From 2009 universities can charge full-time students ‘top-up fees’ of up to £3,225 a year. The fees charged may well vary between courses as well as universities, so it is worthwhile to check with the institution that you have applied to or are going to, the fee amount that they charge.

Also you must remember that this also applies to people undertaking a higher education course at a college rather than a university.

What help is available?

Students are entitled to help with these fees through a specific loan for tuition fees. The loan to cover the tuition fee charged is not income assessed, and students can take out a loan to cover any amount up to the full amount they are charged.

This loan only has to be repaid once the student has completed their studies and is earning over a certain threshold. Currently this threshold is set at £15,000 – or £15,000 profit if you are self-employed. To find out in more detail how the student loan is repaid visit the DirectGov website.

To be eligible for a loan you must have been resident in the UK for at least three years before starting your course. If you have taken another higher education course before, you will need to check with your relevant student finance agency – whose contact details are at the bottom of the page – to see if you are eligible for this type of support.

How do you apply?

The quickest way to apply is online and the application form is available from the DirectGov website. You can also download an application form and submit your application by post. Whether you apply online or by submitting a paper form, this application serves as an application for both loans for tuition fees and loans for living costs (maintenance).

Part-Time Students

Tuition fees for part-time courses are not set and therefore individual institutions set their own fees for part-time courses.

What help is available?

If you are studying part-time you can apply for a fee grant to help with the cost of tuition fees, and also a course grant to help with the costs of books and travel etc. The size of these grants will depend on household income and the intensity of the course – a part-time course taking twice as long as a full-time course has an intensity of 50%.

The structure of tuition fees differs slightly across the different countries of the UK. Most importantly top-up fees do not apply right across the UK, for example they are not charged in Scotland where there are no tuition fees for Scottish students and there is a fixed rate fee for students from the rest of the UK.

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