Can I afford university?

  • Everyone can afford to go to university. It is expensive, but student finance means if you’re from the UK and applying to university in England, you don’t have to pay for it up front.

    Tuition fees

    Universities can charge up to £9,250 per year for your course. Some charge less. This includes teaching, use of university facilities and administration costs. You do not need to pay these fees up front. Student Finance England provides a tuition fee loan.

    • All UK undergraduate students are entitled to a tuition fee loan.
    • The amount of money available depends on whether you are studying part-time or full-time.
    • Part-time students are eligible for a tuition fee loan if studying at least 25% of the full-time course each year.

    Living costs

    You are responsible for paying for things like accommodation, bills, food, travel, social activities, sport and books. Student Finance England provides a maintenance loan to help cover these costs.

    • All UK undergraduate students are entitled to a maintenance loan to cover living costs.
    • The amount of money available depends on your household income, whether you will be living with your parents, and whether you’ll be living in London.
    Maintenance loan amounts for the 2017/18 academic year (for a full-time student)
    Your status Loan amount
    Living at home Up to £7,097
    Living away from home, outside London Up to £8,430
    Living away from home, in London Up to £11,002
    You spend a year of a UK course studying abroad Up to £9,654

    How will I repay these loans?

    • Your tuition fee loan and maintenance loan are combined into one amount.
    • You will not start repaying the loan until the April after you graduate - and only when you are earning at least £25,000 per year.
    • You pay 9% of your income over £25,000 per year.
    • If your income drops below £25,000 per year, the repayments automatically stop. If you reach £25,000 again, they start again.
    • If you are an employee, payments will go out automatically from your salary with your tax and national insurance.
    • The loan is wiped after 30 years if it has not been paid back. You make no further payments after this point.
    Examples of monthly repayments
    Salary Monthly repayments
    £25,000 £0
    £25,500 £4
    £27,000 £15
    £30,000 £37

    Check out this guide to student finance if you want to find out more. You can also use this calculator tool to give you a good idea about your likely repayments. There’s also loads of information on The Student Room.

    What if I need more financial support?

    Universities provide bursaries and scholarships. This is money given to you by the university that you do not need to pay back. Bursaries are based on financial need, and scholarships are usually based on academic achievement. Each university will offer different financial support, so make sure you check what’s available to you when you’re researching universities. You might be eligible for something and not even know it!

    The government also offers extra funding for students with physical, mental and learning difficulties, students with children, and students with adult dependants. You do not need to pay this back.

    Universities might also offer fee waivers - a reduction in tuition fees. This often depends on household income. You’ll need to look at university websites to find out details.

    Aren’t students always struggling to make ends meet?

    There’s no denying that living on a student budget can be tough. But if you’re sensible, you won’t have any problems. Check out our tips on making the most of your money, and remember that universities will often have a financial advice service you can use.

    It’s important to think about cost of living when you’re researching universities. Some cities cost more to live in than others. This comparison chart is really useful in helping you figure out where is affordable for you.