Everything You Need To Know About Student Finance And Tuition Fees In 2022
Everything You Need To Know About Student Finance And Tuition Fees In 2022

Student Finance Guide 2024

Feeling overwhelmed thinking about student finance? We’ve got you covered. 

If you’re moving to uni, it’s probably the first time you’ve had to manage your money and finances. From sorting out your student finance applications to working out how to budget and save money, it’s a lot. On the surface, student finance feels complex and confusing. But we’ve broken it down so you’ll find applying for student finance, and managing your money each year easier to understand. 

With nearly half of students struggling with their finances at uni, it’s really important to find out how to manage your money as effectively as you can. Being upfront with yourself about how much money you have is often the first step to financial literacy, but it’s so easy to bury your head in the sand. Research shows that the earlier you start learning about your finances, the more confident you’ll be with managing your money. But if you’re about to move to uni and have no idea where to start, then that’s what we’re here for. 

We know that talking about money is often seen in the UK as a taboo subject. But when only 47% of adults in the UK scored five or more out of seven financial knowledge questions (compared to the OECD average of 63%) then we have to start thinking about why we’re not talking about money more. 

Going to uni is one of the milestones of your life, it’s an exciting time where you can meet so many new people and experience independence for the first time. But financial difficulties are the second biggest reason why people drop out of university. You know what they say, knowledge is power. So clueing up on all things money and finance means you could feel more confident to manage your money during your time at uni. 

If you feel more confident managing your money while you’re a student, this could set you up for success after you complete your studies. 

So let’s dive right in.

In this article:

Person at laptop

Your student finance FAQs

How does student finance work?

A student loan refers to a tuition fee loan or maintenance loan that is lent to a student to pay for their university and/or living costs while they study. You may have also heard them referred to as a SLC disbursement. SLC stands for Student Loans Company, who arranges the loans. 

Your tuition fees are set by the university and when you’ve applied for these loans, the money will be sent straight to your university without it entering your bank account. Your maintenance loan is what you’ll receive to live on each term. 

To make it a little bit more confusing, student loans have had different terms placed on them over the years. So depending on where and when you went to university, you might be on a different plan. We have a comprehensive guide to student loan plans which breaks down each plan and their repayment terms. 

When should I apply for student finance?

You can apply for student finance for the 2024/25 year online now. It’s best to get it sorted as soon as you can so that you are all prepared ready for when your course starts. But if you’re a bit late to get started, then don’t panic. You can still apply for student finance up to 9 months after your course starts. 

When does your course start?Apply for student finance by:
Between 1st August and 31st December31st May after your course starts
Between 1st January and 31st March30th September after your course starts
Between 1st April and 30th June31st December after your course starts
Between 1st July and 31st July31st March after your course starts
Table showing student finance deadlines

Need a step-by-step walkthrough of applying for student finance? We’ve answered all of your most-pressing student finance questions in detail. 

Applying for student finance can be done even from your bed

When does student finance get paid?

Your student finance will get paid out in three instalments to match the three terms of the academic year. As we mentioned, you won’t see your tuition fees land in your bank account but you can watch out for the maintenance loan when it drops. 

The payment dates might vary depending on your course and university but generally speaking they follow the same pattern. 

  • First payment: September
  • Second payment: January
  • Third payment: April

Our guide to student finance payment dates gives more detail into when you’ll get your maintenance loan and tips to watch out for. 

How much student loan will I get?

Once you find out your eligibility for student finance, you might be wondering how much you’ll be entitled to. Your tuition fees will be covered to the full amount, so that’s one less thing to worry about. 

Your maintenance loan will be determined by a few things including:

  • Your age
  • Your parent’s income
  • Whether you’re a UK citizen 
  • Your location

You can find out more about how much you’ll be entitled to, when it’s paid and how it’s calculated in our maintenance loan guide

How do you contact student finance?

There’s a few ways to contact student finance depending on where you are in the UK.

Student Finance England:

Contact number: 0300 100 0607

Text relay (if you cannot hear or speak on the phone): 18001 then 0300 100 0607

Monday to Friday: 8am – 8pm

Saturday: 9am – 4pm

Sunday: 9am – 4pm

Chat to an advisor online: Monday to Friday 9am – 6pm

You can also check the status of your application online.

Student Finance Wales:

Contact number: 0300 200 4050

Monday to Friday: 8am – 6pm

Chat to an advisor online: Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm

You can sign into your online account here.

Student Awards Agency Scotland:

Contact number: 0300 555 0505

Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 9am – 4pm

Webchat open: Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm

Check the status of your application online.

Student Finance NI:

Contact number: 0300 100 0077

Monday to Friday: 8am – 8pm

Saturday and Sunday: 9am – 4pm

You can also log in to check your application.

Man on the phone to student finance in the hallway

How to pay for university

A huge part of managing your money at uni begins even before you arrive for freshers. The mere mention of student finance is enough to generate a collective groan from students across the country. It’s hard enough making big decisions about your future, but add endless paperwork into the equation? Ugh. 

Applying for student finance can feel overwhelming, especially if it’s the first time you’ve had to fill out lots of paperwork. There’s a few steps to your student finance, which include:

  • Checking your eligibility for student loans
  • Finding out how much you could get
  • Preparing and applying for student finance
  • Reapplying every year you study 

We’ve got a detailed step-by-step guide to applying for student finance which has everything you need to know about keeping on top of your application. And if this is your first time hearing some of the student finance jargon too, you’re not alone. So we have all you need to know to keep in the loop with SLC disbursements.

When you’re at university, keep an eye on your student finance payment dates, as this will help you budget for the rest of the term.

Alternatives to student finance

Student loans are the best way to cover the cost of university, but in some rare cases you may not be eligible for one or you may feel like you don’t feel comfortable taking out a loan. 

While taking out a student loan isn’t a debt that will stick with you for life, you may still want to look into alternatives. On the other hand, you may be taking out a student loan but want an additional income source if you feel like your loan isn’t going to cover all of your living costs.

  • Grants: depending on whether you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you may be eligible for grants, which is a payment from the government that you won’t need to pay back
  • Overdrafts: make sure to open a student bank account with an overdraft, to help give you access to extra money if you’re running low on cash for emergencies
  • Part-time jobs: a part-time job can help to cover the costs of your rent and day-to-day expenses
  • Scholarships and bursaries: you may be eligible for additional funding or support, which is definitely something to look into 

You can find some of the best grants and bursaries in the UK in our helpful guide.

How do I budget my money at university?

Getting to grips with student finance is one thing, but managing your money is another. Enter the trusty budget. We know, it’s not exactly a sexy topic. Trust us though, if you’re keen on getting a handle on your money at uni, then a budget will be your new best friend. 

What does budgeting look like as a student

The main things you’ll need to do to work out your budget are:

  • Working out your income (your student loan and any part-time work or side hustles you work on)
  • Working out all your outgoings, from non-negotiable expenses (like your rent) to things like gym memberships or clothes shopping

In simple terms, you subtract your expenses from your income, which will give you an idea of how much money you’ll have left. It’s good to be brutally honest with yourself so you can set a realistic expectation to how much money you spend and save. There’s lots of ways to budget as a student so it’s worth finding a system that works for you.  

Ways to save your money as a student

Once you’ve figured out your budget and know how much you have to spend, it’s time to try and make it last! Some of the areas you’ll want to be aware of include:

  • Any extra financial help you can get
  • Setting up your student bank account
  • Freebies, discounts and more!

We know that being a student is really tough right now, so any extra financial help you can get is a bonus. There are grants and bursaries across the UK that can help towards travel costs, allowances for students with disabilities and more. But sometimes it’s not very clear what’s actually on offer, so you can explore our guide to different student grants and bursaries to find out what extra help you’ll be eligible for. 

Making sure your current account works for you 

If you’re like us, you’ve probably had the same bank account since you first opened one, so this could be new territory for you. But it’s really worth exploring current accounts specifically designed for students. These often come with added extras like free railcards, tastecards or even cashback, so you can save money in other areas while benefiting from an interest-free overdraft. What’s not to like? 

We get it though, there are SO MANY bank accounts out there, that it’s hard to know where to start. So we’ve done the hard work of pulling together some of the best student bank accounts in the UK, with all their offers listed, to make that choice a bit easier. 

Don’t forget about student discounts and deals

Who would we be if we didn’t call out the amazing discounts you can get on all of your favourite brands with your Student Beans student discount

It seems really obvious, but exploring what brands you can get a discount with before you make a purchase is a really good way to keep a handle on your finances. By keeping up this habit it’ll become second nature before long, which means you’ll always be getting the best possible deal on anything you have to buy. 

Student at university holding her books

What about student loan repayments?

It’s worth getting to grips with student finance and how it works, as most students will be paying it off for most of their working lives. And when it comes to repaying your student loan, understanding how it works means there’s no surprises!

Luckily, you don’t need to start repaying it right away, and definitely not all at once. Each type of student loan plan has specific repayment thresholds. Not sure about which plan you’re on? If you’re a new student in England, you’ll be on Plan 5, but you can find a more detailed article all about the different student loan plans

As to what happens if you don’t pay off your student loan, after a certain period of time, your student loan will get written off. This depends on what plan you’re on, and where you live, but 39% of students are predicted never to pay it off (if you started in 2023).

To help you every step of the way in your university journey, we’ve got a range of resources in our Money section from answering your most pressing questions about your student finance application, to figuring out how on Earth you budget your money. 

Find the latest finance discounts and deals on Student Beans