The Office for Fair Access closed at the end of 31 March 2018 and responsibility for higher education access regulation transferred to the Office for Students

Frequently asked questions (students and parents)

Answers to common queries we receive from students, potential students, their parents and advisers

The information on this page applies to students studying at universities and colleges in England only. 

For explanations of technical terms such as ‘access agreement’, ‘higher fees’, ‘basic fee’ etc, see our Glossary

If you’re looking for help with the cost of going to university or college click here

If your question isn’t answered on our website, you can Contact us.

Am I covered by my university or college’s access agreement?

Access agreements cover home/EU students studying full-time, or at least 25 per cent of a full-time course, on publicly funded undergraduate courses and postgraduate teacher training courses. Other postgraduate courses do not fall under OFFA’s remit. 

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

OFFA’s remit only covers students who normally live in England so if you are not resident in England we recommend you check with the university/college in question whether they can offer you a bursary or other support.

For information on what state support you are entitled to, see:

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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 loans to cover your tuition fees and help you with living costs, or for Government grants and allowances.

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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 a bursary from a university or college 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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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’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, there is a box that you (and your parents if applicable) can tick to say that you refuse permission for Student Finance to share the information you’ve given on the form with your university/college. If you tick this box, your university/college may not be able to see if you are entitled to a bursary, so they won’t be able to give you the money you’re entitled to.

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

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What powers does OFFA have and when would it use them?

There are two sanctions open to us if a university or college seriously and wilfully breaches its access agreement. We can:

We will only use the sanctions listed above if, in our opinion, a university or college has committed a serious and wilful breach of its access agreement, for example by charging higher fees than set out in its access agreement or by failing to deliver the outreach and retention measures it has committed itself to. We would not impose a sanction solely because a university or college has not met the targets or milestones it has set in its access agreement.

When looking at a potential breach, we consider each case individually, taking into account the efforts made to comply with the access agreement. For example, if a university or college spends less than intended on outreach because of unavoidable delays in implementing a project, we will want to be sure of its future outreach expenditure, but we would be unlikely to apply a sanction. Similarly, if a university makes a mistake in delivering financial support to students, we would require it to rectify the situation and pay any shortfall, but we would not necessarily apply a fine.

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