You're probably already aware that higher education has a financial cost. This can put many prospective students off the idea of progressing into higher education.

For example, you may not be sure how to pay for higher education or how you’ll be able to manage financially during your studies.

In this section we'll demystify common misbeliefs and myths about student finance and showcase the range of financial support available. Although there is a cost, ultimately you might want to see it as an investment into your future.

The information on this page is about the financial support available for students who live in England. Those who live outside of England will have different funding schemes available to help support them financially while they're a student. Read more on the UCAS website.

Student finance: fact or myth?

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MYTH: universities can charge up to £9,250 a year for tuition fees, but there are no upfront costs for students.

FACT: yes, all students can receive a loan from the government to cover the cost of their fees, paid directly to their university. This is called a tuition fee loan. 

MYTH: all students are entitled to a maintenance loan to help with their living costs and it is entirely up to you how you want to spend it. The amount you receive is based on your household income. The loan is paid in three instalments, at the start of each term, directly into your bank account (you even receive a text from Student Finance to let you know what day it is due to be paid into your account!)

FACT: there are grants and bursaries available from colleges and universities to help support students who may face financial or personal difficulties. Grants and bursaries are sums of money that are awarded in addition to a maintenance loan and don't need to be paid back.

MYTH: your loan is written off after 30 years, meaning most students will never pay it all back.

MYTH: you don’t have to start paying back your loan until you are earning over £26,575 a year. You only repay nine per cent of your income over this amount. For example, if you earn £27,000, you will pay £38.25 a year - that’s £3.20 a month! Your repayment is taken directly from your wage so you don’t need to worry about transferring it to Student Finance yourself.

FACT: gaining a degree will give you more career options, and a graduate is less likely to be unemployed than a non-graduate. It's estimated that graduates earn £168,000 more over their lifetime than non-graduates.

Find out what happens once you have applied for student finance.

Repaying your student loan

You're not expected to start paying back your loan until you have finished your studies and are earning over a certain amount of money. When you do begin to pay back your loan, it is only a small fraction of your income taken out of your salary once every month. Your loan will be written off after 30 years.

Your student loan debt won't affect any future life choices, meaning that it's a safe way to get financial help while studying.

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Find out how repayment works.

Budgeting tips

While you're a student there are many important things you need to pay for, such as rent, bills, food and socialising. To make sure you're able to do all these things you can budget, planning how you will spend your money.

Excel spreadsheets are a student budget's best friend! You can map out your incomes and outgoings and set budgets for different things such as social activities and food shopping.

Abi, 3rd Year Molecular Cell Biology

Something I find really helps save money is bulk cooking! I will do a £30 food shop and have it delivered so there’s not too much to carry back from the shops, then cook a few big meals such as chilli, curry, bolognese. After they have cooled down, I split them into portions, put some in the fridge and freeze the rest to eat later.

Georgia, 2nd Year English Language and Linguistics

Set yourself a weekly spending limit. Calculate your incomings (eg your student loan) and outgoings (eg accommodation fees). Be kind with your limit. Set money aside to treat yourself! After a week of lectures, you deserve to do something for enjoyment such as a meal in with your new university friends. Once you've set your weekly limit though try to stick to it.

Etleva, 1st Year Chemistry

Non-branded items are the key! We all love branded items from Nutella to Heinz beans, but being a student means little sacrifices go a long way. Try to buy the supermarket's own brands and you will be surprised how much you can save!

Sandhiya, 3rd Year Environmental Science

Try and keep a saving goal in mind for something you really want, be it clothes, concert tickets or even a holiday! Just putting a small amount away, perhaps when you get paid if you have a job or a set amount every month. Having something to look forward to will motivate you to save throughout the year.

Henna, 3rd Year Politics

My top tip for budgeting at university is to save money before you attend. Get a part-time job during the summer and save what you can. Student finance will not be in your account for a few days until you've arrived at university, so you'll need to have some money to buy food and enjoy fresher's activities.

Ben, 2nd Year Sociology with Criminology

Get a savings account! You will be able to manage your money more effectively as you’ll have an account for ‘fun’ things which will be separate from money for things like bills or accommodation fees.

Anika, Masters Global Marketing

Meal plan for the week - create a basic skeleton of what you plan to eat for the next week so you can make an efficient shopping list that ensures you're staying within your budget and not buying too many unnecessary items. I always allow a bit of wiggle room for treats as I think this is important and we all deserve it!

Olivia, 2nd Year English Language and Linguistics

Activity one: vote for your favourite budgeting tip

Make sure you've read the ambassador's tips and vote for your favourite one!

Complete the first activity

Activity two: basket budgeting

There's a lot of independence that comes with being a student. One of the most important is learning how to look after yourself and making sure you're staying healthy, buying your own food and eating well.

Now is your chance to step into the shoes of a student and do your first student food shop! Your task is to top up on essential food items and get some snacks for a film night with your flatmates this weekend. You'll have the opportunity to choose the type of items on your shopping list and discover which products can save you money and which are surprisingly expensive

Complete the second activity

Let’s recap!

Recap with our Graduate Ambassador, Hollie, and see just how much information you now know.

Make sure you click through to see Hollie's full tips.

Undergraduate students pay a yearly tuition fee to study their chosen course at university. There's also living costs associated with going to university such as accommodation fees, weekly food shop, bills, academic materials and social activities. There's help available for all students which makes it affordable for everyone!

Read more info and tips from Hollie about student finance.

Contact us

Leave a message in the Community Chat. If you'd rather email, the team are available Monday to Friday and will respond as quickly as possible.