How will I pay for it all?
If money worries are the only thing holding you back from applying, then we want to offer you some reassurance.
The student finance system (Student Awards Agency Scotland) is there to take away as much of the worry about paying for your course and living costs as possible. You won’t have to pay any loans back until you are earning a certain amount and the amount you’ll have to pay back each month will be much, much lower than if you’d borrowed it from a bank.
Think of the money you spend now as an investment for later. And you’ll leave education with the potential to earn a lot more money than before.
What’s more, as a care leaver you might be entitled to extra money, some of which doesn't need to be paid back at all.
The exact amount of funding that you’ll get will depend on a number of things, like where you live, the course you take and whether you’re planning to study full or part time.Did you know? If you study at a Scottish university you will not have to pay back any tuition fees!
What funding is available?
If you are studying a higher education course the main source of your funding for your tuition and living costs will come from The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).
If you are Scottish and study at a Scottish public university the Student Awards Agency for Scotland will pay tuition fees directly to your university and you will not need to pay back these fees. If you choose to study in England, Wales of Northern Ireland you will be required to pay back these fees over time, but not until you are earning at least £17,775 per year.
Through SAAS you can will be eligible to apply for a Care Experienced Students Bursary to help pay for your accommodation, day-to-day living costs, as well as any books or equipment you might need for your studies. The amount available in 2017-2018 is £7,625.
The Care Experienced Accommodation Grant can help you with your accommodation costs during the summer holiday. You can apply for up to £105 per week during the summer holidays.
You can find out about the support that SAAS offers to care leavers in their guide, or more information about student funding from SAAS in their 2017-18 guide.
If you are a full time student and studying a further education course, you will not have to pay fees as long as you meet certain residency conditions. In addition you will be eligible to apply for a weekly bursary of £97.33 which the college pays directly to your bank account. Information about further education bursaries can be found here: Get in touch with the named contact of your college to find out more.
Other funding support
There may also be charities and other organisations that could help, either with one-off payments, or more regular support. You can use Turn2us, to do a grants search for funding that you might be eligible for.
Buttle UK offer grants to young people, you can find out more info here.
The Care Leavers Foundation also offer small grants to care leavers.
If you're thinking of postgraduate study, SAAS offers tuition fee loans and living cost loans, but only for some courses. To find out about the support they offer and eligibility criteria, look on the SAAS website.There’s lots of funding to help you, from loans to bursaries.
How do the student loans people decide how much to give me?
In Scotland, SAAS checks that you’re studying an eligible course, meet their residence criteria and the amount you get for a tuition fee loan will depend on the amount that your course costs. It will also depend if you’re studying a full-time or part-time course. The amount of bursary that you get is based on your household income. If you’re leaving care you are likely to be able to get the maximum amount.
How do I apply for a tuition fee loan?
If you are studying a higher education course in Scotland tuition fees are paid directly to the institution and are not repaid. Your application is valid for one academic year only, so you must make sure you apply every year.
For students who don’t want to study in Scotland, The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) provide tuition fee loans. You can also apply to SAAS for a bursary and loan to pay for living costs.
If you are a full time student and studying an further education course you will not have to pay fees as long as you meet certain residency conditions. Get in touch with the named contact of your college to find out more.No matter where you live in Scotland, your local authority and the university or college you apply to might be able to offer further help - so get in touch.
Can I get study money from my local authority?
The law says that local authorities may offer financial support to students to help them meet any expenses that are connected with their education and for living near where they are studying. This applies to any young person eligible for ‘aftercare’ services, aged 16 to 25.
Speak to your local authority for more details about the financial support available.
Can I study in a different UK country to the one I live in?
You can apply to SAAS for a tuition fee loan. The amount you will have to pay will depend on the college or university you are studying at – so contact them to find out how much it will be. Have a look at the pages of information on fees, grants and loans in other parts of the UK here:
The amount of loan you care entitled to is not dependent on household income, and you don’t have to pay anything upfront. You are also entitled to the same maintenance loans and bursaries as you would have received in Scotland.
Do the universities and colleges have any additional funds I can apply to?
Absolutely. In fact, many universities and colleges have specific funds, bursaries and scholarships that are only available to care leavers.
Others have ‘hardship funds’ for students who are in financial difficulty or who would struggle to enter higher education and further education without it. For example there are funds called Discretionary Funds that are administered by the university.
Anyone who meets their criteria can apply for these but some institutions may give priority to care leavers. It’s up to the university or college to decide who they’ll give the money to - and how much they’ll get.
Bottom line - give the university or college a call to find out what they could offer you. Check their entry on this website to see who is the best person to call – it might be the named contact or they might give another number for queries about funding.
Universities and colleges are now statutory corporate parents in Scotland under Part 9 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) 2014 Act, and this means that there are additional duties placed on them to improve access and support to care leavers - so get in touch with the named contact to find out how they are doing that!Did you know? You don’t need to pay bursaries, grants or scholarships back if you finish your course!
What happens to my funding if I drop out of my course early?
You’ll still need to pay back any student loans you have (like your tuition fee loan and maintenance loan) and possibly any other bursaries or grants that you’ve received. That’s why it’s so important that you choose the right course at the right university or college for you.
If you feel like you might need to leave or take a break, talk about this with the named contact for care leavers at your college and also your personal adviser before making a final decision.
Can I get support if I’m an asylum seeker or have discretionary leave to remain?
Student Support is the name given to financial support that is given to eligible students in the UK. It’s not considered to be a ‘public fund’ (as defined in paragraph 6 of the Immigration Rules). This means that if your immigration permission says that you have ‘no recourse to public funds’ and you apply for, and receive Student Support, you wouldn't be in breach of that condition.
The amount of support you can get will depend on your status (and country you’re living in) at the time you apply. For example, if you have refugee status, you may be eligible for more support than people who have discretionary leave to remain.
If you live in Scotland and have been granted refugee status you should be eligible for full student support. There are some conditions, which you can check out here.
If you’re an unaccompanied asylum seeking child, you will be eligible for full student support, as long as you fulfil the eligibility criteria. You can find out what the eligibility criteria are here.
What should I do if I don’t get the support that I’m entitled to?
If you’re not getting support from the university or college that you think you should be, have a chat to the named contact and ask them about it. You might find it helpful to talk to your personal tutor for some advice – if it’s impacting on your studies, they’ll want to help you.
You can always have a chat to your student union too – they’re there to look out for you as a student. Some unions have officers that only represent care leavers, but even if your union doesn’t, they should still be looking out for you!
If you’re not getting the support that you think you should be getting from your local authority, getting an advocate might be the way forward. Advocates are there to help you get your voice heard.
If you’re in care or a care leaver and need help and advice about anything to do with university or college from money to accommodation, you can get in touch with Become's Care Advice Line in confidence – online or over the phone. You can call us on 0800 023 2033 between 10:30am and 3pm, Monday to Friday, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who Cares? Scotland provide advocacy. You can give them a call on 0141 226 4441If you’re not getting the support that you think you should be getting from your local authority, getting an advocate might be the way forward. Advocates are there to help you get your voice heard.
How do I get support?
Don’t let money worries hold you back from achieving your goals.