If you’re a student you’ve probably been told about how important education is. However, education can also be incredibly expensive and be difficult on your bank account.
Luckily, there are a range of finical aid schemes available to help students pay for the costs of their education and supporting themselves while studying. One of these schemes is a student loan, which is the most common among students. The only trouble is knowing if you’re even eligible to use one based on your situation and your course. Read on to find out.
In short, students will generally be able to get a student loan for courses that are considered part of higher education, including a bachelor’s degree, a HNC, a HND and a foundation degree. Unless it is a top up degree, students will generally not be able to get a student loan to take a second undergraduate qualification. However, students can get a postgraduate loan to do a master’s degree as well as a doctorate degree as long as it is the first one that they’ve done.
Continue reading to get a more in-depth answer about your eligibility for a student loan based on the specific qualification you may be studying. This article will take you through a range of further and higher qualifications to help you better understand the eligibility for a student loan.
Table of Contents
What is a student loan in the UK?
When talking about the ins and outs of student loans and the eligibility requirements for them, everything can get a little confused. To ensure that we’re all on the same page, let’s establish what we exactly mean when talking about a student loan.
In the UK, a student loan will typically refer to money that students can borrow in order to help pay for their tuition fees and living costs while they’re at college or university. This loan is not a bursary or scholarship and will need to be paid back. To learn more about the repayments, check out this Think Student article.
A student loan isn’t available for all forms of education. The rest of the article will talk you through the main types of further and higher education, giving you more information about whether you can get a student loan for these.
Can you get a student loan for sixth form college?
Simply put, no you can’t get a student loan for sixth form or sixth form college. This is because to be eligible for a student loan, you need to be studying a specific type of course at college or university, as mentioned above.
Specifically, this course will need to enable you to achieve some form of higher education qualification, whereas sixth form is part of further education. In the UK, a higher education qualification is a type of qualification that is at qualification level 4 or above in England, Wales or Northern Ireland or at level 8 or above in Scotland.
Are sixth form colleges free?
In the UK, it is a legal requirement for sixth forms and sixth form colleges to provide free education if offered by a state school or college for students between the ages of 16 and 19. This means that the vast majority of sixth form colleges are free for 16- 19-year-olds.
However, private sixth form colleges are not government-funded and so they don’t need to provide free sixth form education. Due to this, private sixth form colleges will typically require a fee.
For sixth forms, the average in the UK was £5,421 per term in 2021. To learn more about this, check out this Think Student article.
To learn more about sixth forms and sixth form colleges being free, check out this Think Student article.
Do you need a student loan for sixth form college?
As mentioned above, sixth form colleges are free for students between the ages of 16 and 19 and for students older than this, it’s not quite counted as sixth form. This means that students won’t need a student loan to cover a tuition fee at a state sixth form college.
While students may need aid to cover the costs of a private sixth form college, as mentioned above, it is not possible for students to receive a student loan for sixth form college. However, students may be able to receive aid in the form of a scholarship or bursary that the sixth form college itself offers.
Students may also be able to receive some financial aid due to the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund if they go to a state sixth form or college. In order to be eligible for this scheme, students would need to meet certain criteria, such as being in care or a care leaver, receiving Income Support or Universal Credit or receiving Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payments in their own right. To learn more about this, check out this guide by the government.
How much do you get from student finance for sixth form?
You can’t actually get a student loan or help from student finance for sixth form. However, you may still be able to get financial aid, such as an assisted place or bursary for a private sixth form or the government’s 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.
The exact amount of aid that students may be able to get in order to help them pay for a private sixth form will depend on the private sixth forms themselves. This is because they’re the ones who get to choose if and how to offer this aid.
Some types of aid, such as scholarships, may only be about 10% of tuition fees. However, it’s also possible for financial aid to mean that students pay very little towards their private schooling or some may even be able to go for free. To learn more about this, check out this article by The Good Schools Guide and this guide by the Independent Schools Council (ISC).
For state-owned sixth forms, students may be eligible for the 16 to 19 Bursary Fund. As mentioned above, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get up to £1,200.
Remember, unlike a student loan, this won’t need to be paid back. To learn more about this, check out this governmental guide.
Can you get a student loan for an apprenticeship?
Apprentices are also not eligible to receive a student loan. This is due to the nature of an apprenticeship itself.
In the UK, apprenticeships are paid jobs where apprentices receive on-the-job training and spend 20% of their time in academic learning as well. The costs of both this academic learning and the on-the-job training will be up to the employer to cover.
This means that students won’t even need a student loan for tuition fees. Also, as an apprenticeship is a paid job, apprentices should be able to earn enough to support themselves, meaning that they won’t need a maintenance loan.
Also, as some apprenticeships are a part of further education rather than higher education, you wouldn’t be able to get a student loan for them anyway. This is in the same way as for sixth form colleges.
Can you get a student loan for university?
At university, students can study a range of qualifications, from short courses to bachelor’s degrees or even qualifications at a higher level, such as master’s degrees or even a PhD. Due to this fact, categorising all of these different qualifications can be incredibly difficult as not all the same things will apply to each of them.
This is particularly the case when it comes to student loans. Check out the following sections to learn more about specific qualifications that universities can offer to learn more about how student loans specifically affect them.
Can you get a student loan for an undergraduate degree?
When thinking about student loans and the qualifications that you can get these for an undergraduate degree is probably the first thing that you think of. Due to this, it’s a more obvious yes that students are able to get a student loan for an undergraduate degree.
However, this will only be the case if it is the student’s first degree (or alternative course eligible for a student loan). Unless the student has certain circumstances that may mean that they were unable to previously complete their first degree or alternative higher education course, they will not be able to gain funding for a second degree.
To learn more about getting a student loan for an undergraduate degree, check out this page by the government. For more on whether you can get a student loan for a second degree, check out this Think Student article.
Can you get a student loan for an open university degree?
When studying for a degree online, such as with the Open University, it can be difficult to know what things are the same as an in-person degree and what things are different. This may lead you to wonder whether you can get the same kind of financial support for your online degree.
For an online degree, particularly one from the Open University as it is an accredited institution, you are able to get a student loan to cover your tuition fees in the same way that you would for any other degree.
You may be eligible to receive a maintenance loan for an online degree, such as through the Open University, if you’re unable to attend university in-person due to your personal situation. To learn more about this, check out this article by What Uni.
Can you get a student loan for an online course?
The term “online course” is rather vague and can cover a wide range of different courses and qualifications. Due to this, whether you are able to get a student loan for said “online course” will also depend on the specifics of it.
If your online course would allow you to be eligible for a student loan when in-person, then you will generally be able to get a student loan even if that course is online. This is particularly for qualifications, such as bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, PhDs, HNCs, HNDs, foundation degrees and more. To learn more about this, check out this article by UK Study Online.
However, it can be a little bit more complicated as students will often study online as they’re studying part-time. In order to be eligible for a student loan, students will need to have a ‘course intensity’ of at least 25%.
This means that they will need to complete at least 25% of what the full-time course would each year. To learn more about this, check out this guide by the government.
Can you get a student loan for a foundation degree?
In the UK, a foundation degree is a higher education qualification where students will spend their time between studying and doing a work placement in the industry. A foundation degree will typically last 2 years and is a level 5 qualification.
This, in comparison to a bachelor’s degree, which normally lasts 3 years and is a level 6 qualification, isn’t worth a full degree. This may lead you to wonder if you’re even able to get student finance for a course such as this one.
Like with other forms of higher education, if this foundation degree is your first degree or higher education qualification and you’re studying full-time, then you should be eligible to receive the full entitlement for your tuition fees and some as a maintenance loan also. This is similar to how you would get a student loan for a full bachelor’s degree.
To learn more about foundation degrees and getting a student loan for one, check out this Think Student article.
Can you get a student loan for an art foundation course?
As an art foundation course sounds quite similar to a foundation degree, you may feel that the same terms in regard to a student loan would apply. However, this is not the case and students won’t be able to get a student loan for an art foundation course.
This is because and art foundation course is not a foundation degree and is instead a diploma. Students are unable to get a student loan for an art foundation course because they’re designed as further education courses rather than higher education.
As mentioned above, a further education course is where students study after completing Year 11 or equivalent at level 3 or below. To learn more about further education, check out this Think Student article.
For more information about financial aid for an art foundation course, check out this page by Loughborough University.
Can you get a student loan for a masters?
Students are able to get a student loan for a master’s degree. This is instead known as a postgraduate loan.
In order to be eligible for this postgraduate loan for a master’s degree, students must not have a previous master’s degree or a higher-level qualification. They must also not have any outstanding repayments for the Student Loans Company or be receiving payments from Student Finance.
Also, students must not have previously received a loan or grant for their master’s degree, unless this is a Disabled Student’s Allowance or if the student had previously left their course due to extenuating circumstances. To learn more about the eligibility requirements for a master’s postgraduate loan, check out this page on the government website.
Can you get a student loan for an MBA?
An MBA or a Master of Business Administration degree is a type of master’s degree. While it is one of the most highly recognised types of master’s degree, it is not actually different to the rest in terms of your eligibility for a student loan.
This means that students are able to get a student loan for an MBA as they can for any other master’s degree, as mentioned above. The same requirements will also apply to MBA students for getting the postgraduate loan. To learn more about this, check out this article by Postgrad.com.
Can you get a student loan for a PhD?
Students are able to get a student loan for a PhD. This will be a postgraduate doctoral loan as a PhD is a type of doctorate degree. To be eligible for the doctoral loan, student need to be on a course that last between 3 and 8 academic years and has a UK university as the lead institution of it’s not the only one.
Students will not be eligible for this loan if they’re already receiving some other kind of funding. This includes Research Council funding, a social work bursary, an Education Psychology bursary, an NHS bursary or if they are still receiving funding from Student Finance for another course or if they have outstanding repayments to the Student Loans Company.
Students will also not be eligible for a doctoral loan if they already have a doctorate degree. To learn more about the eligibility for getting a loan for a PhD, check out this page on the government website.