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UK students

UK Students starting full-time undergraduate courses in 2020/21

We have prepared the following information for UK students who are going to be starting undergraduate courses with us in the 2020/21 academic year. (That is, those who are starting a course with us at some point between September 2020 and August 2021).

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 2020 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 2020 is the earliest for September starters – in order to be sure that you receive your funding at the start of the academic year.

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) or an Allied Health Profession course (e.g. our BSc Physiotherapy or BSc Occupational Therapy) 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 or the above-mentioned AHPs 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 NHS 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 2020/21.  Students resident in England can apply to Student Finance England for a Tuition Fee Loan to pay the fees.  This loan is not subject to any age restriction and does not depend on household income. You will not start to repay student loans until you are earning over £27,295 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 2020/21, the maximum rates of Maintenance Loan are £9,203 for students not living with their parents whilst studying (known as the 'elsewhere' rate), or £7,747 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 called the 'non-income-assessed' part of the Loan:

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

Income                            Loan           

£25,000                            £9,203        

£30,000                            £8,544        

£35,000                            £7,884        

£40,000                            £7,225        

£45,000                            £6,565        

£50,000                            £5,905        

£55,000                            £5,246        

£60,000                            £4,586        

£62,249+                          £4,289  (minimum)


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

Income                            Loan           

£25,000                            £7,747        

£30,000                            £7,095         

£35,000                            £6,442        

£40,000                            £5,789        

£45,000                            £5,137        

£50,000                            £4,484        

£55,000                            £3,831        

£58,222+                          £3,410  (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 2018/19 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 £10,490 (‘Elsewhere’ rate) or £9,140 (‘Parental Home’ rate).

If a student receives this maximum loan, £3893 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 £3,094.

Scottish students, funded by SAAS, can receive a Dependants’ Allowance of up to £3,640 for an adult or their first child (plus a further £557 for every other 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 from SFE to meet up to 85% of your childcare costs.  The maximum grant for one child is £174.22 per week.  The maximum grant for 2 or more children is £298.69 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 SFE 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. 

Parents Learning Allowance

This is a grant for students with children to help with study-related costs.  The maximum is £1,766.

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

How are Grants for Dependants calculated?

The Adult Dependants GrantChildcare Grant and Parents Learning Allowance are specialist grants for lower-income households. The amount you may receive depends on the income of your spouse/partner and/or children - as they need to be financially dependant on you, the student, in order to receive the grants. 

Please  if you require further information on this calculation.

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

University of Sunderland Scholarships

The University of Sunderland will offer a number of scholarships in 2020/21.

Check out the University’s website for more details 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 £14,000 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Your student finance loan is NOT included in the income calculation for free school meals, as it is not 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.

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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