Hi, I’m Hollie and in this blog I’m going to be talking about how you can apply for student finance and how it can help you.
Have you decided that you are heading to university and wondering how can you afford it? You may have heard of Student Finance, a scheme that provides you with a loan for your university tuition fees and a maintenance loan to help you with accommodation and living fees. I know how daunting it can be having to go through the whole process of applying and sorting everything out on your own, so I am here to help you!
What will I need before I apply?
During the process of your application you will need various documents and forms of ID. Before I started my application, I had them prepared and ready to go so that I didn’t waste time having to look for them halfway through the application form. You will need:
- Course start date and end date
- National insurance number
- Bank account details
- Form of identity such as your passport or birth certificate
When do I apply?
It’s a good idea to keep in mind that the deadline for new students applying for student finance is typically in May, before you start your course. For this application cycle it is 22 May 2021 and so if you know you are going to university before then, it’s important to get your student finance application in within the deadline. However, if you do decide to come to university past that deadline date, this doesn’t mean that you can’t access student finance and my experience applying reflects that.
I decided to come to university years after I left college. I applied to university in May 2018 and didn’t apply for my student finance until June 2018. I was obviously extremely worried that I had missed the chance, since the deadline had already passed and was wondering if I was going to be able to afford this big decision to go university. I headed to social media for some advice from the student finance pages and to my surprise they told me not to worry and there was still time to apply.
So why do they have a deadline? The time frame is there to ensure that you get your payment on time and so that you have sorted your finances out before term starts. It takes six weeks for an application to be processed and so by applying before the deadline you are giving yourself and them time to complete everything that needs to be done and allowing time for any complications. When it came to my own personal application, although I made my decision to come to university later than others, it was still confirmed within the six week period and I was fortunate to receive my payment on time.My top tip: As soon as you know you are going to university, apply for student finance.
How do I complete my application?
Okay, let’s get on to applying. When I started, I had no clue on what to do, but luckily the GOV website guided me through the whole process easily. I also had my nan and mum to help me through the process if I was stuck on anything or had a question related to them.
- Create a student finance account. Make sure you remember or jot down your log in details, so that you can log back into your account after. You will need this to keep track of your application and when reapplying in the following years.
- Filling in your application. This is when you are going to need your proof of identity such as your passport or birth certificate, mentioned earlier. You’ll also need the things you may already have prepared such as bank details, course dates and national insurance number.
- Household income evidence. Your maintenance loan is based on your parent/s or partners income, this will determine the money you receive. You will need their national insurance number, contact details and their personal income details. Your parents/partner will be contacted directly to supply any evidence which may be needed. They will also have to supply evidence if they are divorced or separated.
- Wait for confirmation. Once all the evidence and information has been sent, your account should state ‘awaiting confirmation’ which could take up to six weeks to process. Mine has always come through quickly and on time. I received a letter in the post confirming this process and the payments I will receive.
It’s completely understandable that you may have concerns or worries surrounding student finance/loans and the application. Hopefully I have been able to settle your mind with the points I have made above. However, to make it an even smoother process for you, I wanted to address a few more things that you may be stressed about and that I thought about when applying.
Qu.1. What if my details change? Don’t stress! Once you have applied for your student finance you can easily go back into your application and change your details. If you decide to change course, university, or personal details you can change them before starting your course.
Qu.2. Will student finance affect my credit score? Nope. Your student loan doesn’t affect your credit score and will not appear on any reports when applying for a credit card, loan or mortgage.
Qu.3. Do I have to repay my loan straight after I graduate? Once again, nope. You won’t have to start paying back your loan until the April after you have graduated and even then, you have to be earning a certain amount before you need to pay it back. You can find out more information on the GOV website about the amounts that you must be earning and repayment plans. My top tip would be to note this down and understand it a little better but there is no need to get overwhelmed by it. Just have it on your radar and be aware of it.
Qu.4. Is it worth it? I would honestly say that applying and receiving student finance is 100% worth it. Without it I could have never afforded university costs and accommodation. Whilst I do have a job alongside university, the loan ensures I can afford my rent and any extra living costs. It allows you to attend university and not have to worry about certain financial aspects which is a great bonus.