It’s not all about fees and furrowed brows – if you’re applying for higher education, there’s free money that you may be able to claim. First up: grants.
Grants ensure that students aren’t excluded from education because of costs. They constitute the ‘magical’ part of student finance: they don’t need to be paid back but getting your hands on the full amount can seem harder than pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
Grants ensure that students aren’t excluded from education because of costs
Your first port of call should be a Maintenance Grant. The cash pot varies by country and is means tested, so the higher your family income, the less you’ll receive. Grants are paid in instalments at the start of each term and usually within a few days of officially enrolling on your course. In the first year, you may arrive at uni before your grant or loan does, so you might want to get some other cash together before you get there.
What can you apply for?
England and Northern Ireland
Maintenance Grants offer a share of up to £3,354 (England) or £3,475 (NI) per year for family incomes of up to around £40k. Any Grant you get will reduce the amount of loan you can apply for.
A means-tested Assembly Learning Grant (ALG) is for living expenses of up to £5k per year. You’ll need a family income of under £50k to get a stake of it and anything you do get may reduce the amount of Student Loan you’re entitled to. You may be eligible for SSG (Special Support Grant – see box) instead of ALG.
A Young Students’ Bursary awards up to £1,750 a year on family incomes of less than £17k (you can get a proportion of the bursary on family incomes of less than £34k). It also reduces the amount of Maintenance Loan you may get. Independent students can apply for a bursary of up to £750, with more loan support to make up the difference from the Young Students’ Bursary.
Supplementary grants are available for students in particular circumstances – single parents, disabilities, etc.
The amount of Maintenance Loan you can apply for is reduced by the amount of any Maintenance Grant you get. The Special Support Grant for students receiving means-tested benefits isn’t counted as income (so won’t affect your benefits) and doesn’t reduce the amount of Student Loan you can apply for either. You can apply for either the Maintenance Loan or the equivalent amount of SSG.