Have you ever thought: When will I get my student maintenance loan? How much will I receive? How do I pay it back and how much interest will I owe when I graduate?

ARTICLE UPDATE: Valid for 2021/2022

You aren’t the only one. This comprehensive guide will answer all your questions (plus a bunch more) and show you exactly how to get the most out of your student maintenance loan.

But first things first…
This article reports information about the government-backed student loans. Future Finance always encourages students to apply for a government-funded loan from the SLC as their first option when looking to fund their time at university.

Note: Future Finance is not affiliated with SLC and government-funded maintenance loans.

Click any of the questions below and we’ll see if we can answer them. If you have any other questions be sure to get in touch with our team directly, we’ll be happy to help.

Student maintenance loan table of contents:

What is a maintenance loan?

A maintenance loan means you will receive funding for your day to day expenses directly into your bank account. This money will have to be paid back but only after you start earning above the repayment threshold. For all undergraduate students entering university education after 2012, the current repayment threshold is a salary above £27,295 for 2021/22. This will remain at its current level of £27,295 for the next financial year. If you happen to lose your job for any reason or fall on hard times, your payments will stop once your income drops below the threshold.

Maintenance loans are available to all students eligible for Student Finance England. The amount distributed is dependent on several factors which can include where you are studying, household income and whether there are other dependents in your household.

When is the maintenance loan paid?

Student Maintenance loans payments are released in three instalments. You should receive your maintenance loan at the start of each term. Typically this means you will receive funds in:

  • January
  • April
  • September (if you are starting a new term)

Remember: The largest sum you will receive will be in the final semester as this is due to cover your summer expenses as well as the term’s living costs.

student maintenance loan guide

Are you eligible for extra support?

Students may be eligible to apply for extra government funding support if they qualify in any of the following:

  • Parents
  • Students from low-income backgrounds
  • Students with a disability or long-term health condition
  • Students who qualify for housing benefit
  • Students who have have existing financial dependents
  • More info can be found on the SLC website

If you are finding it tough to cover all your uni costs and the governement funding is not enough, be sure to check out Future Finance loans for students. We might be able to help.

What does my maintenance loan cover?

Everything! Once you receive your maintenance loan you should immediately work out a realistic budget. It will need to cover the following:

  • Rent (if you are living away from home)
  • Bills
  • Food
  • Transport costs
  • Social events… be careful not to overspend here
  • Household goods (soap, washing up liquid, toilet paper..)
  • Books

Once you know how much maintenance loan you have received work out how much you can spend per month/week/day. There is a great student budget calculator  that is a great way to keep track of your money.

Not enough to live on?
We surveyed students to ask them where they needed more support around finance for uni. 1 in 2 said they needed more support for tuition and cost of living. Students said they felt most stretched covering monthly bills, accommodation and transport.

What to spend maintenance loan on:

It can be easy to get carried away when your first maintenance loan arrives in your bank account but remember – a maintenance loan is designed to last for a long time and it doesn’t leave much room for luxuries.

Be sure to budget out your maintenance amount to last until you expect to receive more income.

Where to send maintenance loan form:

This is an easy one. Just send your completed form here

You can also apply by post – send your application to: Student Finance England, PO Box 210, Darlington DL1 9HJ

How much maintenance loan will I get?

Short answer – it depends on several factors including your living arrangements and household income.

The maximum maintenance loan available is £12,382 per annum for the 2021/2022 academic year but this is only applicable if you are living in London away from family home. Your university location and living situation will all factor in to determine the amount you will be entitled to.

See the table here for the various amounts available and check out the maintenance loan calculator on the SFE website to get an estimate of what you could be entitled to.

How maintenance loans work:

  • Student Finance England  will provide you with a maintenance loan for day to day living costs and a tuition fee loan to pay the university (if you are eligible).
  • The maintenance loan will be paid directly into your bank account in three instalments at the start of each term
  • The loan amount will depend on your living circumstances and your household income, which you can work out before receiving the loan.

But wait, what if the loan doesn’t arrive in my account before rent is due?

If you are staying in university accommodation there is nothing to worry about. They will only take rent once the maintenance loan has been deposited into your account.

If you are staying in private accommodation, be sure to let your landlord know when you expect the loan to arrive.

How maintenance loan is calculated?

  • The amount you will receive for your maintenance loan is calculated by how much your parents earn per annum and other factors.
  • This can be increased if you are eligible for extra help

You can find out more about extra maintenance loans here. You should also check out Student Finance England maintenance loan calculator.

How is maintenance loan paid back?

Ok, this can get a bit complicated…

  • The first thing to know is that you will not need to start paying back your loan until you start earning over the UK repayment threshold as we previously mentioned
  • If you have an employer then the loan will come directly out of your payslip, like a tax. If you are self-employed you pay at the same time as your tax returns.
  • Interest rates constantly change but as of March 2022, the minimum student loan interest rate is 1.5% for students who started uni in or after 2012 in Wales and England (extra interest is charged dependent on your student status and income level as explained further below).

If you are let go from your employment or fall on hard times then your loan repayment will pause. The loan debt is wiped out after 30 years.

I just don’t get interest…

You’re not the only one. Check out our guide to APR and interest, it’ll describe everything you need in an understandable format.

How do I work out my interest?

You will be charged a base interest rate of 4.5% over your total loan amount while you are in study (RPI is 1.5% at the time of writing, the interest rate is RPI + 3% while studying).

When you have finished your studies, you interest rate will drop to 1.5% once you are earning below the repayment threshold of £27,295 currently. If you start earning over £49,130, your interest will increase again to 4.5%.
This interest is being added to your total amount repayable.

You will then be required to pay 9% (or 6% for postgraduates) of everything you may earn above £27,295 each year (or above £21,000 for postgraduates). This is different to interest as this is how much of the loan you really have to pay back once you start earning over the repayment threshold.  

Maintenance loan repayment example

In other words, it’s complicated… Here’s an example for 2021/2022 to make it easier

Example: Living away from home in London

You are a full-time undergraduate student living in London.

You do not live in your family home and your parents total household income is £80,000 combined.

You will be entitled to a maintenance loan of around £6,166.

This means that once you graduate and are earning £27,295 you will accrue an interest rate of 1.5% (as of Mar 2022) over your amount repayable

You will then have to repay 9% of your income over the threshold. The threshold is currently gross £27,295 a year.

For example, your total income pre-tax is £35,000 annually.

As you are expected to pay 9% of everything you earn over the threshold of £27,295, you will be expected to pay 9% of £7,705 which will total £693 per year. This works out as roughly £58 pounds a month.

See the sums:

Total income - Repayment Threshold

£35,000 - £27,295 = £7,705

9% of £7,705 = £693.45 owed annually (£58 pounds docked from your wages every month)

You still accrue interest of between 1.5% and 4.5% on your student loan amount.

How to apply for a maintenance loan:

You can apply for a student maintenance loan on the SLC website. Simply follow the instructions online and complete the form. The process does not take long. You can also apply for a maintenance loan through the post but the online method is easier and more efficient.

Who qualifies for maintenance loan:

  • New full time students
  • Continuing full time students
  • Part-time students
  • EU students (must have lived in the UK for 3 or more years)

Who doesn’t qualify for a student maintenance loan?

  • Students doing a second degree at the same level (not a Postgraduate course)
  • Students from outside of the EU that have not been living in the UK for more than 3 years
  • Students over 60 years of age

Why has my maintenance loan reduced?

Maintenance looking a little light? Are you a final year student?

When you are in final year the amount of your maintenance loan will reduce. Strictly speaking this is because once you finish your final exams, you are not a student anymore. In your previous few years as a student, the government took into account summer vacation. However, this no longer applies once a student has completed their final term.

Is the maintenance loan interest-free?

Very few loans are interest-free and the maintenance loan is no different. We have discussed the interest rates and how they work on student maintenance loans from SLC above. Note that it works differently to interest charged on other private funding options such as student credit cards and private student loans such as Future Finance loans for students.

Minimum student maintenance loan – Maximum Student Maintenance Loan

The chart below outlines the maximum maintenance loan available for the academic year 2021-2022. Each section is dependent on whether you are living at home or not.

We often get asked what is the minimum maintenance loan a student can apply for and the answer is simple…as little as you want. If you only want to apply for £500 you can do so.

Full Time Student Minimum Maintenance Loan
2021 – 2022
Maximum Maintenance Loan
2021 – 2022
Living at home As little as you need £7,987
Living away from home, outside London As little as you need £9,488
Living away from home, in London As little as you need £12,382

We know you’re busy, so check out these short versions of common questions:

  • Who can get a student maintenance loan?

Any student that is entering higher level education for the first time at a certified university and course.

  • What is a maintenance loan?

Is a sum money used for living costs of a student (not for tuition fees).  

  • Why can’t I get a maintenance loan?

You may not be entitled to a maintenance loan if you are doing a second degree at the same level, are over 60 or are from a country outside of the EU and have not been living in the UK for more than 3 years.

  • When does my maintenance loan arrive?

At the beginning of each term. This means students may have different arrival dates so don’t be scared if you have not yet received your maintenance loan when expected.  

  • Where do I apply for a maintenance loan?

Apply for a maintenance loan on the Student Finance England  website

New to Future Finance?

When government funding is not enough, we offer extra funding in the form of private loans to students in the UK. We offer loans designed for students, which means lower, capped repayments in study, repayment holidays and a loan plan based on your course and university, not just your credit score (which is often a blocker for students to access loans).

You can apply online for a Future Finance student loan in less than a couple of minutes. And we won’t keep you hanging. Our smart technology means you’ll get a decision fast, without it affecting your credit score.