Answered: How do student loans work and how much will I get?


Going to uni comes with 2 main costs: tuition and maintenance (living) fees.

Luckily, almost all students can access financial support that helps to cover both these costs – AKA, your student loan.

Here’s how much you’ll get, what it covers, and how and when to apply for it.




How much will I get to cover tuition fees?

You can apply for a loan to cover tuition fees through Student Finance and anyone, from any financial background, is eligible to apply.

This loan will cover the full cost of your course – which varies based on where you live currently and where you’re planning to study in the UK.

This table shows the maximum amount UK universities can charge for their courses. Check the exact cost of your course here.


maximum costs for uni courses


You won’t see any of this loan in your bank account – it’s paid directly to the university.

You will be expected to pay it off (with interest) in monthly instalments once you’ve left uni and you’re in a job earning over:

  • £18,935 a year in Northern Ireland and Scotland
  • 25,725 a year in England and Wales

Remember, there are also grants you can apply for to help you cover the cost of uni. More info on that here.


How much will I get for my maintenance loan?

A maintenance loan goes towards covering rent, travel and other uni life essentials like food, textbooks, gym memberships etc.

Again, you’ll apply for this through Student Finance. Although, unlike the tuition fees loan, this one is partly means-tested, meaning exactly how much you’ll get will depend on your household income.

Generally speaking, those with higher-earning parents or guardians will get less as it’s assumed that you’ll get an allowance or assistance from them too.

This loan IS paid directly into your bank account once every term (and monthly in Scotland) and therefore, the responsibility is on you to budget and make your money last till the next instalment.


Where do I apply for my student loan?

To apply or find out exactly how much you could get, call one of these numbers below.

(If you’re in the UK, pick the number of the country you currently live in. If you’re overseas, pick the number of the country you’ll be studying in.)

  • England

Call 0300 100 0607 or visit Student Fiance England

  • Scotland

Call 0300 100 0607 or visit Student Award Agency Scotland

  • Wales

Call 0300 100 0607 or visit Student Fiance Wales

  • Northern Ireland

Call 0300 100 0607 or visit Student Fiance Northern Ireland


When can I apply?

Your student loan can take up to six weeks to come in so make sure you get it sorted as soon as you can to ensure you get paid in time for your course starting. You don’t even need a confirmed place to get going.

However, if you get a place at a different uni through Clearing and need to start the process again, don’t worry. You can apply up to 9 months after your course start date. It just means you'll need to cover the cost of tuition and/or maintenance fees until it kicks in.

Keep reading: These are the UK's top 10 budget cities to study in