All you need to know about the new student finance package
If you’re one of the thousands of people across Wales busy completing your UCAS form for university next year, here’s the lowdown on the financial support you can apply for.
All Welsh students starting a university course in September 2018 will receive support for living costs equivalent to the National Living Wage, made up of a mixture of grants and loans. This will mean you can focus on your studies and spend less time worrying about making ends meet. For students with relatively low household income, most of the available support for living costs will be a grant which does not have to be paid back.
Who is eligible?
All new full-time and part-time undergraduates who are starting a new course in September 2018 could be eligible. All students from Wales can apply, no matter where they plan to study in the UK.
How much could I get?
The minimum grant you could get is £1,000, which you do not have to pay back. If you’re studying full-time as an undergraduate, through a mixture of grants and loans, you could be eligible for up to £11,250 a year towards your living costs if you live away from home and study in London, and £9,000 per year in the rest of the UK.
Grants will be means-tested to support those who need them most. If you are from a lower income household, you will receive the highest grant. You can take out a maintenance loan to top up what you get. The maximum loan amount will depend on how much grant you receive.
You will also get up to £1,500 towards reducing your maintenance loan when you make the first loan repayment under the Welsh Government partial cancellation scheme.
What about tuition fees?
You will need to apply for a separate loan to cover tuition fees. Tuition fees are set by the university or college. In Wales, tuition fees have been capped at £9,000 per year but in other parts of the UK you could be charged up to £9,250 per year for a full-time undergraduate course.
Student Finance Wales provides a loan to cover your tuition fees, which you will have to repay once you start earning over £25,000. Loans to cover tuition fees are not means-tested.
How do I apply?
Applying for student finance is simple and is done directly through the Student Finance Wales website. The application system will go live in the spring.
Student Finance Wales is a service delivered by the Student Loans Company. It provides student finance on behalf of the Welsh Government to students from Wales entering higher education in the UK.
Remember you can apply for grants and loans to help with your living costs and a loan to cover your tuition fees upfront.
Why has the Welsh Government offered this support?
Research has shown that money can be a huge barrier when considering going to university. According to the Student Money Survey 2017, 84% of students worry about making ends meet. This figure is up from 80% in 2016.
The Welsh Government recognises student money worries are a growing problem so it has introduced a new student finance system so that money does not have to stand in the way.
By supporting living costs, it means that you don’t have to work long hours to earn money alongside your studies to cover living expenses, giving you more time to concentrate on your course.
Wales will be the first country in Europe to introduce comparable living cost support across full-time and part-time undergraduate study.
What if I started my course before September 2018?
The new student finance support package only applies to students who are starting a new university course in September 2018. If you started before September 2018, you will carry on receiving support within your existing package.
What about postgraduate and doctoral students?
You can apply for an increased postgraduate loan of £13,000, wherever you decide to study in the UK. The Welsh Government will also provide universities in Wales with additional funding for postgraduate students who choose to study in Wales, equating to around £4,000 per student.
Those studying a doctoral course will also be eligible for support in 2018/19. The amount of support is to be determined but is likely to be similar to the package that will be offered in England.
From September 2019, postgraduates will receive a similar package of support to undergraduates. The support will be made up of a mixture of grants and loans as a contribution to costs, rather than allocated specifically to fees and maintenance.
Why choose higher education?
Entering higher education will give you the opportunity to study your chosen subject and increase your knowledge, but there are other benefits too.
- Improve your earning potential
- Build essential life skills
- Gain independence
- Personal achievement