Thursday, 28 March 2013

Student Finance: your questions answered

Last week we asked you on Twitter and Facebook what questions you wanted us to put to Student Finance England. We've now picked a selection of your responses to try and represent as wide a range of your concerns and situations as possible and put them to Mark-Lee Kelly their Communications & Social Media Assistant.

“What does approved mean? Have you paid the uni or not?”
The approved application status means that your application has been processed and that payments are ready to be made.

You can check whether your university has been paid from your online account.  To do this you should log in to your online account then go to My Account > View Payments at
Student Finance England expert
Mark-Lee Kelly

“When is the deadline for 'evidence'?”
There’s no specific deadline date for evidence to be received, however we would advise you to send it in ASAP! The sooner you send the evidence that’s been requested, the sooner we’ll be able to get your application fully processed and let you know what you’ll be receiving.

When evidence is required this means that we cannot process your application until it has been received.

“Why can’t I register for a new account?”
A student finance account is linked to the account holder’s National Insurance Number.  This means that each person holds one account for the length of their study and their repayment period. 

You may be able to find out your login details to the account you hold by using our ‘forgotten your login details’ link on the login page at If this isn’t possible then one of our telephone advisers will be able confirm your Customer Reference Number over the phone on 0845 300 5090, and then they’ll email a new password and secret answer to you.

“Why has the finance application not taken into account that there is no NHS bursary for the first year for Social Work BA students?”
Social work students are able to apply for full support from SFE including tuition fee loan, maintenance loan and maintenance grant based on household income, regardless of which year of their course they are in. 

It sounds as though you might not have applied for a grant when you were completing your application.  On the ‘Your estimate’ page of the application there’s a link that says ‘continue based on household income’ which needs to have been clicked to make sure that household income is taken into account.

Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten to do this as you can still request for household income to be considered. 
To make the change you’ll need to complete and send us this form.

Your parents or partner can supply financial details to support your application by completing this form too (please note that we’ll need separate copies for each parent in your household!)

“Mum doesn't have the P60 that they ask for. What else can I do?”
There are a few alternatives that your mum may be able to send us if she doesn’t have her P60:

  • a copy of a Statement of Earnings for the relevant tax year that can be requested from HMRC
  • a copy of the month 12 payslip showing the full tax year’s earnings on it (this is the last payslip from the tax year, usually issued in March)
  • copies of the full tax year’s payslips from April to the following March

Why do they need to know my mum’s P60 from 2009? We were in Spain and don't know it!”
It sounds as though we need proof of your mum’s earning level for your grant application from the 2009 tax year. 
If your mum had an income from the UK in 2009 there are a few alternatives that she may be able to send us if she doesn’t have her P60:
  • a copy of a Statement of Earnings for the relevant tax year that can be requested from HMRC
  • a copy of the month 12 payslip showing the full tax year’s earnings on it (this is the last payslip from the tax year, usually issued in March)
  • copies of the full tax year’s payslips from April to the following March

If your mum had an income from Spain in 2009 she will need to provide the Spanish equivalent of a P60 to prove her income amount.

“Do I need to give bank details if I'm only applying for tuition fee loan?”
Tuition fee loan instalments are paid directly to your university so you don’t need to supply bank details if you are only receiving this type of finance.

“Does the passport you need for identification purposes need to be in date or can it have expired? With the sending of our birth certificate I presume they will send it back to us as you only want originals?”
Yes, passports need to be in date to be used as proof of identity. 

Birth certificates will be sent back to you once they have been processed.  It’s worth noting that if you are sending your birth certificate you will need to send a Birth Certificate Form along with it.

“When can we start applying? Can I apply before I'll accept an offer (still waiting for the last response)?”
Applications for full time student finance are now open. The deadline for new students is 31 May, so it’s a good idea to apply as soon as possible. 

You should include the details of the course you’re most likely to attend on your application. You can update this later if your course changes.

“Are there are any plans to introduce a fourth payment for health science students due to the fact we are in university/on placement for several more weeks than other courses and this prevents us from being able to find work when other students can during the summer holidays?”
The payment dates for each course are given to us by the university or college where the course is being studied.

Students whose academic year exceeds 30 weeks and 3 days in length receive an 'extra weeks' portion of Maintenance Loan.  To qualify for this your application must also be based on household income.  The amount that’s awarded for each extra week will depend on where you are studying, which year of study you are in and whether you live at home or away.

“In relation to the four year cap on support, why is it that even if I have funded one year myself, it still counts as one of those four years? (I took two part-time Cert HE courses, the first was funded by PTG1 and the second was funded by myself - but I’m now in a situation where I can't do a degree because only years 2 and 3 will be covered.”

There isn’t specifically a four-year cap on student finance as students are entitled to receive funding for the length of their course plus one extra year that can be used for a false start or resit year. 
We have to take any previous studying into account when calculating your entitlement for student finance.  This includes self-funded study and study at course providers outside the UK too.

“Why are full-time mature students assumed to have the same financial commitments as younger students. The current method of computer-generated payments by instalments does not meet the needs of mature students whose financial commitments are completely different. Mature students operate larger budgets often with dependent children and/or relatives. The appeal process is also humiliating.”

Regardless of whether a student is mature or not, if they have children or adult dependants they’re able to apply for extra non-repayable support to help with these additional costs.
Extra support includes:

  • Parent’s Learning Allowance,
  • Adult Dependent Grant;  and
  • Childcare Grant

There’s lots of information on eligibility, entitlement and how to apply for these types of funding here.

“I am a first-time applicant. I want to know the deadline for 2013/2014 applications. Someone told me that it’s 31st March 2013. Is this correct?”
The deadline for new students in the 13/14 academic year is 31 May 2013. The deadline is in place to encourage you to apply as soon as possible to help ensure that your funding is in place when you start university.

“Can EU students apply for student loans online, through the website or do they have to fill in the paper form and send it via post?”
EU students can apply online for student finance if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years or more prior to 1 September 2013.

EU students who don’t meet the above criteria need to apply using a paper application form that will be available to download from soon.

“Why does Student Finance England not take into account how many dependants my parents have as this greatly decreases how much financial support they can give me at uni?”
Student Finance England does take dependants into account when calculating your parents’ household income.

On the parents’ part of the application they are asked to provide the details of any other dependants that they are financially responsible for.

“I've applied for student finance already but purposefully left my bank details out because I want to do some shopping about for the best deal (which at the minute I doubt is my current bank). When will I definitely have to finalise my bank details?”
You’ll need to update your online account with your bank details at least five working days before your first payment is due. 

“If I'm an English student applying for a nursing degree in Scotland, is it correct that I get tuition fees paid by NHS and a bursary from SAAS? And am I entitled to a maintenance loan from SFE on top of this?”
English students studying nursing in Scotland will be have their tuition fees paid by the NHS and a non-repayable bursary supplied by Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) too.  Unfortunately they won’t receive any financial support from Student Finance England.

“If a British citizen living in an EU country, can we apply for maintenance grants as well as finance as a 'home' student would? I was told ‘yes’ as I have the right to roam around EU countries but have also heard conflicting information. Thanks.”
British students do have the ‘right to roam’ around the EU, meaning that as long as they’ve been resident within EU countries for 3 years prior to 1 September 2013 they can still apply for same student finance as home students.

The application is made in the same way online at

If you are a Scottish student with a place at an English uni, do we apply for our loan through SAAS or through the English system?”
If you’re a Scottish student who ordinarily lives in Scotland then you should apply for your student finance from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).

Friday, 15 March 2013

Student finance: Essential advice on completing your application

As UCAS applications are in that strange period of limbo where people are either patiently waiting for university offers or they've already replied to offers, thoughts are increasingly turning towards student finance and how and when to make the application.

In the first of two student finance blogs this month, Mark-Lee Kelly, Communications & Social Media Assistant at Student Finance England gives us an overview of how to make an application, what additional support you may be entitled to and what happens in terms of repayments:

Mark-Lee Kelly
Mark-Lee Kelly
What’s available?
Universities and colleges in the UK are able to charge different fees for their different courses, up to a maximum amount of £9,000 for a full time course.

Tuition fee loans are available to cover the costs of university fees and these are paid directly to the university or college, while maintenance loans are paid directly to you to help with living costs while you’re studying.  You may also be eligible to receive a non repayable maintenance grant if your household income was below £42,875 in the 11/12 tax year.

If you are a student with children, dependent adults or if you have a disability, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia, you may qualify for extra help on top of your main student finance package, depending on your circumstances. 

When should I apply?
Applications are open now and should be completed online as soon as possible at
You don’t need to have a confirmed university place to apply for student finance as you can enter your first choice of course which can be updated easily at a later date.

The deadline for new students is 31 May 2013 and 28 June for returning students.

What do I need to start applying?
 Before completing your application you’ll need to have the following to hand:

• UK passport number
• Bank account details
• National Insurance Number
• The university or college course details

There is a section for parents or partners to complete and it may help to have their National Insurance number to hand, if you’re applying for student finance based on the household income.

Should any evidence be requested we would advise sending it in straight away!

How does repayment work?
Repayments are only made once you have left university or college and are earning over the threshold. The amount that is paid is dependent on your income and not the amount that has been borrowed, each month you would pay back 9% of your income over the threshold.

The repayment of loans is administered through the tax system and the responsibility of administering repayments is shared between the Student Loans Company and Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The Student Loans Company undertakes the account maintenance and communication with borrowers who are repaying their loans. 

Collection is taken through the PAYE system with HMRC liaising with employers or the account holder (if self-employed) who will take repayments from taxable earnings and then allocate the amount to the loan account.

There is more information available about repaying a student loan at

Where can I find more info?
There’s lots of additional help and information about all aspects of student finance available.
You can use our Student Finance Calculator to get an estimate of the type of student finance you might be entitled to.  Don’t forget the more accurate the info you enter the more realistic the estimate we’ll give you.

There’s also lots of quick guides and information available on our dedicated Student Finance Zone at The Student Room as well as a live Q&A surgery every Wednesday where one of our expert advisers will answer your questions.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

January A level and AS level results: your next steps

Many of you will have recently received or will be receiving your A level/AS level results from the exams you sat in January. If you're not sure what to do with them and how to let your university choices know what you got, then this post should help you. But first this:

If your January results won't be cashed in by your school/college until the summer, then you don't need to take any further action. What you've done in January will be sent on to your unis with your summer results in August. If you have any doubts about when and how your results are cashed in then speak to your school.

If your winter results are being cashed in now, read on:

"I stated on my application that I would be sitting the exams in January."
UCAS will receive official confirmation of the results from your exam boards and process them over the next few weeks. However, we won't release them to your university choices until May. This allows for any re-marks or late cash-ins to be taken into account.

You don't really need to do anything with your results. However, if you want to, you can contact your unis and ask them if you can send them your results directly. It's then at their discretion as to whether they accept them from you or would prefer to wait for official notification from UCAS in May.

"I didn't mention that I would be sitting the January exams on my application."
If you didn't mention them on your application, then it's not that much of a problem. From the details we get from your exam boards, we should still be able to match up the results with your UCAS application and then send the results to your universities. However, to make certain that there are no problems with matching it all up you might want to email our qualifications team who can then update your application to show you sat the exams. Please note that they won't enter the results on your application just the fact you sat the exam.

If you've any other questions about it all then get in touch with our advisers on the UCAS Facebook page or on Twitter and they'll be happy to help.