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Student financial advice

Student Financial Advice

University should be one of the most exciting times of your life. However tuition fees and other costs make many of students wonder whether they will be able to manage financially. Below there are some tips and advice which will hopefully encourage you to think about the likely costs and the most effective ways to manage them.


Generic information on this page is kindly provided by The Money Charity, in partnership with Santander. The Money Charity does not endorse any particular financial products or services.

View student Money Manual

Tuition Fees Explained

  • Fees vary according to a whole host of factors, from where you live to where in the UK you study. You can be charged up to £9,000 a year wherever you study in the UK unless:

    • You are a Scottish/EU resident studying in Scotland (no fees)

    • You are a Welsh resident (a fee grant caps tuition costs at around £3,500 a year)

    • You are an NI/EU resident studying in NI (fees capped at £3,685 a year)

    "Private" colleges can charge even home (UK) students what they like - they are not bound by the £9k fees cap. Part-time fees are typically calculated on a sliding scale depending on what percentage of the full-time course is covered each year.

  • Most first-time full and part-time students will not have to pay anything up front. Instead, you'll be offered a Tuition Fees Loan, which you don’t start paying back until you are in work and earning over a certain amount. You cannot get the fees loan if you have already done a degree or similar course, or you are an international student, so you'll have to consider other loans, bursaries, scholarships or savings.

  • Do not make choices on fees alone: your interest in the subject, future career plans and personal development will be equally as valuable as your salary in later life. On the other hand, do not think far distant loan repayments are all you have to worry about: you will need to cover the cost of everything from laundry to light bills over the next few years. Find out for yourself what is involved and make an informed choice.

If you are studying for your first full-time or part-time degree (or equivalent course) and are a UK or EU student, you can apply for help with costs from the Government via the Student Loans Company (SLC) and your country’s student finance body.

You can apply for two different types of loans to cover your tuition fees and maintenance costs. Below is a breakdown of what is covered under these loans:

  • Tuition fees pay for things like teaching, building maintenance, facilities and equipment. Institutions that charge the full £9,000 also have to set part of it aside to help students from low-income backgrounds, as well as for bursaries, scholarships and access funds.

  • Maintenance loans cover living costs and expenses such as rent, bills and general day-to-day spending. The amount you can borrow is dependant on your household income and can vary depending on your circumstances and location.

When you borrow money from the bank or Student Loan Company, you pay for the privilege through interest rates and fees. When you keep money in a savings account, the bank pays you, also through interest. As well as earning interest on your money, savings give you funds you can have fun with, put you in charge of your spending and, if you are not hostage to the interest and charges on loans and credit, can even bring down the cost of buying.

Why not take a look at some of Santander's Savings Accounts?

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As a student you can earn a certain amount per year before you have to pay tax (the Student Loan and grants don’t count as taxable income). Once you start getting payslips, any tax and National Insurance you owe will be automatically deducted and you will get whatever is left. Check you have got the right tax code on any payslips to avoid paying too much (or too little) tax. To find out more about your tax allowance visit

Do not spend more than your overdraft limit without talking to your bank as you will incur extra interest, charges and fees (the same goes if you spend more than you have got without having agreed an overdraft at all). Get into good banking and budgeting habits and talk to your bank if you think you are going to go over your limits - they may be able to extend your limit so you avoid charges.

Looking for an account with a student overdraft? Why not try the Santander Student Account?

Find out more

Most universities and colleges keep funds for students who are struggling to make ends meet; they may be called Hardship, Support or Access to Learning funds depending on where you’re studying.

You apply directly to your university for these funds and they decide ultimately which students can apply and for how much. They are usually earmarked for students with children, with disabilities or from low-income backgrounds. There may also be money in the pot to help out other students with unexpected difficulties like emergency travel costs due to bereavement or losing a part-time job you were relying on. Before you apply for hardship funds you will need to have enrolled on your course and already applied for the full Student Loan you are entitled to. You may also need to attend an interview and they may ask to see your budget.

As the name suggests, hardship funds are not intended to cover foreseeable costs as you are expected to budget for those, so you cannot depend being given them and you cannot use them to pay fees. If you do get any help, though, it’s often non repayable, meaning one less debt to worry about.