Student support, finance and wellbeing

Our resources

Student finance

What does student finance mean?

Student Finance is the name given to grants and loans available to help towards living costs and other expenses while you are studying. Depending on your location, studying status and household income there are different grants and loans you may be entitled to.

Do student loans go on your credit file?

In a simple answer, no!

When you are applying for a credit card, loan or mortgage and the financial provider runs a credit check on you, your student loan will not appear. However, some financial providers may specifically ask you whether or not you have a student loan. This is because providers will want to include it as a factor in an affordability check.

What is a tuition fee loan?

If you’re studying an undergraduate course, you may be eligible to receive a Tuition Fee Loan. This loan covers the cost of the fees charged by your university or college. Your university or college will set your tuition fee, which does not have to be paid up front, as the loan is paid directly to them. You should check with your institution first to see how much you’ll be charged for your course, so you can apply for the right amount of Tuition Fee Loan.

Does the Tuition Fee Loan need to be paid back?

The Tuition Fee Loan does need to be paid back, but not until you’ve finished or left your course, and your income is over the repayment threshold.

How do I repay my tuition fee loan?

Full-time students only need to start repaying their loans at the earliest in the April AFTER they graduate (or leave), no matter how long the course is. You repay 9% of everything earned above £27,295 (UK current threshold, £27,295 from April 2021). If you earn less than this, you do not repay anything.

If you are an employee, your repayments will be taken out of your salary at the same time as tax and National Insurance. Your payslips will show how much has been deducted. You may need to tell your employer which repayment plan you are on. There are three plans.

What happens if my income changes or I leave the course early?

If your income changes, the amount you repay will change too. But don’t worry, this will happen automatically. If you stop working, or start to earn below the repayment threshold, your repayments will stop until you earn over the threshold again. And if you leave your course early, you’ll still have to repay your loan, but the repayment process may be different.

What if I move abroad?

You will still have to repay back your loan.

When will the loan be wiped off of my file?

Any debt that you owe will be wiped off after 30 years.

What is a maintenance loan?

Maintenance loans are provided for by the government. They are intended to cover your living costs while you are in Higher Education e.g. rent, books, or travel. You will receive them in three instalments throughout the year, one at the beginning of each semester. The Maintenance Loan and the Tuition Fee Loan are technically two separate types of funding, even though you apply for them through the same process. The main difference is that this loan is means-tested, meaning it is based on household income, which in practice means your parents’/carer’s income.

What does means tested mean?

This refers to the process of measuring how much income a person has in order to decide if they should receive money from the government in regards to the Maintenance Loan. Your household income is made up of your income plus the income of:

  • Your parent(s), if you are under 25 and live with them or depend on them financially
  • One of your parents and their partner, if you are under 25 and live with them or depend on them financially

What is the minimum and maximum Maintenance Loan I may be able to receive?

The minimum Maintenance Loan on offer for students from England is £3,597, which is paid to students with a household income of £58,253 or more and who’ll be living at home during their time in Higher Education.

The maximum Maintenance Loan is £12,667 and is paid to students who will be living away from home and in London, and whose annual household income is below £25,000.

How do I repay my maintenance loan?

The loan is repaid in exactly the same way as the loan for tuition fees (ie, 9% of everything earned above £27,295).

What is a student finance calculator?

It is a calculating tool to work out how much funding you may be eligible for. This calculator is for students from England or the European Union (EU). You will need to have an idea of your annual household income.

How do I apply for student finance?

Applications usually open in late February or early March. You can apply online at  GOV.UK as soon as possible after that. If you are registered on UCAS they will inform you when to apply. Students do not need a confirmed place at a college or university to apply for student finance.

Is there any financial help for students with disabilities?

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) are grants to help with any extra essential costs you may have as a direct result of your disability. DSAs do not depend on household income, what you can receive depends on your own individual needs. You also do not have to pay them back.

Eligible disabilities could include:

· Long-term health condition

· Mental health condition

· Specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia

You can get help with the cost of:

· Specialist equipment, such as a computer

· Non-medical helpers

· Personal support

· Travel costs

· Other disability-related costs of studying

· Non-medical helper allowance


What is a scholarship?

This is money that is usually given for something you have achieved, whether this is academic or extra-curricular. They can be awarded for many different reasons and this is often dependent on the type of organisation that is awarding the scholarships. Different organisations will have different motives for offering scholarships. This is money that is awarded to you which you do not have to pay back.

What different scholarships are available?

Academic Excellence Scholarships: Many universities offer scholarships to students who achieve specified grades in their A-levels to encourage the higher achieving students to choose their university.

Musical Scholarships: If you have musical talent and would be happy to perform during your stay at the university there are a range of scholarships on offer for choral and instrumental students.

Personal Circumstances: Scholarships that are based on things that are specific to your personal circumstances, such as where you live, where you go to school, what your parents do, if you have been in care or even if you are a vegetarian!

Financial Need: These are the more traditional type of scholarships, which award money to individuals who are in financial need and might not be able to go to university without the money. You will need to prove your financial need.

Sporting achievement. It does not matter what you want to study, if you have made outstanding achievements in sport many universities will offer scholarships to attract the best talent. Recipients of Sporting Achievement scholarships with usually have to represent the university at sporting events while they study.

Industry scholarships: Companies or professional associations offer scholarships to attract talent into their industry or to recruit graduates. Some include work experience as part of the offer. Often scholars are offered employment on graduation.

Marketing led scholarships: These scholarships have been designed to achieve specific marketing objectives, usually offered by companies that are keen to get their brands in front of students. They are open to all students regardless of where or what they are going to study and can be worth around £5,000.

Charitable purposes: These are more often called grants or bursaries and are offered by charities and trusts, of which there are thousands in the UK. The amount awarded will usually be smaller and it will have a very specific purpose, in line with their charitable objectives.

When should I apply for a scholarship?

The application deadlines for scholarships vary and you should check each one to find out when to apply. However, do be aware that some require you to apply before you know your A-level results and others are once you have your place confirmed at university. There are also scholarships offered specifically to second or third year students, so keep an eye out while you are studying. A cash boost every now and then will always be welcome to a student!

How do I find a scholarship?

The Scholarship Hub is a database that can filter out different options for you

Is it financially beneficial going to college/university?

Yes, working-age graduates earned £10,000 per year more than the average non-graduate (Universities, 2018)


What is a bursary?

If you are 16-19 and studying at either a publicly funded school or college in England (not a university) or on a training course, including unpaid work experience, you could be eligible for a bursary. A bursary is money that you, or your education or training provider, can use to pay for things like:

  • clothing, books and other equipment for your course
  • transport and lunch on days you study or train

What are the two types of bursaries?

  • Bursary for students in vulnerable groups-You could get a bursary worth up to £1,200, depending on your circumstances and benefits.
  • Discretionary Bursary- You could get a discretionary bursary if you need financial help but do not qualify for a bursary for students in vulnerable groups. Your education or training provider decides how much you get and what it’s used for.

Am I eligible for a bursary?

You must:

  • be at least 16 and under 19 on 31 August 2020
  • study at a publicly funded school or college, or be on an unpaid training course
  • meet the residency requirements – your school or college can check this

Bursary for students in vulnerable groups

You could get up to £1,200 if at least one of the following applies:

  • you’re in or recently left local authority care
  • you get Income Support or Universal Credit because you’re financially supporting yourself
  • you get Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in your
  • name and either Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit
  • you get Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in your name and either ESA or Universal Credit

You may get the full amount if you have expenses and study full-time on a course of at least 30 weeks.

You’ll usually get less than the full amount, or no bursary, if one of the following apply:

  • your course is shorter than 30 weeks
  • you study part time
  • you have few expenses

You’ll be told what evidence you need, for example benefit letters.

Discretionary bursary

Your school or college will have their own criteria for discretionary bursaries. They’ll look at your individual circumstances – this usually includes your family income.

Ask student services about their criteria and any evidence you’ll need.

You can apply to a discretionary bursary if you’re over 19 and either:

How and when do I apply for a bursary?

Apply to your school, college or training provider. Ask student services or your tutor to explain what you need to do. Apply once you know where you’ll study or train, so you’ll get your bursary as soon as possible. You might need to reapply for a bursary for each year of your course. Check with your provider.

Care Leavers

Who is classed as a care leaver in HE?

If you are below the age of 21 and were looked after in foster care or residential accommodation by a local authority, you may be eligible for additional support from universities, colleges and from your local authority.

Find out more how our partners support care levers here.

What can universities and colleges providing HE offer to care leavers?

Every higher education institution will have support in place to offer to care leavers who enrol onto HE courses. This can range from financial, wellbeing, accommodation or social support. It is important you make them aware you are a care leaver; this can be done during the application process or by getting in contact with the university or college directly. If you are applying through UCAS, make sure you tick the relevant box to make them aware you have been in care.

Will I be able to stay in accommodation during the holidays?

Most universities will provide year-round accommodation for you as a care leaver. As well as this, some universities may be able to guarantee you a place in university-owned accommodation and a waiver of the upfront security deposit required. It is best to find out more from each institution by getting in touch with student support or accommodation services.

How often will I meet with support services?

You can get in touch with support services as much as you like at university or college. There are also a number of wellbeing services available, such as counselling and mental health support.

Useful Links

Care Leaver Covenant – Information and support from GHWY higher education providers

UCAS – If you’re a care leaver applying to higher education, there’s support available to help you with finance, settling in and accommodation.

Become – the charity for children in care and young care leavers. Get help and advice, find out how we are improving the care system, and support our vital work.


Special educational needs

What doe DSA stand for?

This is additional support for students with disabilities and is funded by Student Finance England.

What is the Disabled Students Allowance?

This is additional support for students with disabilities and is funded by Student Finance England.

You may be able to get:

General Allowance - used to help pay course-related costs you may have as a direct result of your disability.

Specialist Equipment Allowance - used to help buy equipment needed because of your disability.

Non-Medical Helper Allowance - used to help pay for support workers such as British Sign Language interpreters or mobility trainers.

Travel Allowance - used for any additional study-related travel costs you may have as a result of your disability.

The DSA needs evidence of your disability before you can access funding. You could receive one to one support and additional help with your studies such as specialist equipment or a personal tutor.

How do I apply for DSA?

To apply for DSA you need to click on the ‘Disabled Students Allowance’ box on your Student Finance application form. Student Finance England will then send you an application form and a guidance booklet to find out more about how they can support you. The process can take up to 14 weeks so they advise you to apply as early as possible.

When do I let the HE Providers know about my individual needs?

If you have a physical or mental health condition, learning difficulty or long-term illness, you can let the course provider know on your UCAS application. However, it is a good idea to contact them directly to discuss your support needs as early as possible- even before sending your application.

How much do you get for your DSA?

In England, the maximum amount is £20,580 per year. This covers all components. In Wales, the maximum amount is £20,000 per year. At time of writing, the 2020/21 DSA postgraduate rate was still to be announced.

What evidence do you need for the DSA?

You might be asked to provide a copy of a report or letter from your doctor or consultant. Student Finance England can also accept a disability evidence form. A copy of a ‘diagnostic assessment’ from a practitioner, psychologist, or suitably qualified specialist teacher may also be required.

Do you have to pay for a DSA assessment?

The assessment fee will be covered by your DSAs. You do not have to pay for the assessment yourself.

When can I apply for the DSA?

If you are planning to take an eligible healthcare or social work course, you should apply for your DSA through the NHS. You do not have to have a confirmed university place to apply for DSAs. In fact, it is best to apply as early as possible but you can apply at any point during your studies.

Do you have to pay back the DSA?

No, you get it on top of your other students finance. You will not need to repay DSAs. How much you get depends on your individual needs, not your household income.

Useful links

Disabled Students | Advice And Financial Support | UCAS – For students with disabilities, it’s important to make sure you’ve applied for the right funding and that the right people know what you need.

Help if you’re a student with a learning difficulty, health problem or disability – GOV.UK – Disabled Students’ Allowance is extra money for higher education students – DSA1 forms, eligibility, how to apply, needs assessment. Help if you’re a student

Information about Student Support and Wellbeing

Your wellbeing is just as important as your academic side of university life. We want you to be able to enjoy your time studying, and to stay safe and happy. Student support services in our partner institutions can provide information, advice and guidance on a range of issues to help make sure this is the case.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the help available in your institution, and if you need to speak to someone about an issue, our partners have dedicated support teams on hand to help with:

  • Health/mental health problems
  • Disabilities
  • Academic studies
  • Careers
  • General welfare/wellbeing
  • Finances
  • Accommodation
  • Counselling

Students’ Unions also offer a range of support services – make sure you check out what is available:

  • Disabled Learners Transition Pack

    Welcome to Go Higher West Yorkshire's Disabled Learners' Higher Education Transition Pack! This resource has been designed to support you on your own journey into Higher Education (HE). Making decisions about your future has never been easy and there is lots of information out there which can be overwhelming. We hope that this transition pack will help you to easily access information about the timelines, processes and support to enable you to progress into a destination of your choice. We understand that starting HE is a big step, one that often begins a long time before you finally arrive there. For many students who have received support or adjustments at school or college the transition to university can be confusing and hard to navigate, not least because the language and terminology used about Special Educational Needs (SEN), disability and support is very different. This can prevent some students from accessing the support they need.

    View Resources

  • Care leaver covenant

    Go Higher West Yorkshire’s (GHWY) collaborative Care Leaver Covenant has been updated for 2023-24.   The e-resource, which was originally launched in 2017, demonstrates the ongoing commitment to care-experienced people shown by our 13 Higher Education (HE) members. Updated annually, it brings together all the support, information, and top tips offered by our members in a single, easy to navigate document.  

    View Resources

Hear from current students

  • How have the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) helped you?

  • Were you concerned about the cost of Higher Education before you applied?

  • Do you think the wider benefits will outweigh the costs of Higher Education?

  • Have you had to spend a lot of money on course materials?

  • Are you worried about paying back your student loan?

  • What’s the best deal you’ve got with your student discount?

  • What advice would you give regarding accommodation?

  • Have you received any extra financial support?

  • Do you have a part-time job?

  • How do you manage travel costs to placements?

  • How did you find the process of applying for Student Finance?

  • What advice would you give to someone worried about the cost of Higher Education?

  • What is your best budgeting tip for new students?

  • Have you developed money management skills since you have been in Higher Education?

  • What would you say to worried parents about the financial implications of going to university?