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Student Finance. You might have heard a lot about it. Or just know you’re probably going to have to apply for it. Whatever point you’re at, we’ve got all the information you need. From what Student Finance is, to a step-by-step guide. And, once you’ve submitted your application, what happens next.

What is Student Finance?

Student Finance is a loan that’s available to help you to fund your way through university. For an undergraduate university student, there are two costs to cover: tuition fees and living costs. You can apply for two different loans to help cover both. And you don’t need a confirmed university place to make your application.

Staff member stood at Money Advice stall talking to student

Tuition fee loan

The first cost is your tuition fees. The loan to cover this cost is not means tested. This means that the loan will cover 100% of your course fees no matter what your household income is.

This money is paid directly to your university, so you don’t need to pay any fees upfront. Your tuition fee covers course-related costs, such as teaching and facilities. It also goes towards student support, careers and wellbeing services. You can find a full list of what’s included in your tuition fees on our helpful page.

Maintenance loan

The second loan you can apply for is a maintenance loan. This covers your living expenses. That’s your accommodation, travel, food, and anything else like clothes or entertainment. This loan is means tested. So, the amount you’ll receive is based on your household income. And whether you’re living in student accommodation or living at home. You may be required to provide your parents’ or partner’s income to determine the amount of loan you’re eligible to receive.

Your maintenance loan is paid directly to you in three equal instalments across the academic year. Normally it’s paid in September, January and April in line with your term dates. It’s paid straight into your bank or building society account. The bank account you choose must be in your name. Student Finance won’t make payments to anyone else.

And it’s important to check how much you’ll receive in your maintenance loan as it may not cover all of your living costs. It’s a good idea to plan in advance and consider what you may do to make up any costs not covered by the loan. Such as finding a part-time job or receiving financial help from parents or supporters.

How to apply - A student reads a book while working on her Apple Macbook at a table in the University library in the Catalyst building.
‘Means test’ – what is it?

Tips for applying for Student Finance

Take your time. And be as accurate as possible when completing your application. This will help ensure that you receive the correct amount of maintenance loan and that it’s in place for the start of your course.

Third-year student, Freya, remembers how she felt when she completed her first Student Finance application.

“I remember procrastinating my Student Finance application. I was worried that it would be really confusing and that it would take up a lot of my time. But in reality, it was quick and easy to apply. In fact, it took less than 30 minutes. I was thrilled to be one step closer to starting university.”

Third-year student Freya smiling in The Hub

If you’re feeling the same way as Freya, that’s understandable. But once you start to complete your application, you’ll realise that it’s much simpler than you first thought. And, when you’ve submitted all the required evidence, and have signed your loan declaration, you can breathe a sigh of relief that the process is complete for the academic year.

Freya pointed out how important her Student Finance loan is and how it impacts her student experience.

“Due to my family’s circumstances, my maintenance loan helps to cover the cost of my rent. And I only need to work one day a week at my part-time job, which helps me to cover food bills and socialising. I still have more than enough time to attend all my lectures, seminars, and focus on my assignments and revision for exams.”

Freya’s shared a simple step-by-step guide on how to apply:

  1. Create your account. Make a note of your login details as you’ll need them to apply for Student Finance for the following academic years.
  2. Click ‘Start Now.’ This is where you’ll start to fill in your application. Take care when filling in this information and make sure that it’s correct. You’ll need your National Insurance number at this stage.
  3. You may need to include your household income. If you do, your parents/supporters or partner will be asked to confirm these details.
  4. You may need to send additional evidence, such as proof of identity. Passports can be uploaded online. Your birth or adoption certificate can be sent by post. You’ll be notified if you need to do this.
  5. It can take up to six weeks for your application to be processed. You’ll be asked to sign an online loan declaration form. It’s important to sign this as soon as possible.

What other information is useful?

The government webpage also provides a step-by-step guide. It includes how to understand what your loan could cover, and gives details about the evidence you may need for your application. You can also find out if there’s any additional support you could be entitled to. If any details on your application change, you should notify Student Finance as soon as possible. For details, such as change in university or course, you can do this via your online account. You can find further information online.

The deadline to apply for Student Finance is in the May of the year you’re due to start university. For 2023 applicants, the deadline is 19 May 2023. You can still apply once this deadline has passed. However, Student Finance can’t guarantee that you’ll receive payments in time for the start of your course if you apply later than this date.

Edge Hill’s Money Advice webpages also offer information for Care Experienced and Estranged Students (CEES) and those who are under 25 with an independent status. You can also look at alternative types of finance if you don’t want to take out a loan.

You may be eligible for additional funding. Check out our money matters webpages to find out more about the Grants, Bursaries and Scholarships that could be available to you.

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Do all students apply through Student Finance England?

The short answer is no. Your application is based on the country you normally live in, and not the country you’re planning to study in. So, if you’re normally a resident in Wales, but are planning to study at an English university, you need to apply through Student Finance Wales.

It’s important that you apply through the Student Finance agency for the country you reside in as you could miss out on additional funding if you don’t. For example, students from Wales and Northern Ireland can apply for a maintenance grant as well as a maintenance loan. The different between the two payments is that students don’t have to repay the maintenance grant.


Don’t let the thought of repaying your loan put you off applying for university or Student Finance. You’ll only start to repay your student loan in the April after the completion of your course and only when you’re earning above the repayment threshold.

For 2023/24 UK students, the repayment threshold is £25,000. It’s taken straight out of your monthly or weekly wage, once you start earning over £25,000 a year. And only 9% of the amount you earn over the threshold will be deducted. Any part of the loan that is not paid after 40 years (from the April you were first due to pay) will be written off. You should check the repayment plans for the country you reside in as this can differ. For example, Student Finance Northern Ireland uses a different repayment plan to Student Finance England.

We hope you’ve found this information useful. If you do have any questions relating to Student Finance, you can contact our Money Advice Team, who’ll be happy to help. You’ll find their contact details on our Money Advice Homepage.

Visit our money advice webpages for full details

March 22, 2023


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