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Student finance explained

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Published: June 11, 2018

Hi, I'm Katharine, Access to Higher Education and Scholarships Officer here at the University of Sunderland. I understand that Student Finance can sometimes feel like a bit of a minefield so I thought I'd address some of your most commonly asked questions.

student finance explained image

How can I afford to pay my tuition fees?

This is the most common question that I get asked and the most misconceived. You do not have to pay tuition fees upfront, at all. Most university students take out a tuition fee loan from Student Finance England. It doesn’t depend on your annual household income, if you are eligible you can apply for it and they will pay for your fees for the full academic year.

Is there any help towards my living costs? 

Yes, some students choose to take out a maintenance loan. A maintenance loan is intended to help you with your living costs while you’re at university. There are a number of eligibility criteria including:

  • Your annual household income
  • Where you will live - at home or in student accommodation
  • Where you are based location wise. Living costs in the likes of London are bound to be higher than a city in the North
  • If you are studying part-time or full-time
  • The course you are studying

How much can I expect to pay back and when?

You don’t pay any of your loans back until you have graduated and you are earning over £25,000. So, for example if you owe £30,000 and you are earning £30,000, you will pay back £37.50 per month. If you owe £60,000 and you are earning £30,000, again you will only pay back £37.50 a month. It doesn’t matter how much you owe, you will pay it back in small manageable amounts and if by thirty years you haven’t paid back the full amount of your loan, it's written off.

Will I receive interest on my loan?

Student loans do incur interest at a rate of 3% interest plus inflation, while you are studying.

When should I apply for student finance?

If you are starting your studies in the September/autumn time, it's best to apply for your loan from February of that year onwards. If you haven’t applied by the end of May, Student Finance England can’t always guarantee that your loan will be ready for you when you start your course. My advice is to apply as early as you can.

What happens to my finance if I change university options?

To apply to Student Finance England, you need to put down the name of the University you wish to study at. However, If you don’t end up studying there, it’s really simple to let Student Finance England know and they will transfer the funds to another University.

How does Student Finance pay me my loan?

Students receive their student loan usually within 3 termly installments. If you start your course in the autumn, you will get your first installment usually during Fresher’s Week in September. The next installment will then come in January of the second semester and your third payment will come just after Easter.

What is non-repayable funding?

Some students may be eligible for non-repayable funding such as additional support. This can be anything from Parents' Learning Allowance if you have children to a Disabled Students' Allowance if you have a disability, it just depends on your particular circumstances.

How can you help me with the costs of University?

Lots of universities offer additional support to their students in the form of scholarships. Here at the University of Sunderland, we offer cash scholarships and fee reductions, as well as free accommodation or free travel, it just depends on the course that you are studying and your eligibility. Find out more about funding and our wide range of scholarships.

If you have any other questions or would like more information about your finance or scholarships, please contact the team on scholarships@sunderland.ac.uk or 0191 515 2865.


Katharine Reed

Katharine Reed,
Access to Higher Education and Scholarships Officer

Topic: Advice and tips