Government loans are a very common way of funding your studies for UK and eligible EU students.
Repayment rules mean you only start paying the loan back when your earnings are above a certain threshold. When you get a job after graduating, payments are automatically taken from your salary, in a similar way to tax. How much is deducted depends on the amount you earn, and after 30 years, any outstanding balance will be cleared if you haven’t managed to pay the loan in full.
EU Students starting a course on or after 1 August 2021 must have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to get student finance.
BMus UK and eligible EU students can get tuition fee loans to cover tuition costs. Fee loans are funded by the UK government and are administered through the Student Loans Company.
UK-resident students can also apply for maintenance awards to assist with living costs. The UK Government's Student Finance pages have details of the application process.
We also have compiled a BMus UK Finance Guide, which we hope will be helpful for you.
Your eligibility may be affected if you have already studied on a Bachelor’s degree (in any discipline).
How to apply
You need to make a new application for every year of your course. Apply early – we recommend no later than the Easter holiday before the start of the next academic year.
UK/EU students must apply to the following regional funding agencies, depending on where you are from:
- England: Student Finance England (SFE) – www.gov.uk/student-finance
- Northern Ireland: Student Finance NI – www.studentfinanceni.co.uk
- Scotland: Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) – www.saas.gov.uk
- Wales: Student Finance Wales (SFW) – www.studentfinancewales.co.uk
- EU: Student Finance EU – www.gov.uk/apply-for-student-finance.
Advice for EU undergraduate loan applications
If you’re an EU student applying for a course starting on or after 1 August 2021, how you apply depends on the type of support you want. If you’re eligible for tuition fee support and help with living costs, you can apply online now by following the steps above.
If you are eligible for a tuition fee loan only, please download print and complete the application on paper, then return it as instructed on the form.
Please remember to complete and send the Certifier Checklist. The Checklist must be signed, dated and stamped by the person verifying the copy of your passport or national identity card. The photocopy must also be signed, dated and stamped by that person.
EU students do not need a National Insurance (NI) number for the tuition fee loan application: you can leave this blank if you don’t have one.
However, if you already have an NI number, you should include it in the application form. Or if you get a job in the UK and are allocated an NI number, contact the Student Finance Company's European Team call centre on +44 (0)141 243 3570 to tell them the details. You will need an NI number before the first loan payment is made.
The UK Government provides direct financial support to help UK and eligible EU students fund postgraduate study. Details are available on www.gov.uk/funding-for-postgraduate-study.
You apply online for these loans, and the government has provided the following information about the Student Finance England loan:
- Loans are available for EU students who have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. You will also need to have lived in the UK, Gibraltar, EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein for 3 years before your course start date (this is also known as being ‘ordinarily resident’).
- Master’s degree students: if your Academy programme for the 2021/22 academic year starts on or after 1 August 2021, you will be able to borrow up to a maximum of £11,570 for your whole course in total, as a contribution to tuition fees and/or living costs. The loan amount for courses starting on or after 1 August 2022 has not yet been published.
- Doctoral students (normally resident in England) starting a programme on or after 1 August 2021 can borrow up to £27,268 for the whole programme, divided into equal amounts for each year. The loan amount for courses starting on or after 1 August 2022 has not yet been published.
- Payments will be made direct to students in termly instalments by the Student Loans Company (SLC).
How much can I borrow?
UK and eligible EU undergraduate students, irrespective of household income, can borrow the full cost of their tuition fees for their first Bachelor degree course if they so wish.
Additionally, UK students can take out loans for living costs. The size of these loans will vary according to household income and may include a non-repayable grant towards living costs.
Maximum loan amounts for postgraduates (Master's and Research) are fixed by the UK Government and are not aligned to tuition fee rates.
How will I pay the loan back?
If you take a loan, the repayments for graduates in the UK will be 9% on any earnings above the threshold. The threshold is currently £2,274 per month (before tax), that is £27,295 per year.
You will pay back the same amount each month after graduating, whatever the total loan amount, but repayment will take longer the more you borrow. Interest will be charged on the amount you borrow.
Repayments stop after either (i) you have repaid the amount in full, or (ii) 30 years from when you start repaying, whichever comes soonest.
Do I have to borrow the full cost of the fees?
No, you only need to borrow what you require, and only if you want to.
How much interest will I have to pay on top of my loans?
For the most up-to-date interest rates, please see the government information about repaying your student loan.
If I borrow money for fees and/or living expenses, can I pay the money back more quickly later on if my circumstances change?
You can make voluntary repayments at any time.
So, is this really a form of taxation rather than a loan?
It resembles a tax because you will make repayments through the income tax system based on earnings. However, the main benefit is that if your earnings remain low throughout the repayment period, you will probably pay back very little, or – in a minority of cases – nothing at all.
Are you saying that after 30 years, if the debt hasn’t been fully paid back, then I will make no more payments?
Yes – and it’s likely that many students will find themselves in that happy position.
How does all this affect me if I am from the EU?
You will be entitled to a tuition fee loan if your course started before 2021, but no support for living expenses unless you have lived in the UK for five years. If you do not expect to pay UK tax after graduating, you will have to fill in an income assessment form, details of which are available on the government website.
Where can I find more information about student finance?
The government website has a comprehensive student finance section, where you will find details of everything you need to know.
Are there other useful websites I could look at to help me understand this?
There are several. We recommend Money Saving Expert, as it gives very concise information on a range of financial issues. Additionally, the economist Martin Lewis (of Money Saving Expert) can be seen on YouTube talking about student borrowing.