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UK students

UK Students starting full-time PGCE in 2019/20

We have prepared the following information for UK students who are going to be starting full-time PGCE (with Qualified Teacher Status) courses with us in the 2019/20 academic year. *

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

* Please note that this guide deals mainly with funding for full-time students on:

  • PGCE courses leading to QTS;
  • Schools Direct (unsalaried) courses leading to QTS; and
  • PGCE PCET courses leading to QTLS.

Teacher Training courses studied by Distance Learning or by the salaried route of the Schools Direct programme do not attract funding through the Student Finance system.

Applying for Student Finance

PGCE courses are the only postgraduate courses funded by the full ‘Student Finance’ system which provides assistance with paying tuition fees, a Maintenance Loan for living costs and certain other grants - outlined below - as well as extra support for Disabled Students. Scottish students are funded through SAAS.

New PGCE students in 2019 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 2019 is the earliest – in order to be sure that you receive your funding at the start of the academic year in September 2019. We often advise PGCE students to apply on paper, as each year we tend to see teething problems with the online application system for PGCE funding.

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 exceptional or indefinite leave, humanitarian leave, or discretionary leave to stay in the UK 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 QTS Study

Students who have already acquired Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) are already qualified to teach in UK schools. The Government will not fund students through a second QTS course, and therefore such students will not be eligible for any of the Student Finance funding outlined below.

Tuition Fees

The tuition fees for PGCE courses in 2019/20 will be £9,250 for the year. For UK students resident in England, a Tuition Fees 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 £25,725 per year.


Maintenance Loan

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. 

For 2019/20, the maximum rates of Maintenance Loan are £8,944 for students not living with their parents whilst studying (the ‘elsewhere’ rate), or £7,529 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                            £8,944         

£30,000                            £8,303         

£35,000                            £7,661         

£40,000                            £7,019         

£45,000                            £6,377         

£50,000                            £5,735         

£55,000                            £5,093         

£60,000                            £4,452         

£62,212+                          £4,168  (minimum)


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

Income                            Loan           

£25,000                            £7,529         

£30,000                            £6,895         

£35,000                            £6,260         

£40,000                            £5,626         

£45,000                            £4,991         

£50,000                            £4,357         

£55,000                            £3,722         

£58,215+                          £3,314  (minimum)

Scottish students should visit www.saas.gov.uk for details of their Bursary scheme, as this uses different income scales. 

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 2017/18 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 deducted, 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 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 £10,194 (‘Elsewhere’ rate) or £8,882 (‘Parental Home’ rate).

If a student receives this maximum loan, £3783 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 dependent on you, you may be eligible to receive a grant of up to £3,007.

Scottish students, funded by SAAS, can receive a Dependants’ Allowance of up to £3,640 for an adult or their first child.

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 £169.31 per week.  The maximum grant for 2 or more children is £290.27 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 or Universal Credit, you cannot also receive the childcare grant.  You can, however, opt to receive the grant rather than the WTC/UC childcare element.  (WTC assists with 70% of costs, but the Childcare grant assists with 85% of the costs).  Student Finance England will want to see that you have stopped claiming for childcare costs through WTC/UC 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 £1,716.

Scottish students, funded by SAAS, can receive a Lone Parent's Grant of up to £2,303 in addition to the Dependants’ Allowance

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. They are specialist grants for lower-income households.

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

PGCE Training Bursary (Secondary and Primary)

Additionally to the Student Finance loans/grants system, the government’s Department for Education provides Training Bursaries for PGCE students studying to teach shortage subjects, either University-based or Schools Direct (unsalaried). Bursary amounts are affected by the subject you are training to teach. They are split into monthly payment instalments over the PGCE year, but the annual figures are shown below (taken from the gov.uk website) for 2019/20.

Full details on the government site: https://getintoteaching.education.gov.uk/bursaries-and-funding

It is important to note that the first payment of Training Bursary will not be made until the end of October 2019, so you will need to make sure that you can provide for yourself in the first couple of months of the course.


Trainee with 1st, 2:1, 2:2, PhD or Master's

Early-career payments



Bursary £20,000 or



Scholarship £22,000




Full-time PCET courses - Teaching in Further Education

PCET courses that result in QTLS are classed as Initial Teacher Training, so attract the Student Finance funding as outlined above. They also often attract a PCET Bursary, so it is worth asking the Faculty or Programme Leader of the course you are considering to see if their course is funded in this way.

First payments of bursary in a year are often not made until October, so you will need to financially prepare for that delay when you start your course.

University of Sunderland Scholarships

In 2019/20, the University of Sunderland will offer a package of its own Scholarship Programmes to new UK and EU students, some of which may be open to PGCE students.

Details of 2019/20 scholarships are on the University’s website here


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

As a student, you can receive free school meals for your children if you receive either:

  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190); or
  • Universal Credit - your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Your student finance and PGCE Training Bursary are not included in the income calculation, as they are not classed as taxable income.

You will need to contact the Local Education Authority of your child(ren)’s school and show evidence of your Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit award. 

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

Due to the intensity of a PGCE course, students tend not to be able to work alongside their studies. Having said that, any earnings you receive while studying a full-time course do not affect the amount of student finance funding you receive. They may, however, affect any Tax Credits or means-tested benefits you may be eligible to claim.

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