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How do I apply for higher education funding in England?

By David Malcolm

Thursday 21 March 2013 Higher education

If you’re eligible to get funding for higher education from the government in England, you apply for it online through Student Finance England, which is part of the Student Loans Company. Your local authority no longer has any responsibility for student finance applications.

The following details tell you how to apply for funding from Student Finance England. If you want to apply for an NHS bursary to study medicine, dentistry, healthcare or social work, the application process is different. See:

When should I apply?

You apply each year throughout the length of your course, and for one extra year if you need it to complete the course. You can usually apply from the February prior to the start of the course or new academic year. You can still apply for funding if you haven’t applied for a course or received any offers. Apply no later than 30 May if you want to guarantee that your first instalment of loans and grants is paid at the start of the term. If you apply later than this, it can take six to eight weeks for your application to be processed.

The final deadline for applications is nine months after the first day of the academic year of your course. If you don’t apply by this time you won’t get funding for that year – but you can apply during subsequent years. Student Finance England may extend this deadline if you’re delayed by circumstances beyond your control.

What’s the application process?

The first time you apply, you set up a student finance account. Then, and each year afterwards, you complete an online application form. You may be asked to send evidence (eg proof of your identity or household income). Make sure you send all the requested information by the specified deadlines, so that you receive the first instalment of the support you’re entitled to at the start of the course. Student Finance England assesses what funding (grants and loans) you’re entitled to, and sends you a loan declaration by post. Sign and return it as soon as you can.

Although almost all students have the first instalment of the loan paid straight into their bank or building society account, it’s possible you may be required to collect a cheque. However, all further instalments will be transferred electronically.

For more details, see Student Finance England. They also have some useful frequently asked questions about applications. You can also set up or log in to your student finance account.

Related topics

What higher education funding is available in England?

Can I get higher education funding in the UK?

This information was updated in March 2013. NUS provides this information in good faith and has taken care to make sure it’s accurate. However, student finance issues can be complicated, and rules change frequently. You should contact the advice centre in your students' union, college or university for support if you’re uncertain or need more help.