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Frequently asked questions

This page answers common questions we are asked by students.

The information on this page is for students studying at universities and colleges in England only.

For basic information about bursaries and scholarships such as what they are, how much you can get and how to apply for them, see our ‘Financial support from your university‘ section.

I’m hoping to go to university.  How will I afford it?

You don’t have to pay tuition fees upfront. Instead, you can take out a government loan to cover the full cost. You only have to start repaying this loan when you’re earning over £21,000, and the amount you pay is based on what you’re earning, not on the amount that you borrowed. So if you’re earning £25,000, you’ll have to repay £30 a month, regardless of the size of loan you’ve got left to repay. If your income falls below £21,000 – for example if you take some time out to go travelling, or change to a lower-paid job – you can take a break from repayments.

You could also get loans and/or non-repayable grants to help with living costs. Some of these come from the government and some come from universities and colleges. For more information, see ‘What state financial support am I entitled to?‘and ‘Financial support from your university’.

There are also many other scholarships and bursaries from other sources such as charities: for more information or check out the guide on the Which? University website, including real-life tips from students who’ve claimed these awards in the past.

For more info and advice on where and how to get money to support yourself while you study and/or pay your fees, see our list of useful links.

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I started my course before September 2012. Will I have to pay the new higher tuition fees of up to £9,000?

If you started your course in the 2011-12 academic year or before, you will continue to pay the same fees as you do now (subject to annual inflationary increases) for the full length of your course. This also applies if you progress from a foundation degree/HND course to a bachelors degree (‘top up’), provided there is no gap in your study other than your vacation period.

But in some circumstances your university or college may designate you as a ‘new student’, in which case you’ll be subject to the new fees and student support system. These circumstances may include:

Not all institutions will do this, though, so it is worth checking with the university or college if you are considering doing any of these things.

For more information see the government website

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I’m confused about the new student finance and fees system that started in September 2012. Where can I find out more information?

Our list of useful links tells you where to get more info on tuition fees and student finance.

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I’m thinking of studying for a degree part-time. What help is available for part-time students?

Part-time students are eligible for government loans to cover the cost of tuition fees. You only have to start repaying this loan when you’re earning over £21,000 and then your repayments are based on only 9 per cent of your income. So if you’re earning £25,000, you’ll have to repay £30 a month.

You can also get loans to help with living costs. See ‘What state financial support am I entitled to?‘ and the Independent Student Finance Taskforce. However, part-time students are not eligible for the non-repayable maintenance grants available to full-time students.

For more information on government-funded student finance for part-time students, see

On top of this, individual universities and colleges offer bursaries and scholarships– see ‘Financial support from your university’ for more information.

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Can OFFA give me a bursary?

OFFA does not award bursaries – we approve and monitor the bursary packages that English universities and colleges offer. Bursaries and scholarships are awarded by individual universities and colleges.

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What state financial support am I entitled to?

Each year, you can get two Government loans – one to cover the cost of your tuition fees in full, and one to help with your living costs. You only start to pay back your loans once you’ve left your course and are earning more than £21,000 a year, and then your repayments are based on 9 per cent of what you’re earning (not what you borrowed). So if you’re earning £25,000, you’ll have to repay £30 a month. These loans are available to full-time and part-time students.

Full-time students starting courses in the 2015-16 academic year (or who started earlier) are also eligible for grants to help with living costs, which you do not have to repay. If your household/parents’ income is less than £25,000, you will be eligible for a full Maintenance Grant of £3,354 a year. If your household/parents’ income is £25,000-£42,611, you will be eligible for a partial grant (i.e. a lesser amount). Maintenance Grants are not available to part-time students.

For more information, see the Student Finance section on the government website It has a student finance calculator that can give you a personalised quote for how much money you could get while studying. The Which? University website also has a lot of useful information about student finance.

If you are leaving local authority care and you’re going into higher education, you may be able to get a one-off bursary of £2,000 from your local authority. See the Young people leaving care section on the Government website for more information.

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Will getting a bursary affect my eligibility for Government loans and grants?

No. However large your bursary is, it will not affect your eligibility for the state Maintenance Grant or for loans to cover your tuition fees and help you with living costs.

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I receive social security benefits. Will they be cut if I get a bursary from my university or college?

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will not count an institutional bursary as income when calculating benefits such as income support and housing benefit, providing that:

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When can I apply for state financial support?

You can apply now for state financial support for the coming academic year – you don’t need a confirmed place at university or college. The body that deals with this is Student Finance England. For more information see If you’ve already applied for student finance but need to make some changes (for example, you’re studying a different course), you can also do this online.

For regular updates via Twitter or Facebook, see!/sf_england or

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What is the ‘minimum bursary’?

Before 2012-13, English universities and colleges who charged higher tuition fees had to give a minimum bursary to students who normally live in England and were entitled to receive the full state Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant. In 2011-12, the minimum bursary was £338 although in practice, most universities and colleges gave much more than the minimum bursary – the typical bursary given to students on the full maintenance grant in 2011-12 was around £900 a year. Students who started their course in 2011-12 or before continue to be entitled to receive a minimum bursary; no other students are eligible for it now.

Universities and colleges also give lots of financial support in the form of bursaries, accommodation discounts etc. Many also offer fee waivers, which reduce the tuition fee you are charged. Check with individual universities to see what they’re offering.

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I’m an overseas/EU student – what bursaries can I apply for?

You need to contact your university/college (or the university/college you’re applying to) for information about any financial support available to you.

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I come from Wales/Scotland/Northern Ireland – what am I entitled to?

Most universities and colleges give the same bursary package to all their UK students. For details, check with the university/college in question.

For information on state support entitlement, see:

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I’ve been contacted by my university who say I need to ‘consent to share’ my financial information – what does this mean?

When you fill in your Student Finance Application Form, you (and your parents if applicable) can choose whether or not to ‘consent to share’ your financial information with your university/college. If you do not consent to share this information, your university/college may not be able to see if you are entitled to a bursary.

If you have mistakenly ticked the box refusing to share your information, contact the relevant Student Loans Company helpline below:

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I haven’t been accepted on to the course I applied for – can you help?

No, this does not come under OFFA’s remit. You should take it up with the university or college in question.

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I have a complaint about my university – can you help?

Please see our Complaints section.

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