Tuition Fees Loan

Tuition fees are the charges that students must pay to their University to cover the cost of their course. It is worth noting however, that the tuition fee rules and regulations vary between countries within the UK. Students from England and Northern Ireland are required to pay tuition fees wherever they study in the UK. All Welsh students who study in Wales are entitled to a grant (money which must not be repaid) which significantly reduces their tuition fees, but they are required to pay fees if they study elsewhere. Similarly, students from Scotland are required to pay the full required fees of the UK higher education institution where they will be studying, unless they choose to study in Scotland in which case they are exempt from paying all fees if it is the student's first undergraduate degree.

For the 2008/2009 academic year, the maximum tuition fees which UK higher education institutions can charge for a 'home' undergraduate degree are set at £3,145. The term 'home' refers to the level of university or college fees paid by students who are residents of the UK and / or the EU, as opposed to 'overseas' students (non-EU). Most UK universities and colleges have opted to charge this maximum fee.

The percentage of this fee that you are required to pay depends on your family's income: those with a larger income are expected to pay most if not all of the fee, whilst those with a smaller income may be entitled to a tuition fees grant, which reduces the amount the student has to pay. For the 2008/2009 academic year, the maximum tuition fees grant is £2,700, and so even if you qualify for this grant you are still required to pay a minimum contribution of £445 towards the cost of your studies for the year.

If you cannot afford to pay the tuition fees you owe, you can apply for a tuition fees loan from your Local Education Authority (LEA). They will assess how much money they can loan you, based on your family's income. You will not be sent the tuition fees loan however: the money will be paid directly to your University or college by the Student Loans Company.

Once you have graduated from your course and are earning at least £15,000 a year, you will be required to begin repaying the total value of your tuition fees loan. Loans for tuition fees are only available for your first degree; if you decide to return to higher education at a later date you will only be eligible to apply for a maintenance loan.

The 'oversees' rate for fees charged to non-EU students is usually much higher, even up to £18,000 per academic year. The exact amount charged will depend upon the individual university and the course studied. If you are a student who is a resident of a non-EU country you are not entitled to financial support for tuition or maintenance from the Student Loans Company. As a result, international students in need of extra funding will often have to rely on a scholarships, sponsorships or grants in order to study in the UK (see Further Support). The only exceptions to this rule are residents of Switzerland, and students from Turkey whose parents are resident workers in the UK. If you fall into one of these categories, you are granted the same rights in terms of fees and financial support as 'home' students.