Money Wellness

Student maintenance loan: how much will you get?

There are two parts to a student loan:

  1. the part that covers your tuition fees
  2. the part that helps pay for your living costs

In this guide, we’ll be looking at the second part – this is known as the maintenance loan.

The information provided applies to students from England only.

We also have a complete guide to the full student loan.

What is a student maintenance loan?

A student maintenance loan is a government loan designed to help cover the living costs associated with being a student.

If you’re a full-time undergraduate student, you’ll be eligible for a maintenance loan, provided you meet some basic criteria.

It will be paid directly into your bank account in three instalments (usually at the beginning of each term) for every year that you’re at university.

Part of the maintenance loan is means tested. For almost every student under the age of 25, the amount you’ll get will be based on your household income. This means the income of the parent(s)/guardian(s) you usually live with. If your parent or guardian lives with a partner, their partner’s income will also be taken into account.

If you’re 25 or older, the amount you’ll get will be based on your co-habiting partner’s income (if you have one).

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What is the maximum amount for a maintenance loan?

The amount you’ll get towards your living costs depends on:

  • your household income
  • where you’ll be living

You’ll get the maximum amount available if your annual household income is £25,000 or less.

In 2023/24, the maximum you’ll get is:

Living situation Maximum loan
Living at home £8,400
Living away from home (not in London) £9,978
Living away from home (in London) £13,022
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What is the minimum amount for a maintenance loan?

In 2023/24, the minimum you’ll get is:

Living situation Maximum loan
Living at home £3,698
Living away from home (not in London) £4,651
Living away from home (in London) £6,485

You’ll get the minimum amount if:

  • you’re living at home and your annual household income is £56,910 or more• You’re living away from home (not in London) and your annual household income is £60,836 or more• You're living away from London and your annual household income is £67,422 or more
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How are student maintenance loans calculated?

If your household income is less than £25,000, you’ll get the maximum maintenance loan.

Your maintenance loan is reduced by £1 for every £7.01 your household income is above £25,000, until 46.6% of the full loan remains.

person on sofa

What if your maintenance loan isn’t enough?

It’s unlikely your maintenance loan will cover all of your living costs.

Some students may be able to get support from their family to make up the shortfall.

If you’re not lucky enough to be in this position, you may need to consider getting a part-time job to see you through.

You may also be able to generate a bit of extra cash from side hustles, such as selling second-hand clothes online, babysitting or tutoring other students.

Most student bank accounts also come with an interest-free overdraft. This can be useful in emergencies but don’t borrow more than you can afford to pay back.

Your university should also have student support services that can point you in the direction of additional funding you may be able to apply for. Make sure you seek help if you’re struggling financially. Burying your head in the sand will only make the situation worse.

And if you ever need debt advice, we’ll always be happy to help. You can get debt advice from us 24/7 online or over the phone during our office hours.

person holding chin deep in thought

What interest do you pay on a maintenance loan?

The amount of interest that will be added to your student loan depends on when you started your course. Also, as inflation is so high at the moment, the government has stepped in and capped student loan interest at 7.3% for now.

It’s also important to remember that the cost of your student loan - for tuition fees, maintenance and interest - is not necessarily the amount you’ll pay back.

How much you end up paying back depends entirely on your earnings after university. Those who earn a lot will repay a lot. Those who don’t benefit too much financially from going to university will pay a lot less, maybe nothing.

For courses starting from 2012 to 2022, you’ll only start repaying your loan when you’re earning above £27,295 a year.

For courses starting from September 2023, you’ll start repaying your loan when you’re earning above £25,000.

Rather than thinking of your student loan as a loan, you may find it helpful to think of it as a graduate tax. This tax only kicks in once your earnings reach a certain level.

Having said that, the interest charged on your student loans will usually be as follows:

If you started from 2012 to 2022

During your course: your loan will gather interest at the rate of inflation - measured by the Retail Price Index (RPI) - plus 3%.

After your course, earning less than £27,295 a year (2023/24): from the first April after you graduate, your loan will usually gather interest at the rate of inflation.

After your course, earning £27,295 - £49,130 a year (2023/24): for every extra £1,000 you earn, you’re charged 0.15% more in interest up to a maximum of 3%.

After your course, earning over £49,10 a year (2023/24): your loan will usually gather interest at the rate of inflation plus 3%.

If you started from September 2023

Usually, the interest rate on your loan will be set at the rate of inflation (measured by the RPI). At the moment, though, there is a 7.3% cap on student loan interest as inflation is so high.

woman saving money in piggy bank

How to apply for a student maintenance loan

You apply for your maintenance loan and the loan for your tuition fees together. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to apply on the government website.

You’ll need to make a separate application for each year of your course, not just the first one.

It can take six weeks to process loan applications, so it’s a good idea to apply early. You can always change or cancel your application if your plans change.

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