Do You Get a Maintenance Loan for a Foundation Year?

In General, University by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

There are a whole host of different pathways into higher education, whether that’s at undergraduate or postgraduate level. One undergraduate pathway is a foundation year: a single year of full-time study that you can take before you pursue a full-time bachelor’s degree. For undergraduate degrees, you’re eligible to receive student loans, but is this also the case for a foundation year?

Yes, you are eligible for a maintenance loan from Student Finance for a foundation year. Although the amount you receive as a maintenance loan will vary on a variety of factors such as household income, you will still receive a minimum amount or higher for a foundation year.

In this article, I’ll be covering all your student finance-related questions about foundation years, and how to apply for funding a foundation year!

Can you get a maintenance loan for a foundation year?

Whether or not you will be eligible to get a maintenance loan for a foundation year will depend on whether or not you do it as a part of your degree. If you do it as a separate course then the foundation year is a form of further education, not higher education like a degree. In this case, you won’t be able to get a maintenance loan for your foundation year.

However, if you do a foundation year as a part of your degree programme then you absolutely can get a maintenance loan for your foundation year!

This is because a foundation year done at university, despite only being 1/3 of the length of a full degree and technically being a level 3 qualification, is still university-level study, which means you’ll be able to apply for funding.

You can read more about this in this Think Student article.

Keep in mind, since a foundation year is only a year long, you will only be able to receive loans for the years you are actively in education, and not for 3 years as if you were studying an undergraduate degree.

However, you should still receive as much student loan as a student (with similar financial circumstances) who is studying a full-time undergraduate degree.

The status of ‘foundation year’ only affects the duration of the maintenance loan, not how much you might be entitled to.

Do you need a maintenance loan for a foundation year?

Whether or not you need a maintenance loan for your foundation year is dependent on your household income.

Maintenance loan money is used for anything from rent to food, to utility bills, to spending money and nights out. 

If you think you’re in a financial situation that allows you to fund yourself through your foundation year, then you might not apply for a maintenance loan.

However, for most students, it’s recommended and as a student myself I would definitely advise applying for a maintenance loan.

You may think that since you’re only studying for a year, you probably won’t spend that much money, so you won’t need a loan. However, a lot of students (myself included) really underestimate how expensive living independently is!

A maintenance loan is not mandatory, so you don’t have to apply for one if you don’t want to take out a loan.

Personally, I would only consider not applying for a maintenance loan if you are completely sure you can support yourself. Otherwise, a maintenance loan can help cover most of your university expenses.

Is a foundation year at university free?

Whether or not a foundation year is free depends on the situation. If you are 19 years old or younger when you take your foundation year and do it at college, separately to a degree then yes, the foundation year will be free. This is because foundation years are level 3 qualifications, just like A-Levels and so are treated in the same way.

However, if you are over the age of 19 or if you take a foundation year as a part of your degree programme then it won’t be free.  In this case, a foundation year, despite only being one year, financially functions as effectively the same as a full degree (but obviously you only pay for one year, not three).

You will still have to pay tuition fees to your institution, which can be as expensive as up to £9,250. You get this money when you apply for Student Finance as a tuition fee loan.

Then there are also university living expenses which are covered by your maintenance loan.

While you don’t pay these to your university, you’ll still have to pay them back eventually, so they are still technically an expense.

If you’re considering a foundation year, I’d recommend checking out this Think Student article for helpful information about foundation years.

How much does a foundation year cost in the UK?

According to Arden University, on this page of their website, “a foundation year costs the same as any other annual university degree fee.”

This means that while you obviously won’t be paying as much as someone studying a full degree, you won’t have discounted fees if you’re only completing a foundation year.

Tuition fees in the UK can go up to a maximum of £9,250. These will be covered by Student Finance and paid to your institution directly.

Your maintenance loan is technically not a ‘cost’ of your foundation year as it isn’t paid to your institution but is instead there to support you with day-to-day expenses whilst you’re at university.

Your maintenance loan will likely be a lot lower than if you were studying for a full degree.

If your maintenance loan for your foundation degree is still lower than expected, check out this Think Student article for potential reasons why.

How do you apply for a maintenance loan for a foundation year from Student Finance?

If you’re a student in England, you will have to make an application to Student Finance England to receive funding for your degree.

In order to apply for student finance to fund your foundation year, you will need to:

  1. Create an online account for student finance
  2. Log into your account and fill out the online application
  3. Send proof of your identity if Student Finance England request it
  4. Include details about your household income that your parents/carers/guardians will be asked to confirm.

You will have to submit these before the student finance application deadline. If you’d like to read more about the application deadlines for Student Finance, check out this Think Student article.

When you apply for student finance you will be applying to fund a foundation year, so you won’t have to make any special declaration that you want to fund a foundation year.

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