLC) to deal with.

Taking out a Student Loan can feel daunting, particularly if you’re only just leaving school. Since the Student Loan is likely to be your first large financial commitment, you probably have many questions about it. As you’re right at the beginning of your university studies, you’re unlikely to be thinking about how you will repay the loan and will probably be more interested in finding out exactly how much money you will be able to borrow.

Before you get too excited at the prospect of the large sums you could receive, we want to remind you that it is, unfortunately, not going to be ‘free money’. Any loan you take out will need to be paid back – bummer!

Thankfully, Student Loans are not the same as ordinary loans and there are special measures in place to ensure that you will always be able to afford your repayments, and that – if you haven’t repaid it after a certain amount of time – it eventually gets wiped. See our guide to repaying your student loan for more information.

Tuition Fee Loan

Students can borrow the full cost of their university tuition fees. This entitles them to borrow up to the full amount of their course fees. Typically, this means up to £9,250 per year (though the figure is £6,000 per year for private universities). However, if you are studying an accelerated course, you could apply for up to £11,100.

Both full- and part-time students are eligible and there is no means-testing for this loan, so the amount you can receive is not affected by your household income.

The Tuition Fee Loan is only for course fees and will be paid directly to your university, so there is no chance that it will be accidentally (or deliberately) used for any other purpose.

Maintenance Loan

The Maintenance Loan is to help you pay for your living costs while attending university. Though designed to be used for things such as accommodation, student utility bills, books and general uni essentials, it is paid directly into your account with no terms and conditions about what it can be spent on.

The amount that you can receive depends on whether or not you will be living at home or in accommodation, and on the location in which you will be living if away from home.

  • If living at home, you could be eligible to receive up to £7,987 per year
  • If living away from home (outside of London), you could receive up to £9,488
  • If living away from home (in London), you could receive up to £12,382
  • If studying on a year abroad (as part of your UK university degree), you could receive up to £10,866.

Unlike the Tuition Fee Loan, the maintenance loan is partly means-tested. This means that everyone is entitled to borrow some money for maintenance and the amount that they will be eligible to borrow will vary. Means-testing is based on household income (how much your parents earn), the idea being that, if they can afford to, parents should help their children to survive through university.

To find out exactly how much Maintenance Loan you will be eligible to receive, you can use the student finance calculator on the government website.

Special Support Grants

In addition to your Student Loans (for tuition fees and maintenance), you may be eligible to receive a Special Support Grant if you meet certain criteria:

  • You have a disability that qualifies you for an income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Disabled Students’ Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Disability Premium or Severe Disability Premium.
  • You have been officially incapable of work for a significant time (a continuous period of at least 28 weeks).
  • You are a single parent (including foster-parents), of a child or young adult under the age of 20 (as long as the young adult is in full-time education below Higher Education level or on an approved training course).
  • Your partner is also in full-time education and at least one of you is responsible for a child or young adult under the age of 20 (as long as the young adult is in full-time education below Higher Education level or on an approved training course).
  • You qualify for Armed Forces Independence Payments or Personal Independence Payments.
  • You have had to previously defer your course due to illness or a caring responsibility.
  • You are over the age of 60.

The full Maintenance Grant for the academic year 2021-2022 will be £3,919.

How to apply

In order to apply for these loans (and the grant, if that applies to you), you have to apply through the Student Loans Company.