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Grants still play a major part of the student finance picture, especially if you have children, have a disability or other members of your household are dependent on you. Unlike student loans, grants don’t have to be paid back. Most are income assessed, but if you qualify to receive a grant, you can regard it as an entitlement and you should ensure you receive it. It is considered very beneficial for students who would like to start their own business as start-ups require some amount of initial funding’s.

Maintenance Grant

Maintenance Grant

The Maintenance Grant is income-assessed and doesn’t have to be repaid, unlike student loans which students can apply. It’s intended to meet the cost of your living costs during study. The Maintenance Grant is usually paid alongside a Maintenance Loan, and when this is the case, it is counted in the full welfare benefit.

This grant is available to full-time students who are either ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland, of a student who is continuing their studies who is ordinarily resident in England and whose course started prior to September 2016. In Wales, the equivalent grant is the Welsh Assembly Learning grant, and in Scotland the Young Person’s Independent Student’s Bursary is the broad equivalent.

If you’ve studied previously and this results in you not receiving a Tuition Fee Loan, then your entitlement to the Maintenance Grant is similarly affected. You won’t receive any Maintenance Grant payment for a year, which means that you have to ‘self-fund’.
The grant available to you depends on your location, as outlined in the following section.

Maintenance Grant in England

If you are a continuing student who has ordinary residence in England, you can still be considered for a Maintenance Grant of up to £3,387 if your course began before 1 September 2016. The Maintenance Grant is income-assessed and how much you get of the full grant depends upon your income. A maximum rate of Maintenance Grant is payable on household income of £25,000 or less, and a partial grant is payable on household income up to £42,620.

Household Income Amount of Maintenance Grant (Continuing Students only)
£0 - £25,000 £3,387
£25,001 - £42,620 Partial Grant
£42,620 or more No Grant

If you receive a Maintenance Grant, it replaces some of the maximum rate of Maintenance Loan you receive, as shown in the below table for English students whose course began before 1 September 2016 and who are in receipt of the ‘elsewhere rate’ of Maintenance Loan.

Household Income Maintenance Grant Maintenance Loan – Elsewhere rate (Max £5,878) Total Student Financial Support
£25,000 £3,387 £4,185 £7,572
£30,000 £2,441 £4,658 £7,099
£35,000 £1,494 £5,131 £6,625
£40,000 £547 £5,605 £6,152
£42875 £0 £5878 £5878

The system of payment means that if you are a student from a lower income background, you have less of your student finance paid in the form of a repayable loan, and more in the form of a non-repayable grant.

Note: From 1 September 2016, you are no longer eligible to receive a Maintenance grant of you are a new student ordinarily resident in England. Instead, and increased rate of student loan has been introduced.

Maintenance Grant in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Maintenance Grant continues to be available to new students, as well as to continuing students. The Maintenance Grant is paid at a higher rate of £3,475 in Northern Ireland, with the full grant available to you if your household income is £19,203 or less, with a partial grant on household income up to £41,605.

Household Income Amount of Maintenance Grant (Continuing Students only)
£0 - £19,203 £3,475
£19,204 - £41,605 Partial Grant
£41,606 or more No Grant

Special Support Grant

Special Support Grant

The Special Support grant is identical in value to the Maintenance grant but is only payable to students who have an underlying entitlement to welfare benefits during their studies. It is paid to meet the cost of books and materials associated with the course, travel to and from your course or child-related costs. The special support grant is disregarded in full for welfare benefit purposes. The Special Support Grant is income-assessed and doesn’t have to be repaid. No Special Support Grant is available to students ordinarily resident in Scotland.

If you have studied previously and this means you will not receive a Tuition Fee Loan, your entitlement to the Special Support Grant will be similarly affected and you will not receive any Maintenance Grant payment for a year, so you have to ‘self-fund’.

Grant Eligibility

If you are a full-time student ordinarily resident in Wales or Northern Ireland, or if you are a continuing student in England whose course began before 1 September 2016 and you fall into one of the following groups of students, you may qualify for the Special Support grant rather than the Maintenance Grant:

  • You are a lone parent responsible for a child or young person under the age of 20 who is a member of your household, and in full-time non-advanced education.
  • You are a lone foster parent responsible for a child or young person under the age of 20.
  • You have a partner who is also a full-time student and wither or both of you are responsible for a child or young person under the age of 20 in full-time non-advanced education.
  • You have a disability and qualify for a disability premium.
  • You have been treated as incapable of work for a continuous period of at least 28 week (to or more periods of incapacity with a break of no more than eight weeks counts as one continuous period).
  • You are deaf and qualify for a Disabled Students’ Allowance
  • You are aged 60 or over
  • You are entitled to personal Independence Payment, Armed Forces Independent Payment or Disability Living Allowance.

You also qualify for a Special Support Grant if:

As well as being wholly disregarded for benefit purposes, the Special Support grant also allows you the maximum rate of student loan available according to where you live (rather than reducing the amount of Maintenance Loan available to you in the way that Maintenance Grant does).

Note: In England, from 1 September 2016, you are no longer eligible to receive a Special Support Grant if you are a new student ordinarily resident in England with an underlying entitlement to welfare benefits.

Students instead get a higher rate of Maintenance Loan which has been introduced. If you are a continuing student who has ordinary residence in England, you can still be considered for a Special Support Grant of up to £3,387 if your course began before 1 September 2016. The Special Support grant is income-assessed. A maximum rate of Special Support grant is payable on household incomes of £25,000 or less, and a partial grant is payable on household incomes up to £42,620.

Young Student’s and Independant Student’s Bursary Rates
Household Income Young Student’s Bursary Independent Students Bursary
£0 - £16,999 £1,750 £750
£17,000 - £23,999 £1,000 Nil
£24,000 - £33,999 £500 Nil
£34,000 or more Nil Nil

Note: The bursaries are paid alongside your Maintenance Loan entitlement.

Maintenance Grant to Cover Living Expenses

To apply for a Maintenance Grant to cover your living expenses, you will have to support details of your household income and your course start date. Once approved this grant is transferred to your bank account at the start of term. It’s important to note that you don’t have to repay the grant, however any funds you get will diminish the Maintenance Loan you can apply for.

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