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UK students

UK Students starting full-time undergraduate courses in 2018/19

We have prepared the following information for UK students who are going to be starting undergraduate courses with us in the 2018/19 academic year.

The main sources of funding are from the Student Finance system and from university scholarships, but there are other funding opportunities for certain courses and other financial issues that you might not have considered, such as a Council Tax reduction for full-time students. This guide will help you understand how much funding you will be entitled to, and how to go about applying for it.

And don’t forget, we have a dedicated team of expert Student Financial Consultants here at the University of Sunderland who can give you one-to-one support as and when you need it. 

The team can also guide you on other aspects of finance: such as how becoming a student will affect any welfare benefits that you receive, as well as other areas such as budgeting. We also devised a student budgeting app – the first of its kind from a UK university – called PANDA. The app helps you keep track of your finances, so that you always know how much money you have each week to make the most of your experience while you are a student at the University of Sunderland.

If you need any more information after reading this webpage, please contact us.

Applying for Student Finance

The majority of UK full-time students are funded by the ‘Student Finance’ system which provides assistance with paying tuition fees and a Maintenance Loan for living costs; alongside grants for students with dependants - outlined below – and extra support for Disabled Students.

Scottish students are funded through SAAS.

New undergraduates in 2018 will need to apply to their national Student Finance office. There are separate offices depending on whether you live in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. Details are available at www.gov.uk/student-finance where you can also apply online or download the application PN1. You should apply early – around March 2018 is the earliest – in order to be sure that you receive your funding at the start of the academic year in September 2018.

In order to be generally eligible for Student Finance funding you need to:

  • have ‘settled status’ in the UK*; and
  • have been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years before the start of the course*; and
  • be ordinarily resident in the UK at the start of the course.

*Refugees who have been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK do not need to fulfil the 3 years residence requirement; asylum seekers who have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, or Humanitarian Protection, do need to fulfil the 3 years residence requirement.

European citizens classed as EEA Migrant Workers (or their spouses or children), and EU nationals who have lived in the UK for 5 years before the start of their course, may also be eligible.  Certain European students are eligible for fees support only from the Student Loans Company EU Team – telephone 0141 243 3570 for a form or visit www.gov.uk/student-finance

Previous Study

Students who have already studied in full-time higher education – if they received government funding and/or studied at a publicly-funded Higher Education Institution – may not be eligible for, or may have only a limited eligibility to, the Loans/Grants outlined below. Also, if you have a previous degree qualification, you are generally excluded from receiving funding for a second degree course.

However, if you are looking to study a pre-registration Nursing course (e.g. BSc Adult Nursing Practice) your previous study will be disregarded, unless your previous study was also a pre-reg healthcare course for the same profession and you obtained the qualification. Only our degree courses in a Nursing discipline qualify for this exemption, not our other healthcare courses such as Paramedic Science or Healthcare Sciences. Seek our assistance if you are unsure about this, and see our Nursing funding webpage here .

Certain courses, such as Social Work and Medicine, have special regulations around previous study. In those cases, if you have a previous degree or equivalent level qualification, you will not receive any help towards the tuition fees, but you may still qualify for the Maintenance Loan. Again, seek our guidance if you are unsure about this.

Tuition Fees

A year’s tuition fee for most of our Honours degree courses will be £9250 in 2018/19.  For students resident in England, a Tuition Fee Loan will be available from Student Finance England to pay the fees.  This loan is not subject to any age restriction and does not depend on household income. You do not start to repay student loans until you are earning over £25,000 per year.

Maintenance Loan

As you will be aware, the government recently stopped paying the non-repayable Maintenance Grant to students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and instead increased the amount of Maintenance Loan available. Scottish students should visit www.saas.gov.uk for details of their Bursary scheme, as this uses different income scales.

In order to apply for the highest rates of Maintenance Loan you need to be aged under 60 at the start of the course, although a reduced rate is now available to those over 60. 

For English students, the maximum amount of Maintenance Loan will be available to students whose taxable ‘household income’ is assessed to be less than £25,000 per year.

The maximum rates of Maintenance Loan are £8,700 for students not living with their parents whilst studying (the ‘elsewhere’ rate), or £7,324 for students living with their parents whilst studying.  A minimum amount of Loan is paid if your household income is above the thresholds shown below – this is the non-income-assessed part of the Loan:

Indicative levels of Maintenance Loan at ‘Elsewhere’ rate of Loan: 

Income                             Loan           

£25,000                             £8,700         

£30,000                             £8,076         

£35,000                             £7,452         

£40,000                             £6,828         

£45,000                             £6,204         

£50,000                             £5,579         

£55,000                             £4,955         

£60,000                             £4,331         

£62,215+                           £4,054  (minimum)


Indicative levels of Maintenance Loan at ‘Parental Home’ rate of Loan:

Income                             Loan           

£25,000                             £7,324         

£30,000                             £6,707         

£35,000                             £6,090         

£40,000                             £5,473         

£45,000                             £4,855         

£50,000                             £4,238         

£55,000                             £3,621         

£58,215+                           £3,224  (minimum) 

Household Income

Your parents’ income (including that of your natural parent’s spouse/partner with whom you live) is assessed unless you qualify for ‘Independent Status’. You can be classed as ‘independent’ from parents, and therefore their income is not counted, if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • you are 25 or over at the start of the academic year; or
  • you have been married before the start of the academic year; or
  • you have financially supported yourself for at least 3 years before the start of your course (you will need to show evidence of earnings / welfare benefits); or
  • you have no living parents; or
  • you are responsible for a child/children; or
  • you are ‘irreconcilably estranged’ from your parents.

If you are married, or you are aged 25 or over and living with a partner, then your spouse/partner’s income is taken into account in assessing your entitlement to the Maintenance Loan.

The gross taxable income 2016/17 of your parent(s)/spouse/partner is taken into account, but any payments made into a personal pension fund which is subject to tax relief are ignored, and £1130 will be deducted for any other child who is financially dependent on them.  Any earnings that you, the student, may have from part-time work whilst studying are totally ignored; only certain taxable ‘unearned’ income you may have will be taken into account.

Students who qualify for State Benefits while studying

Students who are classed as being in ‘vulnerable groups’ and who are eligible to claim means-tested welfare benefits while they study (e.g. Income Support, Housing Benefit) will be eligible for a higher rate of Maintenance Loan.  Generally, the main groups of students who will be eligible for this are lone parents, students with certain disabilities, and students who the Department for Work and Pensions have deemed to be incapable of work.  So, a student who fulfils one of these criteria and has a household income of less than £25,000 will receive a maximum Maintenance Loan of either £9,916 (‘Elsewhere’ rate) or £8,640 (‘Parental Home’ rate).

If a student receives this maximum loan, £3680 will be disregarded when calculating benefits.

Adult Dependants Grant

If you have a spouse (or co-habiting partner if you are aged 25 or over) who is financially dependant on you, you may be eligible to receive a grant of up to £2,925.

Scottish students, funded by SAAS, can receive a Dependants’ Grant of up to £2,640.

Childcare Grant

If you are a lone parent, married to another student, or have a spouse/partner who is on a low income or unable to work, you could receive a childcare grant to meet up to 85% of your childcare costs.  The maximum grant for one child is £164.70 per week.  The maximum grant for 2 or more children is £282.36 per week.  Your childcare provider must be OFSTED registered or approved.  This grant is payable over the vacations (including summer) as well as during the academic year. 

If you are in receipt of assistance towards childcare costs through Working Tax Credit, you cannot also receive the childcare grant.  You can, however, opt to receive the grant rather than the WTC childcare element.  As the grant assists with 85% of the costs, and WTC assists with 70%, this may be advantageous.  Student Finance England will want to see that you have stopped claiming for childcare costs through WTC before awarding you the Childcare Grant.

Students from Scotland, who are funded by SAAS, will not be able to receive funding for childcare costs if studying outside of Scotland.

Parents Learning Allowance

This is a grant for students with children to help with study-related costs.  The maximum is £1,669.

Scottish students, funded by SAAS, can receive a Lone Parent's Grant of up to £1,305 instead.

How are Grants for Dependants calculated?

The amount of Adult Dependants GrantChildcare Grant and Parents Learning Allowance you may receive depends on the income of your spouse/partner and/or children.  Student Finance England will calculate your entitlement by looking at the amount of your dependants’ gross income and then deducting either £8,473 for students with a partner and one child, or £9,627 for two or more children. It then assesses your grants using the income that is left.

Lone parents with no assessable ‘unearned income’ and whose children have no independent sources of income should receive the maximum Childcare Grant (depending on actual costs) and Parents’ Learning Allowance.  For lone parents with children who do have sources of income, £9,627 of income is disregarded if they have one child or £10,792 if they have 2 or more children – i.e. the full grants will be paid if the child(ren)’s income is less than these figures.

Please contact Student Financial Guidance Team if you require further information on this calculation.

PGCE Students can receive Student Finance too

PGCE courses are classed as “postgraduate courses of Initial Teacher Training” and are the only post-graduate courses that attract the undergraduate grants and loans as mentioned above.

Also, the government’s Department for Education provides Training Bursaries for PGCE students studying to teach shortage subjects. Bursary amounts are determined by the qualification held by the applicant, and by the subject you are training to teach.

Further details of the Training Bursaries for 2018/19 are available on the following website: 


We also have a section of our own website giving more details here .

Social Work Bursary

The NHS Business Services Authority currently provides bursaries to those training to become social workers. The bursary is only available to students in years 2 and 3 of the course, and funded places are limited.

Further details are available via the University’s Faculty of Education and Society, as well as on the NHSBSA website: nhsbsa.nhs.uk/students

Additional Funding for Nursing Practice degree courses

The NHS Business Services Authority will provide additional funding for some nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students. This includes our degree courses in Adult Nursing Practice, Mental Health Nursing Professional Practice, and Learning Disability Nursing Professional Practice.

The additional funding is called the NHS Learning Support Fund, and consists of a non-repayable grant of £1,000 per year if you have child dependants; exceptional/discretionary support of up to £3,000 per year in cases of severe hardship; and support for excess travel and dual accommodation expenses incurred by attending practice placements.

Full details on the NHSBSA website – https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/learning-support-fund and on our specific Nursing funding webpage here.

* Note that only our degree courses in a Nursing discipline qualify for this extra funding, not our other healthcare courses such as Paramedic Science and Healthcare Sciences.

University of Sunderland Scholarships

The University of Sunderland will offer a number of scholarships in 2018/19.

Check out the ‘Scholarships’ link from the University’s website homepage for more details: www.sunderland.ac.uk

University Hardship Fund

This is a University fund to help students who face unexpected costs, higher than expected costs, or face serious financial problems for other reasons.  Applications can be made once you have enrolled for the academic year.  You will need to provide evidence of all of your income and costs for an assessment to be made.  Priority groups of students for assistance from the Fund include students with children, students who are incapable of work, and final year students suffering financial difficulties.

Applications are processed by the University's Student Support Funds Team. You can find more information on the Fund here.

Free School Meals

If you are in receipt of Child Tax Credit, but not entitled to Working Tax Credit, and have a household income below £16,190, you should qualify for Free School Meals for your children.

Your student finance is not included in the income calculation.

In most areas, you will need to contact the Local Education Authority of your child(ren)’s school and show evidence of your Tax Credits award - usually your latest full Tax Credits Award Notification letter. In some LEA areas, however, the schools handle their own Free School Meals applications themselves, so check with the school to find out to how to apply.

Council Tax Exemption / Reduction

Certain kinds of properties are exempt from Council Tax.  These include student halls of residence and ‘dwellings occupied only by students’ (which includes the house or flat of a student who lives alone). 

If you live with non-students then your property may not be exempt from Council Tax.  If you live with a non-student spouse or partner, and there are no other adults living in your home, you can receive a discount of 25% on the Council Tax bill when you become a student, irrespective of your spouse/partner’s income.  Your spouse/partner may also be able to claim Council Tax Reduction/Support to further reduce the bill.

You will need to obtain a Council Tax Certificate from the University after enrolment to prove your status as a full-time student. Simply print one from your university MySunderland account when you have started your course, or pick one up from the Gateway desk.

Employment and Student Earnings

Surveys indicate that around 50% of full-time students have part-time jobs during term-time.  Most students work during the summer vacations too, as Student Finance funding does not cover this period of the year. 

Importantly, any earnings you receive do not affect the amount of student support funding you receive. They may, however, affect any Tax Credits or means-tested benefits you may be eligible to claim. 

Contact the University’s Careers and Employability Service at the Gateway, for advice on finding part-time work - and contact us in Student Financial Guidance Team if you need to discuss how earnings might affect any benefits you are claiming (e.g. Housing Benefit).

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