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Special help

Students from low-income families

There’s lots of government and university money for UK students from low-income families. But what you get will depend on your actual family income and other factors too – eg where you live, where you are studying.

Each of the four UK countries helps students from low-income families in its own way (eg a Maintenance Grant in England and Northern Ireland, Assembly Learning Grant in Wales, or various SAAS Bursaries in Scotland). The amount you get is not standard in the four countries, and neither is the maximum family income where help is available (though you should qualify for the maximum if your household income is less than £18k). Check your country’s student support website to see what money you are eligible for.

As well as government help, most universities help UK students from low-income families – although there may be additional criteria (eg high grades on entry, students from low-income neighbourhoods). Sometimes you need to apply for what’s on offer; increasingly you get it automatically on the basis of your student support assessment (so long as, on your application, you opt to allow the financial information to be shared with your university).

Universities have different schemes and different approaches − even when they are distributing government money, eg the National Scholarship Programme. At some universities you may not qualify for any help, just on the basis of a low family income; at others there is generous help for all students whose family income is up to £40k. You may get more if you are from a designated school, have high entry qualifications, or are on a specified course etc – in some cases this can total up to as much as £10,000 pa. The principal awards are outlined in our university descriptions. And the university search lists allow you to compare what you get, just on the basis of your family income being £18k−£20k without the need to fulfil any other requirements. Scholarships and bursaries are not repayable.

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Students with children or other dependants

UK students with children or other dependants qualify for additional grants and allowances; this is assessed with your main student support application. The names and amounts of this help vary (so the figures given here are approximate). They are all means-tested but do not have to be are repaid.

If you have children, you may qualify for a Parents Learning Allowance of up to approx £1508 pa; and a Childcare Grant of up to 85% of your actual costs to a maximum of approx £150 per week for one child.

If you have an adult dependent, you may be eligible for up to approx £2642.

Students with dependents are some of the few who may be entitled to some benefits (eg child tax credit); find out before you start from your local Jobcentre Plus office.

Many universities also have money to help students with children or other dependants – check the individual university descriptions.

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Students with disabilities

UK students who have a disability that will increase their courses costs should qualify for one or more of the Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA). These are not means-tested and you will be assessed for the DSA along with the rest of your student support application. You need to indicate on the form that you want to apply for a DSA; you will be told how to book a needs assessment to see what support you will need.

Depending on this assessment, you may be given DSAs to help towards general course expenditure (up to approximately £1724 pa), for a personal helper (up to £20.5k pa) and a one-off payment for specialist equipment (of up to £5.2k). There may also be money available from your university or college– check the individual university descriptions.

Most graduates who want to do a further degree course are not eligible for student support; disabled students are exempt from this bar.

You can find more information on www.direct.gov.uk/dsa.

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Health profession and social work courses

There is extra help for UK students on courses in some health professions (eg nursing) and for medical and dental students in their fifth and subsequent years (including graduate entrants for most of their course). These students are entitled to a non-returnable NHS bursary of up to £5460 pa which is means-tested, a reduced-rate student loan that is not means-tested, and their tuition fees will be paid for them.

Students on some social work courses may also be entitled to bursary in addition to the standard student support.

For more information, look on www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/students if your course is in England, www.wales.nhs.uk in Wales, www.saas.gov.uk in Scotland or www.studentfinanceni.co.uk in Northern Ireland.

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