As a university student in the UK, chances are you’ll be heavily reliant on Student Finance each year. However, there are a few factors that come into play when assessing how much you can get so it’s important to stay informed. In order to give you a helping hand, we’ve compiled a guide for getting student finance twice if you ever need to. So, here’s everything you need to know when it comes to if you can get it and how.
What is Student Finance in the UK?
The UK government’s student finance scheme provides temporary loans to fund your academic and living costs while at university. This usually covers both tuition fees and maintenance grants for undergraduate students.
Some students might be eligible for extra funding on top of this. For example, this is if they are on a low income, are disabled or have children or caregiver responsibilities.
You will be charged interest on the loan from the first day, though the specific terms and conditions vary from year to year. The exact amount your loan covers is calculated using a range of factors, such as your parents’ income.
You’ll then start repaying your loans once you’re properly working, and are earning over a certain amount.
Getting Student Finance if you’ve dropped out of university
A lot can happen at university and for whatever reason, you might find you’ve changed your mind after arriving. If it comes to the point of dropping out and returning next year (or to another university), you’ll need to reapply for Student Finance as well.
This is generally permitted, as long as you have only dropped out once. Students are usually entitled to have their tuition fees paid for four years and then one additional year. In fact, this additional allowance is designed to cover situations like this.
Since you’ll have done it before, you should be familiar with the process, so you can head to the student finance website to apply as normal. This must be done in time for the next academic year (or when you’ll be rejoining university). The exact date can vary but it’s usually around the middle to end of May. Read our guide about what to do if you drop out of university, here.
Getting Student Finance if you repeat a year
Again, the unexpected can happen and if you find you’re required to repeat a year of your course, don’t worry. The situation is similar in terms of how to reapply for your loan. You can read our full guide on what happens if you fail a year at university here.
Students are automatically entitled to both a loan on tuition fees and maintenance costs for up to one year of repeat study. As mentioned before, it’s important to note that you can only benefit from this once.
Essentially, this will mean that if you’ve already completed a year of study prior to this then you may not be entitled to either loan again. This applies equally whether that was on a different course or if you’ve already repeated a year of your current one.
If you’re experiencing issues with not automatically being granted permission to reapply, there are still some options depending on your situation. If you can prove to Student Finance England that you have particular personal reasons for repeating the year, you may be eligible. Similarly, if your university accepts your mitigating circumstances, should you have any, usually you won’t be made to repay your tuition the second time around. Examples include illness, disability, pregnancy or traumatic personal events.
The Student Advice Service will be your go-to resource to help you apply for either a tuition or maintenance loan on these grounds.
If it turns out you only need to repeat some aspects of the year then your university itself will probably count you as a part-time student. Again, don’t stress – you should still apply for student funding as a full-time student, as you are in terms of Council Tax, welfare benefits and more.
If you enrol in another undergraduate degree
You might decide to apply for another undergraduate course once you’ve completed your first (if you’re insanely smart).
Student Finance says that students are usually only granted a loan for their first higher education qualification. Importantly, this is true even if your previous course was self-funded.
However, they also say that you may still be given limited funding in certain circumstances and for particular courses. For example, this could be if you’re “topping up” a higher education qualification. Maybe you’ve finished an HNC, HND or Foundation Degree and are now opting to complete an Honours degree.