How do I afford higher education?

Learning about money and finances may not seem like the most exciting thing in the world, but it is super important – especially when you start thinking about your future. There’s loads of financial terminology that you may not be familiar with yet but will need to know in the coming years. You’ll also hear lots of things regarding what we call ‘student finance’. This relates to the money you get when you are a student in HE.

Head to our jargon buster to find all of the financial terms that you need to know!


Student Finance Facts

Now you’re familiar with all of the language surrounding student finance, let’s get into some of the main facts that you need to know.

There are two aspects of HE study that you need to pay for:

  1. Tuition fees – which can be paid for using a tuition fee loan
  2. Living costs – which can be supported by a maintenance costs loan

So how do this loans system work? Let’s ask some important questions to help us find out.

What’s the current maximum tuition fee for a home student (2021/22 academic year)?

  • £9250

Do you need to pay this money upfront?

  • No! All home students are entitled to a loan to cover the full cost of tuition fees.

Do I have to pay the tuition fees directly to the University?

  • No, the money for tuition fees is paid directly to the university by the Student Loans Company who were created just for supporting students with the cost of higher education.

How do maintenance loans work?

  • Maintenance loans are intended to cover your living costs whilst you study. This includes things such as your rent, groceries, travel etc. The amount of money you get is based on your household income (what you parents or carers earn) and this loan is paid to you directly in 3 instalments over the academic year.

Will I have to repay these loans?

  • Yes, but only when you finish your higher education and earn over £27,295. Even then, it is paid back in very small, manageable chunks! Below is a table that shows how much you need to pay back every month based upon how much you are earning each year in your job (based upon the 2020/21 student finance system).


Income each year before tax

Monthly salary before tax

Monthly repayment 

Up to £27,295
















Want to know more about how student finance works in England? Check out this ‘Student Finance Explained’ film by Student Finance England to learn more about financial help available while at university or college.

There are loads of great resources out there to help you understand student finance in more detail. Why not head to some of these links and explore student finance more?

So, now that you’ve learned a bit about how student finance works, why not learn more about how to get into HE? 

How do I get into HE?

Let’s explore how you get into higher education.

Read more

Why Study?

Why not check out our Why Study? page to find out what our students really think about their courses and about student life.

Visit the University of Manchester's Why Study? page!