A University Student’s Mini Guide to Maintenance Loans

Maintenance loans (or student loans) are often one of the primary sources of income for a student during their time at university.

Maintenance loans are usually absolutely essential for students, as they tend to be their main source of financial income whilst being at university.

As a student, you’ll most likely be looking to secure a maintenance loan – so we have provided everything you need to know about them right here in this guide!

What is a maintenance loan?

A maintenance loan is a type of student loan that is intended to cover your cost of living whilst studying at university. It is a government provided loan that is meant to be used for living expenses such as rent, utility bills, food and social activities. The loan can be used for other costs, but of course your necessities should always be covered first.

Of course, we don’t want to encourage anyone to get into debt, however like tuition loans, maintenance loans are usually essential whilst studying at university, especially if you are moving to a new city.

How is the maintenance loan paid?

Your student loan will be paid to you in three instalments throughout the academic year. However, unlike your tuition fees which will be paid directly to the university, your maintenance loan will be paid straight into your student bank account. As the maintenance loan is paid directly to you, it will be up to you to manage it responsibly, so don’t get too carried away in fresher’s week!

Maintenance loan eligibility considerations:

In order to receive a student loan, you need to ensure you are eligible for the payments. The majority of student’s just starting out their undergraduates are eligible, but it’s a good idea to just double check for peace of mind.

University/college and course

The university you are attending must be a recognised institution of higher education, which in reality the majority of them are. The course you are going to be studying needs to make the list of qualifying courses determined by the government, but again, the majority of uni courses do qualify and you can check on the governments website to make sure yours has made the list.

Previous study

Typically, students are eligible for funding that lasts the duration of the course they have applied for plus one extra year of funding. In most cases, students are able to qualify for 4 years’ worth of loans, providing it is their first time studying.

If you were to drop out after two years of study and re apply for another course, you would usually only be eligible for another two years of funding. There are some exceptions to the rule, if you had to previously drop out due to compelling personal reasons then you may be eligible for the full funding, however, the rules may depend on each individual scenario.

If you have already previously completed a degree, then it is unlikely you will be able to get funding provided for another. Again, there are some minor exceptions, so you can check to see if you would qualify.


Thankfully, age isn’t much of an issue in terms of qualify for the maintenance loan. Restrictions may apply if you are over the age of 60, but there should still be some funding available to you if this is the case.

Nationality and residency status

In order to qualify for a maintenance loan, you need to be a UK national or have a settled status and you need to normally live in the UK and to have done so for the past three years before applying for the loan.

This criterion has been known to catch people out in the past, so it is best to check your eligibility status with the government if you are concerned you may not qualify for the loan due to nationality or residential reasons.

How big could your maintenance loan be?

The amount of maintenance loan you receive will be based on the following three factors:

  • Where in the UK you are from – Each country within the UK has a different funding body for students which will factor into the amount you receive.
  • Whether you’ll be living at home – There is more funding available for students who will be living away from home whilst at university, so this will play a factor in the amount you receive in maintenance.
  • Your household income – Students that come from poorer backgrounds will be eligible for more generous funding packages from the government, whereas students from higher income households will likely receive less government financial support.

The average maintenance loan amount

The maintenance loan amount can greatly vary, but the average amount is around £6,859 per year. The amount you are illegible for will be highly dependent on your household income, so it is difficult to give an average as everyone’s situation is different. Let’s have a look at some examples of what you might be eligible for:

  • If your Household Income is <£25,000 – you will receive £7,747 if you are living at home. £9,203 if you are living away from home (outside London) and £12,010 if you are living away from home (London).
  • If your Household Income is £40,000 – you will receive £5,789 if you are living at home. £7,225 if you are living away from home (outside London) and £10,000 if you are living away from home (London).
  • If your Household Income is £50,000 – you will receive £4,484 if you are living at home. £5,905 if you are living away from home (outside London) and £8,695 if you are living away from home (London).

As previously mentioned, each situation is different and the amount you will received is based on an exact figure from your household income rather than being in a banded system.

How to apply for a maintenance loan

Student applying for their maintenance loan online

If you are from England, Northern Ireland or Wales you can apply for your maintenance loan either online or through the post, however, if you are from Scotland you won’t have the postal option so you will need to apply for the loan online.

When does your student loan come in?

If you are from England, Northern Ireland or Wales, the first instalment is usually paid at the start of the academic year, with the next coming in January, and a final payment coming in around April.

If you’re from Scotland it will work a little differently and you’ll receive payments on the 7th of each month, meaning you won’t receive the loan in three instalments. There are obviously pros and cons to this, but it may well help you to budget your loan!

How to you repay your loan?

The repayment thresholds tend to change from year to year regarding student loans. Currently, you’ll only start to repay your student loan if you are earning over the following:

  • Students from England and Wales: If you are earning £26,575 a year before tax
  • Students from Scotland and Northern Ireland: If you are earning £19,390 before tax

When is your maintenance loan debt cancelled?

As a blanket rule, the remaining balance you owe for your maintenance loan will be cancelled 30 years on from when you became eligible to repay it, regardless of how much you have already paid off. If you’re from England, Scotland or Wales, your repayment loan will be written off after 30 years. If you are Northern Irish, it will be written off after 25 years.

The loan will also be written off if you suffer from a disability and you are no longer able to work, and it will also be written off in the tragic event of a death.

Share on Social Media

Student loan application