Since last year universities and colleges can now charge full-time students a maximum of £9,000 a year in tuition fees. Many courses will be cheaper than this (for example, when there are provided by local colleges) but the average is estimated to be £8,350.

The good news is that this doesn’t need to be paid by you! Students are able to take out a loan to cover the cost of fees and don’t need to pay this back until after they’ve graduated and are earning more than £21,000 a year.

If they live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales (or if the course is funded by the NHS) they may pay less or nothing at all.


There are two parts to the student loan. The first part covers tuition fees as above while the second part (the maintenance loan) is to help with living costs (accommodation, food, travel etc).

For English students the maximum maintenance loan per year is:

Living at home – up to £4,418
Living away from home outside London – up to £5,555
Living away from home in London – up to £7,751

It is estimated that a typical English student (that’s nationality not course!) on a three-year course outside of London might expect to graduate with around £35,000 – £40,000 of student loan. This could be reduced if they are entitled to a Fee Waiver or Maintenance Grant.

Most universities offer various bursaries, scholarships or fee waivers, particularly to students from lower income families. These are grants and don’t need to be paid back at all.

As I said above, your child only starts paying their loan back if they’re earning in excess of £21,000.

If after leaving university they’re not working or are earning less than £21,000 per year they don’t have to pay anything back. And if they do earn more than £21,000 their repayments will be based on what they’re earning over the £21,000 threshold.

Welsh repayments works in the same way, while for Scottish and Northern Irish students the threshold is currently £15,575.

For more detail (including how repayments are calculated) read my full article.

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