Finance for Mature Students
If you’re working, supporting a family, renting a property, paying a mortage… starting a degree may seem, well, a farfetched idea. But between the loans, bursaries, grants, and allowances, you might be surprised just how manageable studying for a degree is. Below we outline the numerous financial support channels open to adult learners.
If you’re interested in finding out more, contact our team today for a free, impartial Student Finance assessment.
Please note: details below refer specifically to Student Finance England; Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales each have their own student finance rules & regulations.
Tuition Fee Loan
All UK students and the vast majority of EU students are eligible for a tuition fee loan; this loan is not means-tested, so household income is not taken into account. The loan covers the full tuition fee cost of the course and is paid directly to your higher education provider.
The maintenance loan is a means-tested loan paid to the student directly by Student Finance England (SFE) to the student. Your household income is taken into account by SFE when calculating how much you will receive. When you start your course and where you live are also used in calculating the final loan amount. For the ’22/’23 academic year, the maximum loan you can receive is £12,667 per year.
The Childcare Grant is available for full-time students that pay for childcare for their child/children (under 15 or 17 if the child/children have special education needs). Unlike the SF loans, the grant does not have to be paid back. What you receive depends on your household income and the number of children you have. The maximum amount you could receive is £315.03 per week for the ’22/’23 academic year; this amount is paid into a Childcare Grant Payment Service account.
Adult Dependants' Grant
If you’re a full-time student and an adult depends on you financially, you’ll be eligible for the Adults Dependants’ Grant; this grant does not have to be paid back, and the maximum amount you can receive for the ’22/’23 academic year is £3,190.
Scholarships & Bursaries
Scholarships and bursary schemes are offered by HE providers based on age, academic prowess, and even postcode. Contact the HE provider’s enrolment team for advice and guidance on the initiatives you might be eligible for. It’s also worth noting that you are not required to pay back the amount received from a bursary or scholarship.
Parents' Learning Allowance
If you’re studying a full-time course and have dependent children, you can receive up to £1,863 a year from the Parents’ Learning Allowance for the ’22/23 academic year. This amount does not have to be paid back
Student Carer Funding
Much like scholarships and bursaries, HE providers offer various support channels, including academic (flexible deadlines) and financial, for carers (defined as working unpaid for a family member or friend). This can often be overlooked in the application/admission process, so it’s worth mentioning to your HE provider as you could be missing out.
Disabled Students' Allowance
The Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) covers the study-related costs you have because of a mental health problem, long term illness or any other disability.
This can be on its own or in addition to any student finance you get. The type of support and how much you get depends on your individual needs, with the maximum amount for the ’22/’23 financial year set at £25,575. DSA does not need to be paid back.
To ensure students are protected when they face financial difficulty, most higher education providers offer hardship loans or grants. The amount offered depends on the needs of the student and how much the HE provider assigns to the hardship fund. UKCBC, for example, offers a hardship fund for students in financial difficulties, with the amount based on personal circumstances.
Repaying the Tuition Fee & Maintenance Loans
One of the biggest barriers to overcome when considering studying as a mature learner is finance, and rightly so. But as we’ve shown above, the support structures are in place to help many access education without losing out on income. But what about paying back the loans after you’ve graduated?
The good news is that the loans you accrue during your studies have some of the most flexible, generous loan terms you’ll ever receive. Some might even suggest that ‘loan’ doesn’t accurately describe the support students receive through Student Finance England. Instead the loan acts more as a graduate tax. Here’s how it works:
Firstly, you only start repaying your loans when your income is over £524 a week, £2,274 a month or £27,295 a year (before tax and other deductions). So if you earn £27,295 or below, you pay nothing. It’s also worth noting that the loan is written off after 30 years, regardless of how much or little has been paid.
So, once you go over the threshold for repayment, you pay 9% of your wages above the annual £27,295 threshold. Let’s look at an example:
Your annual income is £30,000. Your monthly income is, therefore, £2,500. You are £226 over the threshold. So you pay back £20.34 per month (9% of £226).
It’s worth noting that Student Loans do have some loan-ish qualities, notably the interest rate. The interest you accrue while studying is 4.5%; after you graduate, the interest rate is based on your income. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Earning: £27,295 or less; Interest rate: the Retail Price Index (or RPI*, which is currently 1.5%)
Earning: £27,296 to £49,130; Interest rate: RPI + up to 3% (this percentage is based on your earnings; higher earning = higher percentage)
Earning: £49,131+; Interest rate: RPI + 3%
While this may sound scary, it doesn’t affect how much you pay back (this is dictated by how much you earn); instead the interest rate affects how much is left to pay. And remember, the loan is completely written off after 30 years. It may be helpful to think of interest on student loans as more of a time extension to the graduate tax.
*RPI is an inflation measure that accounts for rising costs of living; this percentage fluctuates.
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*All the information provided on this page is accurate as of May 2022.