Student finance

Getting a degree is a great investment – graduates earn more than those without degrees and are more likely to be promoted and less likely to be unemployed. Even though there are costs involved, there are also sources of funding available to help those in higher education.

Aside from tuition fees, students will need to budget for accommodation, bills and food if they are moving away from home. Transport is usually another significant cost for students, and many prefer to pay upfront for a termly or yearly bus pass rather than drive to university. Students usually also have to pay for photocopying and printing, stationary and books. And some courses incur other costs such as materials fees, specialist equipment, field trips or enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks.

Most students access student finance to support them through university. This page describes the main sources of funding available and how to access it. Many students supplement this income with part-time jobs, which UCW recommends be limited to a maximum of 15 hours per week during term-time. We also strongly advise against credit cards and payday loans due to their astronomical interest rates.

The savvy student knows that there are loads of other ways to save money, such as student bank accounts and getting discounts with NUS Extra cards. Full-time students who only live with other students will also be exempt from paying Council Tax. Another great tip is to avoid restaurants and nightclubs and instead share meals and drinks at home with friends.

Universities also offer a host of scholarships and bursaries to eligible students, and short-term and emergency funding to those in need.

So even if student finance seems daunting, it really is just a case of being informed and doing some upfront planning to make sure the correct finances are in place.

Tuition Fee Loans

Tuition fees are more competitive at UCW than at most traditional universities and, regardless of where a student goes to university, they do not need to be paid in advance or during the course of studies. Students can take out a loan to cover the cost of tuition fees, which is paid directly to their university on their behalf.

Maintenance Loans

Students will also need money for accommodation, food, transport, additional course fees and other living expenses. The Student Loans Company provides Maintenance Loans to help pay for these expenses. For 2017/18, students not living with their parents can borrow up to £8,430 for the year; those living at home can borrow up to £7,097; and students in receipt of government benefits can borrow up to £9,609. This funding is paid directly to students in three instalments at the start of each term.

How much will be loaned?

Tuition Fee Loans are non-means tested, whereas the size of a Maintenance Loan is partially determined by the finances of either the student, their partner, or their parents, depending on their circumstances. The Student Loans Company calculate the size of Maintenance Loans by looking into the income of a student’s parents (including a parent’s spouse/partner if the student lives with them). If a student is married or aged over 25 and living with their partner, then the income of the student’s spouse/partner will be assessed to determine the size of the Maintenance Loan.

Students who are classed as having ‘Independent Status’ will not receive a Maintenance Loan based on their parents’ or partner’s income. This applies to students who meet any of the following criteria:

• Aged over 25 at the start of the academic year
• Have been married prior to the start of the academic year
• Supported themselves for at least three years
• Have no living parents
• Are responsible for a child/children
• Are estranged from their parents

Repaying the loans

Upon finishing the course and graduating, the Tuition Fee Loan and Maintenance Loan are bundled together and start to accrue interest. Repayment takes the form of 9% of income above £21,000. This repayment is taken even if a student did not finish their degree.

Annual salary before tax Approximate monthly repayment
£21,000 £0
£24,000 £22
£27,000 £45
£30,000 £67
£33,000 £90
£36,000 £112
£40,000 £142
  1. Register your details at www.gov.uk/studentfinance.
  2. Answer the security questions, create a password and write down the Customer Reference Number somewhere safe as it will be needed every time you log in.
  3. Go step-by-step through the application process and remember to save as you go. You can always log in and change the information you have entered.
  4. Use the links to UCAS to drag information into your Student Finance application.
  5. When asked about your university choices, use the details of your first choice, especially if it is for a London university as you will be entitled to a bigger loan. If you change your mind, you will still be able to change this at a later date.
  6. The system can verify your identity using your passport number. If you don’t have a passport you will need to post your birth certificate and a complete proof of identity form to Student Finance England.
  7. Once you have completed the application and checked all the sections, you can submit it. Check its progress using your password and Customer Reference Number.
  8. If you do not qualify for ‘Independent Status’, you will need to provide your parents’ or guardians’ financial details for the previous tax year. This can be done either online or via a paper application. Proof of income may be required.
  9. If you are married, your partner’s income will need to be assessed or, if you have ‘Independent Status’, you will be assessed based on your own income.
  10. We recommend that you give ‘consent to share’ so that your university can assess you for additional financial support.
  11. Complete the Student Finance England PN1 form (which can be found on its website) if you prefer not to apply online.

UCW finance timeline

Spring 2017 Summer 2017 September 2017
Apply for student finance online at www.gov.uk/studentfinance Receive the Student Finance Entitlement letter telling you how much money you are going to receive. Sign and return the Student Finance Declaration form. Register your student finance with us during enrolment. You will not receive any payments until you do so.

There are other sources of funding for parents, carers, those with learning difficulties or disabilities, and those who are care leavers.

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)

Students with a disability, mental health condition or specific learning difficulty (SpLD) may be entitled to DSA. This support is calculated based upon needs, not income. DSA does not have to be repaid and can be used to pay for any required additional support, equipment or resources, for example: specialist equipment or computer software; a one-to-one study skills tutor; non-medical helpers; or any extra travel fees. UCW students should contact the Learning Support Team on support@ucw.ac.uk for more information and help with the application process.

Other funding for parents and carers

Students with children or other dependents may be entitled to other funding:
• Parents’ Learning Allowance: up to £1,617 a year, dependent on household income.
• Childcare Grant: up to 159.59 a week for one child in approved childcare, or up to £273.60 a week for two children.
• Adult Dependents’ Grant: students with an adult who financially depends on them (other than their adult children) may be entitled to a grant worth up to £2,834.

Carer and care leaver support

UCW may be able to provide additional financial support to care leavers, young carers and people who are estranged from their parents. Please contact Abby on either abby.dobson@ucw.ac.uk or 01934 441 323 for more information.

Short-term Loans

UCW also offers Short-term Loans of up to £250 to help students who require emergency financial assistance. Apply for these by contacting UCW’s Student Finance Officer on finance@ucw.ac.uk or 01934 422 757.

UCW Bursary

UCW offers 20 bursaries of £2,000 each to students with a declared household income below £25,000 per annum. Because of the limited number, priority will be given to those experiencing multiple factors of financial hardship, such as those from the lowest income households who are also from a disadvantaged background, such as: single parents; care leavers or young carers; being estranged and living in an accredited Foyer; having a disability; or coming from an area with a low participation in higher education. This bursary is spread equally across the years of study, and can be paid in cash instalments in November and February, used as a fee waiver, or be in-kind support for accommodation, for example. Please note that to be eligible for this bursary, UCW students must be enrolled on a full-time and directly-funded Bath Spa University or UWE Bristol course with tuition fees of £7,950 per year. Find out the status of your course here. Applicants must have their student finance application approved by the middle of October to be able to be assessed for a bursary, and BA/BSc top-up bursaries will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

Principal’s Scholarship

This one-off scholarship of £500 is awarded every year to a first-year UCW student who has achieved outstanding academic success and progressed to the second year of their course. Students are nominated by teaching staff and receive the award at the Weston College Group’s Celebration of Success event. All full-time UCW students are eligible for this scholarship.

Excellence Scholarship

Students who achieve A Levels at ABB or a BTEC Extended Diploma at DDM are eligible to receive £350 in three instalments. The funds are paid in the November and February of the first year of study and the November of the second year. All full-time UCW students are eligible to apply for this scholarship.

Progression Scholarship

Students who completed a Level 3 course at Weston College within the five years preceding the commencement of their UCW course are eligible to receive £300. The funds are paid in three instalments in the November and February of the first year of study and the November of the second year. All full-time UCW students who meet the above criteria are eligible to apply for this scholarship.

Federation of Schools Scholarship

One UCW student who has progressed from a local College or Sixth Form will be awarded £300. The funds are paid in three instalments in the November and February of the first year of study and the November of the second year. All full-time UCW students who meet the above criteria are eligible to apply for this scholarship.

International Work Placement Scholarship

UCW students on any course who undertake overseas work placements at additional costs are eligible to apply for up to £500.

Part-time Scholarship

Non-sponsored and part-time UCW students are eligible for a scholarship of £1,500 spread across three years of study. The funds can either be paid in instalments in the November and February of each year of study, or used as a fee waiver.

Bath Spa University bursaries

Bath Spa University offers 365 bursaries worth up to £3,500 each to eligible first-year students who are new to higher education and have a declared household income below £25,000 per annum. Priority is given to students who are in receipt of the special support element of the student loan; are care leavers or Foyer students; or who come from an area with a low participation in higher education. Full-time students are automatically assessed for this award based on information from Student Finance England.

Please note that these figures apply to 2016/17. For the most up-to-date information, email bursaries@bathspa.ac.uk or visit www.bathspa.ac.uk. Please also note that to be eligible for this bursary, UCW students must be enrolled on an indirectly-funded Bath Spa University course. Find out the status of your course here.

UWE Bristol bursaries

All UWE Bristol full-time students will be automatically considered for bursaries subject to eligibility criteria based on household income and living in England. Eighty new first-year students will receive an Enhanced Bursary of £3,000 and 1,300 students will receive a £500 bursary. Part-time students are only eligible for the £500 bursary. Students who receive the Enhanced Bursary will be then be eligible for a Progression Bursary of £1,000 per year in subsequent years of study. Students who receive £500 in their first year will be eligible for Progression Bursaries of £500 in their subsequent years of study.

Please note that these figures apply to 2016/17. For the most up-to-date information, visit www.uwe.ac.uk. Please also note that to be eligible for this bursary, UCW students must be enrolled on an indirectly-funded UWE Bristol course. Find out the status of your course here.

If you have had to suspend, withdraw from or repeat a year of study due to genuine personal reasons, you may be able to apply for Student Finance’s Compelling Personal Reasons (CPR). Student Finance can offer additional years of funding if they deem your circumstances to have affected your ability to study. You will still be financially liable for any original years of study.

Student Finance generally offers three years of funding for a full time undergraduate degree plus a gift year, which can be used for circumstances like repeating a year of study (if your course is longer than three years, Student Finance will offer funding for the duration of the course plus a gift year).

If you do not have enough funding to complete your studies, and have genuine personal reasons, you may be able to apply for CPR to access additional years of funding. For part time courses, Student Finance offer up to twelve years of funding, with no gift year.

What do Student Finance class as a CPR?

It will depend on the individual student’s circumstances and Student Finance’s discretion. If your ability to study has been affected by personal circumstances such as ill health or bereavement and you have had to suspend, withdraw or repeat studies, you may be entitled to CPR.

How do I apply for CPR?

To apply for CPR, you must write a covering letter to Student Finance, stating your reasons for applying for CPR, how this has affected your ability to study, and provide eligible evidence to support your application (e.g. a letter from a GP, social services or an upstanding person in the community, medical records or death certificate).

For support and information on how to apply for CPR, please contact UCW’s Student Finance Officer April at finance@ucw.ac.uk.

Repeating part of your studies can affect your entitlement to Student Finance funding, so it’s important to find out the information beforehand to consider your options and access support.

How many years of funding can I get from Student Finance if I repeat a year?

Student Finance generally offer three years of funding for a full-time undergraduate degree plus a gift year, which can be used for circumstances like repeating a year of study (if your course is longer than three years, Student Finance will offer funding for the duration of the course plus a gift year).

For part time-courses, Student Finance offer up to twelve years of funding, with no gift year.

What if I have previously repeated a year of study during my degree?

Repeating a year of study again will affect how many years of funding you can get with Student Finance. Every year of repeat study will class as a year of funding, so this will reduce how many years of funding you will have.

What if I have previously studied on another higher education course?

If you have previously studied on another higher education course, but did not complete the qualification, this will be deducted from your Student Finance entitlement. For example, if you studied at an university for a short time, withdrew and began a new course a year later, it would be calculated as four years of funding (three years + one gift year – one year of previous study = three years of funding left).

What if I have personal or medical reasons that affected my ability to pass the year of study?

If you have genuine personal reasons (for example a family circumstance or health issue) that affected your ability to pass the year, and therefore you need to retake, you can apply for Compelling Personal Reasons (CPR) with Student Finance. Please see the next dropdown for more information.

What if I don’t have enough years of funding from Student Finance to complete my studies?

If CPR does not apply to you, and you do not have enough years of funding to complete your studies, there may be some alternatives options.

For support and information, please contact UCW’s Student Finance Officer April at finance@ucw.ac.uk.

What if I need to repeat just one or a couple of modules?

If you need to repeat no more than 40 credits, you can trail this module through to your next year of study, which imposes no additional financial implications. If you need to retake more than 40 credits there are two options for repeating a year of study:

  • Studying full-time, in which your fees will be charged on a pro rata basis.
  • Studying part time, in which you will be charged the part-time fees figure.

Finance Guide


For further information on your options for funding our degree programmes, and the support that's available download our helpful guide...