Financial Support for Undergraduates
Tuition Fee Loans
In 2015, when you start your studies you do not have to pay your tuition fees up front. You will be able to take out a loan through Student Finance England to pay them instead.
In order to qualify for student finance, including tuition fee loans, you have to satisfy certain residence requirements. For most people this means you must be living in England on the first day of your course, have been living in the UK for the three years immediately beforehand and do not have any restrictions on your stay in the UK. There are also other ways you can meet the requirements, for example, if you are a refugee living in the UK, and you can find further details on the direct.gov website.
In general, you'll only be able to get the finance package for higher education students if you're doing a first higher education qualification or 'topping up' a lower-level higher education qualification. Usually this means financial help for the length of your course - plus, if necessary, one extra year to cover any false starts or transfers.
The amount of tuition fee loan available is linked to the amount charged by Birmingham City University for your chosen course. For example, if your tuition fees are £9,000 the maximum tuition loan available will be £9,000.
The loans are not means tested so if you are an eligible student you will be able to apply for the maximum amount, regardless of your household income.
Interest is charged from when the loan is taken out at the rate of inflation plus three per cent. Repayments of the loan will commence the April after graduation, and once you are earning in excess of £21,000 per annum.
If you take out a tuition fee loan, the money will be paid direct to the university on your behalf. If you do not take out a tuition fee loan you will need to make arrangements to pay the university yourself. You may be able to pay your fees in instalments by direct debit but you will need to arrange this when you enrol on your course.
Support for Living Costs - Maintenance or Special Support Grant
Support for your living costs may come in a number of different forms. The main forms are a maintenance grant or special support grant and a loan for living costs. Again, to be eligible you will need to meet the residency and previous study requirements referred to earlier.
Some students may receive a maintenance or special support grant, eligibility for grants are means-tested so your household income will be taken into account.
The maximum for both these grants is to £3,387 and is payable to students with a household income of £25,000 or below. If your household income is between £25,000 and £42,620 you will receive a partial grant.
If you receive the maximum Maintenance Grant you cannot also receive the maximum student loan for living costs. For every £1 of Maintenance Grant you receive the amount of maintenance loan you can borrow falls by 50p.
This is so that, if you are a student from a lower income household, you will have a smaller loan to repay when you finish studying and start work.
The Special Support Grant is an alternative to the Maintenance Grant. You can apply for this if you are eligible for means tested state benefits, for example some single parents and disabled students. The amounts of grant payable are the same as for the Maintenance Grant but if you receive a Special Support Grant you will not have any amount deducted from your student loan entitlement.
If eligible for either a maintenance grant or special support grant, its not something that needs to be repaid.
Support for Living Costs - Loan for living costs
In order to get a loan to help with your living costs you need to meet the same residence and previous study requirements as previously mentioned. You also have to be aged under 60 when you start your course.
The maximum loans for living costs will be £4,565 if you are living in your parental home whilst studying or £5,740 if you are living away from home. These rates apply to students studying outside of London, and thus would apply to students studying at Birmingham City University.
65 per cent of the maximum loan amounts available are an automatic entitlement and the remaining 35 per cent is means tested on household income.
The interest rates and repayment details are the same as for tuition fee loans.
Remember, though, if you receive a Maintenance Grant, you will not be able to get the maximum amount of loan. You will also not get the maximum amount of loan if your household income is over a certain level.
Please refer to table below, which gives an indication of the level of support available in 2014 in relation to household income.
|Household Income||Maintenance Grant||Student Loan||Total|
|£62,132 or more||£0||£3,610||£3,610|
*please note loan amounts are based on student living away from the parental home
Some students can get additional grants.
If you have an adult who is financially dependent on you, you may be eligible for an Adult Dependant's Grant of up to £2,757. The grant is means tested on household income.
If you need child care during your studies, you may be eligible for a Child Care Grant. The grant is means tested and could provide up to 85 per cent of your child care costs. The maximum grant available is £155.24 per week for one child or £266.15 per week for two or more children.
You may also be eligible to receive a Parents' Learning Allowance to help with additional costs you may incur during your study because you have children. This may be up to £1,573 per year, again the actual amount will depend on household income.
Repayment of loans
As stated earlier, you only have to start paying your tuition fee loan back after you have graduated or left your course, and you are earning more than £21,000. Repayments will be nine per cent of the amount earned above £21,000.
Repayments will usually begin the April after you graduate or leave your course.
Interest will be added at a rate equal to inflation plus three per cent from the time you take out your loan until the date when repayment is due.
From then on, the interest rate will vary according to your earnings.
If you are earning £21,000 or less, the interest rate will reduce to the rate of inflation.
If you are earning more than £21,000 there will also be a real rate of interest added above the rate of inflation.
The maximum rate of interest will remain at the rate of inflation plus three per cent if you are earning £41,000 or above.
HM Revenue and Customs collect the repayments. Either your employer will take your payments direct from your salary or, if you are self-employed, HM Revenue and Customs will collect the repayments through the tax self-assessment system.
If you earn less than £21,000 per year or stop working at any point, you will not have to make any repayments during that period.
If any of your loan is left unpaid after 30 years, it is written off.
For some examples of repayments please refer to the table:
|Annual Salary||Amount of salary from which 9% will be deducted||Monthly Repayment|
Disabled Students' Allowance
(DSA) can help to pay for extra costs you may have to pay while studying as a direct result of a disability or specific learning difficulty. This can include:
- items of specialist equipment (up to £5,212 for the entire course),
- a non-medical helper (up to £20,725 a year) and
- other disability-related expenditure (up to £1,741 a year).
How to apply
Apply online at Student Finance Direct or contact 0845 300 50 90.
Student Finance England can also give you further information about whether you qualify for any grants and how much loan you can take out to cover your tuition fees and/or living costs. Any grants and loans for living costs will be paid directly into your bank or building society account, usually in three instalments.
You do not need to wait until you receive an offer of a place before you apply for financial support.