How do I get support?

Don’t let money worries hold you back from achieving your goals. 

  • 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 is there to take away as much of the worry about paying for your course as possible. You won’t have to pay 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 higher 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? You don’t need to start paying any of your loans back until you have finished your course and are earning a salary.
  • What funding is available?

    If you’re from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, there’s lots of funding to help you, from loans to bursaries. If you are from JerseyGuernsey or the Isle of Man, different funding rules and opportunities apply. Check out the websites of the different islands to find out more.

    English students

    The main source of your funding for your tuition and living costs will come from Student Finance EnglandFrom 2017, students applying to study a health course will need to apply for a student loan in the same way that students on non-health courses do. 

    Student Finance England pay tuition fees directly to your university and, if you’re a full time student you can apply for a maintenance loan for you to use on things like food, bills and rent. You won’t need to start paying any loans back until you are earning at least £21,000 a year.

    You may be able to apply for bursaries or extra help if you’re studying medicine (find out more here), social work (find out more here) or teacher training (but only if you are doing a postgraduate qualification - find out more here).

    You can find out more about funding and finances on this finance factsheet.

    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.

    The Unite Foundation offers scholarships in partnership with 10 universities which include free university accommodation for the duration of your degree plus an annual allowance of £3,000, rising to £4,000 in London. Find out more, including which universities offer the scholarship, on their website

    If you're thinking of studying a postgraduate course and you normally live in England, you may be able to get a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 to help with course fees and living costs. It has to be repaid, and you'll earn interest on it from the day that you get the loan. You can find out more here.

    Northern Irish students

    The main source of your funding for your tuition and living costs will come from Student Finance ni.

    Student Finance ni pay tuition fees directly to your university, and you can apply for a maintenance loan and grant to help pay for your accommodation, day-to-day living costs, as well as any books or equipment you might need for your studies. You won’t need to start paying any loans back until you are earning at least £17,495 year.

    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 about postgraduate study, the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland has said that from 2017, loans of up to £5,500 will be available for Northern Irish students on taught postgraduate programmes. Findamasters.com has created this handy guide.

    Scottish students

    The main source of your funding for your tuition and living costs will come from The Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

    The Student Awards Agency for Scotland pay tuition fees directly to your university, and you can apply for a bursary and loan to help pay for your accommodation, day-to-day living costs, as well as any books or equipment you might need for your studies. You won’t need to start paying any loans back until you are earning at least £17,495 year.

    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 2016-17 guide.

    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

    Welsh students

    The main source of your funding for your tuition and living costs will come from Student Finance Wales. You don’t have to pay any fees upfront and you will be able to take out a tuition fee loan to cover the first £3,900 of your fees, and if your fees are higher, you can apply for the tuition fee grant for up to £5,100 which will be paid directly to your university or college. You don’t have to repay the tuition fee grant and you won’t need to start paying any loans back until you are earning at least £21,000 year.

    You can apply for a maintenance loan to help pay for your accommodation, day-to-day living costs, as well as any books or equipment you might need for your studies. You can also apply for the Welsh Government Learning Grant, which is up to a maximum of £5,161. If you are eligible for this non-repayable grant, it may reduce the amount you will be able to have as a loan. You can find out more about what is available, based on the 2016/17 finance offer here.

    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.

    The Welsh government does not operate a national postgraduate loans or scholarship scheme for all postgraduate courses. You can get support for postgraduate initial teacher training from Student Finance Wales (find out more here), and the Care Council for Wales offers support for social work postgrad study. Individual unis may offer support though - so get in touch with them before you apply.  

     

    There’s lots of funding to help you, from loans to bursaries.
  • How do the student loans people decide how much to give me?

    English students

    In England, to be eligible for a tuition fee loan, you need to meet certain eligibility criteria as set out by the government (for example that you’re studying an eligible course, meet their residency criteria and have not previously studied in higher education). Tuition fee loans are not means-tested, which means that the amount you can borrow is not affected by household income.

    Maintenance loans will be assessed on your household income, but if you’re leaving care you are likely to be able to get the maximum amount. Your eligibility will also depend on whether you’re studying a full-time or part-time course.

    Northern Irish students

    Tuition fee loans aren't based on household income, and the amount you need to borrow will depend on where you’re studying. The maintenance loan and grant are based on your household income. If you’re leaving care, you are likely to be able to get the maximum amount.

    Scottish students

    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.

    Welsh students

    Tuition fee loans (and fee grants) are not based on household income, but maintenance loans and the Welsh Government Learning Grant are based on your household income. If you’re leaving care - and therefore classed as independent - you are likely to be able to get the maximum amount. It will also depend if you’re studying a full-time or part-time course.

  • How do I apply for a tuition fee loan?

    English students

    Tuition fee loans, and maintenance loans are provided by Student Finance England. You can apply online, or you can call them on 0300 100 0607 - you can check how much calling might cost here. You need to reapply every year as a continuing student. 

    Northern Irish students

    Tuition fee loans and maintenance loans and grants are available from Student Finance niYou need to reapply every year as a continuing student. 

    You can contact Student Finance ni on 0300 100 0077, or check out their website.

    Scottish students

    In Scotland, tuition fees for students living and studying in Scotland 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.

    You can contact SAAS on 0300 555 0505 (SAAS explain how much it’ll cost here), check out their website or visit their facebook page for more information.

    Welsh students

    Tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and Welsh Government Learning Grants are provided by Student Finance WalesYou need to reapply every year as a continuing student. 

    You can apply online or you can contact Student Finance Wales on 0300 200 4050.

    No matter where you live in the UK, 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?

    In many cases - yes. But the exact amount of support available will depend on things like the length of time you've been in care, your previous education and the financial policy of the local authority that looks after you. 

    English students

    If you’re starting higher education for the first time before your 25th birthday, you should be entitled to a one-off £2,000 Higher Education Bursary from your local authority. Ask your local authority to explain how it will be paid to you.

    Your local authority should also be supporting you financially to pursue education, if your welfare and educational needs require it. Your local authority should have a financial policy that sets out the financial and practical support that they will give to care leavers who are participating in further or higher education. Ask to see it, so that it’s clear what support that they will give and ask for it to be clearly written into your pathway plan.

    Northern Irish students

    The Trust that is responsible for you must assist with the costs of education up until the end of the agreed programme of study. The Trust should undertake a financial analysis exercise and meet any shortfall in funding requirements. It takes into account the support you can get from a tuition fee loan and a maintenance grant (and any bursary you might get from the university) and will make up the shortfall.

    Your Trust should have a financial policy that sets out the financial and practical support that they will give to care leavers who are participating in further or higher education. Ask to see it, so that it’s clear what support that they will give and ask for it to be clearly written into your pathway plan.

    Scottish students

    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.

    Welsh students

    If you’re starting Higher Education for the first time before your 25th birthday, you should be entitled to a one-off £2,000 Higher Education Bursary from your local authority. Ask your local authority to explain how it will be paid to you.

    Local authorities usually provide extra financial support to help you to carry on in higher education. Ask to see your local authority’s financial policy about supporting care leavers, so that it’s clear what support that they will give and ask for it to be clearly written into your pathway plan.

     

     

  • Can I study in a different UK country to the one I live in?

    Yes you can. You can still get a student loan for things like tuition fees from the loan provider in your home country.

    Additional support to help with living costs and study expenses may be available in the country where you’re planning to study. Many of these funds are awarded by the university or college so it’s worth contacting them to find out if you can apply for them.

    If you live in England you can apply for a tuition fee loan to pay for the fees in another part of the UK.

    Students who live in Northern Ireland can ask for a tuition fee loan of up to £9,000 a year, even though tuition fees in Northern Ireland are no more than £3,805 a year. Student Finance ni also offers a maintenance grant of a slightly higher amount for students studying in London because the costs of living and studying in London are likely to be higher than in other parts of the UK. 

    Students who live in Scotland 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. If you meet the eligibility conditions, you can apply to take out a loan to pay for all or some of your fees. The amount you can get is not dependent on household income, and you don’t have to pay anything upfront. 

    Students who live in Wales and who are eligible to receive the fee grant can access it whether they choose to study in Wales or elsewhere in the UK – so should be able to cover tuition fees up to £9,000 a year. Student Finance Wales also offers a maintenance grant of a slightly higher amount for students studying in London because the costs of living and studying in London are likely to be higher than in other parts of the UK. 

  • 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 without it. For example, in Scotland, there are funds called Discretionary Funds and in Northern Ireland, Support Funds, that are administered by the university.

    Anyone who meets their criteria can apply for these but some universities 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.

    If you live in Scotland, FE & HE establishments are now statutory corporate parents under Part 9 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) 2014 Act, and this means that there 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 for you.

     

  • 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.

    I'm living in England - what help can I get?

    Students with refugee status can apply for student loans and are eligible for home fees. You are also eligible if you have humanitarian protection, but you must have been living in England for three years before the first day of the course. You can find out more information from the UK Council for International Student Affairs' website. Call their advice line for more information on 0207 788 9214. It’s not open all the time, so check out their advice line page for further details.

    You may also be eligible for student finance if you’re not a UK national and are either:

    • under 18 and have lived in the UK for at least seven years
    • 18 or over and have lived in the UK for at least 20 years (or at least half of your life).

    If you don’t have refugee or humanitarian protection status, (or you haven't been living in the UK for long enough), it’s very important that you contact the university or college of your choice to find out what they are able to offer you. Talk to your local authority too, to see what support they might be able to offer you. As long as you are a care leaver, they may have duties to support your education – so it’s worth having a chat to find out what they can do.

    Some may charge you home fees, and in some cases waive the fees, rather than the much more expensive fees they charge to students who come from abroad to study in the UK. However, because asylum seeking students, and those with unaccompanied asylum seeking child leave to remain (this used to be known as discretionary leave to remain)are classed as international students, you won’t be able to access student finance (tuition fee loans and maintenance loans).

    Others may offer additional funding that only asylum seekers can apply for, such the Article 26 project, run by the Helena Kennedy Foundation. Not all universities offer support through the project, and the amount of support available depends on the university you apply to, so it’s best to get in touch with them directly to find out more.

    I'm living in Northern Ireland - what help can I get?

    If you 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.

    I'm living in Scotland - what help can I get?

    If you 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.

    I'm living in Wales - what help can I get?

    Students with refugee status can apply for student loans and are eligible for home fees. You are also eligible if you have humanitarian protection, but you must have been living in Wales for three years before the first day of the course. You can find out more information from the UK Council for International Student Affairs' website. Call their advice line for more information on 0207 788 9214. It’s not open all the time, so check out their advice line page for further details.

    If you don’t have refugee or humanitarian protection status, it’s very important that you contact the university or college of your choice to find out what they are able to offer you. Talk to your local authority too, to see what support they might be able to offer you. As long as you are a care leaver, they may have duties to support your education – so it’s worth having a chat to find out what they can do.

    Some may charge you home fees, and in some cases waive the fees, rather than the much more expensive fees they charge to students who come from abroad to study in the UK. However, because asylum seeking students, and those with unaccompanied asylum seeking child leave to remain (this used to be known as discretionary leave to remain) are classed as international students, you won’t be able to access student finance (tuition fee loans and maintenance loans).

  • 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 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 higher education 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 Rufus on 0800 023 2033 between 10:30am and 3pm, Monday to Friday, or email advice@becomecharity.org.uk.

    If you live in England, different people provide advocacy for different local authorities. If you ask, your local authority should tell you who provides advocacy in your area. Coram Voice and NYAS may be able to help you find out if you have problems. You can call Coram Voice on 0808 800 5792 or NYAS on 0808 808 1001.

    If you live in Northern Ireland, VOYPIC (Voices of Young People in Care) offer advocacy – give them a call on 028 9024 4888.

    If you live in Wales, get in touch with MEIC. They support all children and young people in Wales, up to the age of 25. You can give them a call on 0808 802 3456, text them on 84001 (both are free!) or chat to them online.   

    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.