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?

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…
If you are eligible for a loan from Student Finance England you definitely should take it. They are probably the best way for students to fund study in the UK. The only problem is that they often don’t fund students adequately and this can cause a lot of stress. If you are struggling to live on your maintenance loan check out this article on alternative funding options for students – it could help.

Click any of the questions below and we’ll see if we can answer them. If you have any other questions be sure to pop them in the comments, 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 £25,000 and if you lose your job or fall on hard times then your payments will stop.

In other words, a student maintenance loan is a sum of money for living costs. This money arrives in the form of a loan and is available to all students eligible for Student Finance England . The amount distributed per student will depend on where and when the applicant studies.

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 terms living costs. If your student maintenance loan isn’t enough this article on how Future Finance student loans work might help.

student maintenance loan guide

What is additional maintenance loan?

Make sure to not confuse_ additional maintenance loan_ with extra student maintenance. The two terms sound similar but have two different meanings:

Additional Maintenance Loan

You can often (but not always) get an additional maintenance loan if your course is longer than the regular 30 weeks. This will really depend on the course you are doing and is taken on a case by case basis.

Extra Student Maintenance

You can receive extra student maintenance if you fall under one of the groups below:

  • Single parents with a child under 20
  • A married couple both in education with a child under 20
  • Have a disability
  • Qualify for housing benefit
  • Have been incapable of working for 28 weeks
  • Have been certified as being ill or had a caring responsibility
  • More info can be found on the SFE website

If you are finding it tough to survive be sure to check out Future Finance. 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 might be handy

Not enough to live on?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. The average student is being left with a deficit of 3k per year!
Which is crazy.

If you are finding it tough to survive be sure to check out Future Finance. We might be able to help.

What to spend maintenance loan on:

A better question might be what not to spend your 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. It doesn’t leave much room for luxuries.

In fact the average deficit for a student in the UK is now over £3k per year ! If you can’t get access to the bank of mum and dad and need real help to fund your studies, give us a shout. We might be able to help.

Where to send maintenance loan form:

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

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

How much maintenance loan will I get?

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

The maximum maintenance loan available is £11,354 per annum but this is only applicable if you are living in London away from family home.

The average student will be given around £3,000 per term… which when factoring rent and living costs doesn’t leave that much to play around with.

Check out the maintenance loan calculator on the SFE website to get an estimate.

How maintenance loan works:

  • 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.
  • 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.

What if my landlord is a sh*t…

If you are having difficulty with your landlord be sure to check out this article on your rights as a tenant. As a student you have plenty of rights, you just need to know what they are!

Oh and check out this article on tenancy deposit schemes as well…it sounds boring but it’s could help you save some dosh on rent.

How maintenance loan is calculated?

  • The amount you will receive for your maintenance loan is calculated by how much your parents earn per annum.
  • The maximum maintenance loan for 2018-2019 is £11,354 per annum.
  • This can be increased if you are eligible for extra student maintenance loan.

You can find out more about extra maintenance loan 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, which is currently £25,000 a year for undergraduate loans and £21,000 for postgraduate loans (including Postgraduate Master’s and Postgraduate Doctoral).
  • If you have an employer then the loan will come directly out of your payslip. If you are self-employed you pay at the same time as your tax returns.
  • Interest rates for maintenance loan are 3% plus inflation rates.

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 crash course on financial terms, it’ll describe everything you need in an understandable format.

3% interest plus inflation rates…what the hell does that mean?

You will be charged a base interest rate of 3%. An additional percentage will be added which is called the Retail Price Index (basically just a fancy term for describing how stuff gets more expensive in a percent). At the time of writing the RPI was 2.2%.

This means (at the time of writing) students will pay an interest rate of 5.2% on government student loans.

You are also required to pay 9% (6% for postgraduates) of your total earnings. This is different to interest, this is just how much of the loan you have to pay back once you start earning over the UK repayment threshold.
Maintenance loan repayment example

In other words, it’s complicated…here’s an example 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 £5,650.

This means that once you graduate and are earning £25,000 you will pay an interest rate of 3% + retail price index (which is currently 2.2 %.)

You will also have to repay the 9% of your income over the threshold. The threshold is currently £2,083 a month.

If your monthly earnings were £2,500 (pre-tax) the formula would look like this:

Total Earnings pre-tax: £30,000

Monthly earnings pre-tax: £2,500

£2,500 – £2,083 = £417

9% of £417 = £37.53

So you would pay £37.53 per month excluding interest.

On top of that you will pay interest of 3% + retail price index (which was 2.2% at the time of writing).

How to apply for a maintenance loan:

You can apply for a student maintenance loan on the Student Finance England 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)

But more importantly, who doesn’t…

Who doesn’t qualify for a student maintenance loan?

  • Students doing a second degree at the same level eg not a postgrad
  • 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

If you are ineligible for a student loan give us a shout. We love to help students whose ambitions centre around education.

Why has maintenance loan reduced?

Maintenance looking a little light? Final year student? Thought so.

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. But once you are no longer a student, they no longest have a duty of care.

Is the maintenance loan interest-free?

Very few loans are interest-free and the maintenance loan is no different. The maintenance loan has an interest rate of 3% + RPI. Which is a very good deal but not interest-free.

Minimum student maintenance loan – Maximum Student Maintenance Loan

The chart below outlines the maximum maintenance loan available for the academic year 2018-2019. 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 2018 – 2019 Maximum Maintenance Loan 2018 – 2019
Living at home As small as you need £7,324
Living at home, outside London As small as you need £8,700
Living at home, in London As small as you need £11,354

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. This includes; books, food, drink, household goods and socialising.

  • 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

  • Where do I apply for a maintenance loan?

Apply for a maintenance loan on the Student Finance England website

  • Which maintenance loan plan should I get?

This is really up to you, but in our experience most students have chosen plan 2. You can find out more about the plans here.

New to Future Finance?

We’re the only specialist provider of student loans 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.

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. See how we compare…