Parents' guide to student finance and funding

Understanding loans, funding options and budgets

Change organised in piles next to a calculator

We understand that you might be concerned by the cost of university in the UK. Doing a bit of research and planning will help give you a clear picture of the up-front costs, ongoing costs and the financial help available. This guide to university finance for parents includes information on government loans and funding options.

Understanding the funding options available

Funding options available for university students

You can find answers to some of the most common student finance and funding-related questions below.

How much does university tuition cost in the UK?

Tuition fees vary throughout the UK. For UK residents in England, universities can charge up to £9,250 a year for an undergraduate degree.  

Fees for international students vary too, but start from around £10,000 per year.

Learn more: UK undergraduate fees at Ravensbourne

Learn morefunding for international students

What is the typical cost of living in London for a student?

The cost of living in London is greater in comparison to the rest of the UK, owed to it being a capital city with so much to offer in terms of employment opportunities and entertainment. 

The National Union of Students (NUS) has estimated that the average rent spend per year is around £8,875 in London – up from an average of £5,928 in the rest of the UK.

View of Tate Modern on South Bank


available funding

What government-funded loans are available to UK students?

When it comes to funding their studies, your child's first port of call should be the Student Loans Company (SLC). The widely used scheme provide loans to help your child cover both their tuition fees and university living costs.

Tuition fee loan

Many students enrolling in their first undergraduate degree will be eligible for a tuition fee loan. This will cover the cost of their university degree. 

Student Finance will pay upfront tuition costs and pay them directly to your child's university each academic year. 

Tuition fees are not means tested, meaning the amount awarded for tuition fees is not dependent on how much you earn as a parent. 

Maintenance loan

A maintenance loan is the amount available to borrow to help pay for your child's living expenses while they are studying. 

This can help to pay for their university accommodation costs and will be deposited straight into your child's bank in three instalments throughout the year – once every term.

Unlike the tuition fee loans, this is means tested, meaning it's calculated based on how much you earn per year. This means that there is support available, no matter what your family's individual financial situation. 

Subsidising loans

People often ask: do parents pay for university? While not all parents and guardians are able to subsidise university loans, it's of course beneficial to the child if the family is able to contribute some of the costs associated with studying and living in England. This will help to reduce the cost of future repayments for your child. 

How can I calculate the amount my child will be given for their tuition fee and maintenance loans?

The amount of loan that your child is eligible for will depend on several factors such as:

  • Where they are studying 
  • Whether they are studying for an undergraduate (UG) or postgraduate (PG) course
  • What the household income is

Example: An undergraduate student choosing to study in London will be awarded the full tuition fee loan (£9,250). If they are living away from home in London, they will also be awarded around £11,672 for their maintenance loan. This will be given in three different instalments, once at the beginning of every term.

Additional funding options

There are also a number of additional funding options available for students. These are based on the student's individual situation. This includes extra support from the university for families with financial hardship or for students with disabilities.

To estimate how much you can expect your child to receive in funding based on your specific circumstances, you can use the Student Finance calculator.

Student finance

Amazon stock image - Amazon bursary

Student loans must be applied to via the government's student finance scheme. It's important to make sure your child meets all the student finance deadlines, as failure to do so could mean they receive their loans late. This can cause all kinds of disruption to their lives and studies.

When is the deadline to apply for student finance for undergraduates?

Applications to Student Finance for tuition fees must be completed at least eight weeks before your child's course begins. Students can begin their application and find more information on student funding at Student Finance England.

How are repayments for student finance structured?

Students are responsible for paying back their tuition and maintenance loans after they graduate. They will begin making repayments from the 1 April after they graduate, but only if they are earning enough.

In England, this limit is £25,725 a year, and this means that they will only be expected to start paying back their loans once they can afford to. 

Funding for further education and postgraduate students

Further education fees and funding 

Further education funding works in the same way that undergraduate funding does. This means that the Student Loans Company (SLC) will pay the tuition fees directly to the university and your child will eventually have to pay the money back in instalments.

Learn morefurther Education fees and funding

Postgraduate fees and funding 

The funding options available for postgraduate courses are a little different to undergraduate degree courses.

Unlike undergraduate loans where the Student Loans Company (SLC) pays the university the tuition fees directly, for Master's courses the money is paid directly to the student. The student is then responsible for paying the university.

Learn morepostgraduate fees and funding

Financial support available for EU or international students 

The tuition fees and range of financial support available is different for home, European Union (EU) or international students. If you're not sure where your child fits in, visit the UKCISA website for more information.

You can also find more information about international tuition fees and scholarships and bursaries for international students and the process of applying to Ravensbourne.