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Chapter 15: Student support
This chapter outlines the support available for people studying in Scotland who are eligible for student support under the Scottish system. It lists the type of support available, but does not describe the rules for qualifying for that support in any detail – eg, residence rules. For where to find information on claiming student support and how much you might get, see Appendix 2. See Chapter 16 for how student support affects universal credit, Chapter 17 for how it affects means-tested benefits, Chapter 18 for how it affects tax credits and Chapter 19 for how it affects health benefits.
See askcpag.org.uk/content/201970/coronavirus-and-universal-credit-for-students-in-scotland for links to information about student support during the coronavirus restrictions.
Basic facts
    Most full-time undergraduate students are eligible for a student loan, and may also get a bursary and living costs grant.
    Full-time students in non-advanced education may be eligible for a bursary maintenance allowance, and grants for travel and study costs.
    Part-time students may get help with fees and other limited support.
    Care-experienced students (students who have been in local authority care) may get a care-experienced students’ bursary in further education or higher education.
1. Full-time higher education
This section is for full-time undergraduates (including allied healthcare students) and full-time students on Higher National Certificate (HNC)/Higher National Diploma (HND) courses. It is also relevant for full-time students on Professional Graduate Diploma in Education courses. Funding is different for other full-time postgraduates (see here) and for paramedic, nursing and midwifery students (see here).
Student support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) is made up of:1Loans The Education (Student Loans) (Scotland) Regulations 2007 No.154
Grants The Students’ Allowances (Scotland) Regulations 2007 No.153
See also Student Awards Agency Scotland, Guide to Undergraduate Funding at saas.gov.uk/guides/guide-to-undergraduate-funding
    tuition fees;
    student loan;
    care-experienced students’ bursary;
    young students’ bursary;
    independent students’ bursary;
    dependants’ grant;
    lone parents’ grant;
    care-experienced accommodation grant;
    disabled students’ allowance.
In addition, your college or university administers a:
    higher education discretionary fund;
    childcare fund, including lone parents’ childcare grant.
Travel expenses are no longer available, except for students doing a compulsory year abroad, for a placement on an allied health professions or nursing course, and for disabled students who cannot use public transport.
 
1     Loans The Education (Student Loans) (Scotland) Regulations 2007 No.154
Grants The Students’ Allowances (Scotland) Regulations 2007 No.153
See also Student Awards Agency Scotland, Guide to Undergraduate Funding at saas.gov.uk/guides/guide-to-undergraduate-funding
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Previous study
You cannot usually get your tuition fees paid if you have previously been on a full-time HE course and had help from public funds. You may, however, get one year’s additional funding if you need this – eg, to change courses or repeat a period of study. This is known as a ‘plus one’ year.
Contact SAAS to check your entitlement. Even if you are not entitled to help with your tuition fees, you can normally apply for a student loan and living costs grants.
Tuition fees
Tuition fees are paid directly to your college or university. Your income is not assessed and the amounts are not repayable. If your fees are higher than the amounts payable, you must pay the difference.
 
Tuition fees 2021/22
HNC/HND or equivalent
£1,285
Degree or equivalent
£1,820
Student loan
Student loans are low-interest loans for students, only repayable when you have graduated and are earning over £25,000 a year. You repay the loan at a rate of 9 per cent of your income which exceeds £25,000. Student loans are partly based on your income. You must provide a national insurance number in order to get a loan. If you do not have one, you can apply to the Department for Work and Pensions.1The Social Security (National Insurance Numbers) Amendment Regulations 2006 No.2897
 
Maximum student loan 2021/22
Family income
Dependent student under 25
Independent student under 25, or student aged 25 or over
Below £24,000
£5,750
£6,750
£24,000 to £33,999
£5,750
£6,250
£34,000 or over
£4,750
£4,750
 
1     The Social Security (National Insurance Numbers) Amendment Regulations 2006 No.2897 »
Care-experienced students’ bursary
Students who have previously been looked after by a local authority in the UK are eligible for a care-experienced students’ bursary.1saas.gov.uk/full-time/support-for-care-experienced-students This is a non-income-assessed grant of £8,100 in 2021/22, and is paid instead of the student loan/bursary package. Prior to the 2021/22 academic year, students had to be under 26 at the start of their course to qualify.
Young students’ bursary
You are eligible for a young students’ bursary if you are under 25 on the first day of the first academic year of your course (for an autumn start course, this is 1 August) and from a family with an income of less than £34,000 a year. The amount of the bursary depends on your and your family’s income. In 2021/22, a maximum of £2,000 is paid if your and your family’s combined income is under £21,000 a year. It is paid on top of the maximum loan of £5,750.
Independent students’ bursary
The independent students’ bursary is paid in addition to the maximum loan of £6,750. Students classed as independent are eligible for £1,000 if their household income is below £21,000 a year.
Dependants’ grant
A dependants’ grant is an income-assessed, non-repayable grant that you can claim for a spouse, civil partner, partner, or adult dependant who you care for. The maximum amount in 2021/22 is £2,640. The maximum amount is paid if the adult dependant’s income is under £1,160 per year.
Lone parents’ grant
If you are a lone parent, you can get a lone parents’ grant, worth £1,305 in 2021/22 if you have at least one dependent child. Your income is assessed and the grant is not repayable.
Care-experienced accommodation grant
If you were in local authority care (sometimes referred to as being ‘looked after’ by a local authority), you may get a grant of up to £105 (2021/22) a week to help with your accommodation costs during the long vacation. Your income is not assessed and the grant is not repayable. You normally get a one-off payment in advance.
Disabled students’ allowance
If you have a disability or learning difficulty, you can claim for extra expenses that arise because you are on the course. Your income is not assessed and the allowance is not repayable. You can also apply for travel costs if you cannot use public transport because of your disability.
Disabled students’ allowance 2021/22
Non-medical personal help
£20,520
Other qualifying costs
£1,725
Specialist equipment (amount per course)
£5,160
Childcare fund
The discretionary childcare fund helps with the cost of registered or formal childcare. It is administered by colleges and universities. They decide who is eligible and how much you can get. However, if you are an eligible lone parent student, you can get a lone parents’ childcare grant from this fund to help with the cost of registered or formal childcare costs. Depending on the costs of childcare, the maximum amount is £1,215 in 2021/22 . Your income is not assessed and the grant is not repayable. It is administered by colleges and universities.
Higher education discretionary fund
Colleges and universities administer discretionary funds to help with living costs, and decide how much the payments will be. You are expected to apply for a full student loan before asking for help. The maximum available is £4,000 in 2021/22 .
2. Full-time further education
The Scottish Funding Council gives money to colleges to provide support for further education (FE) students. Colleges must follow national guidelines in allocating their funds.
The following allowances are available to students attending college on a full-time course:1Scottish Funding Council, National Policy for Further Education Bursaries: 2021-22, June 2021; Scottish Funding Council, Education Maintenance Allowance AY 2020-21, October 2020
    education maintenance allowance;
    bursary maintenance allowance;
    care-experienced bursary maintenance allowance;
    dependants’ allowance;
    additional support needs for learning allowance;
    study expenses allowance;
    travel expenses allowance.
In addition, the following funds are available:2Scottish Funding Council, 2021-22 National Policy: FE discretionary fund, June 2021; Scottish Funding Council, 2021-22 National Policy: childcare funds for college students, June 2021
    FE discretionary fund;
    childcare fund, including lone parents’ childcare grant.
 
1     Scottish Funding Council, National Policy for Further Education Bursaries: 2021-22, June 2021; Scottish Funding Council, Education Maintenance Allowance AY 2020-21, October 2020 »
2     Scottish Funding Council, 2021-22 National Policy: FE discretionary fund, June 2021; Scottish Funding Council, 2021-22 National Policy: childcare funds for college students, June 2021 »
Education maintenance allowance
An education maintenance allowance is a means-tested weekly allowance for 16–19 year olds, paid fortnightly in arrears during term time but not during breaks.
You can claim from the autumn term if your 16th birthday falls between 1 March 2021 and 30 September 2021. You can claim from the winter term if your 16th birthday falls between 1 October 2021 and 28 February 2022. If you had an allowance previously, you can claim again if you are continuing in further education for up to three years (four years if you are regarded as ‘vulnerable’). If you can get an education maintenance allowance, you cannot get a bursary maintenance allowance as well, unless you live away from your parents’ home (see here).
If you are 18 or 19 years old, you should be assessed for a bursary maintenance allowance, and will only be considered for an education maintenance allowance if this is better for your household overall, or you do not qualify for a bursary.
You get an education maintenance allowance of £30 a week if your household income is £24,421 or less (£26,884 if your parents have another child under 16, or under 25 in education).
Bursary maintenance allowance
The bursary maintenance allowance is an income-assessed allowance and is discretionary. It is not repayable.
Maximum weekly maintenance allowance 2021/22
 
Parental home
Elsewhere
Receiving education maintenance allowance
£43.15
Receiving universal credit (UC)
£28.00
£28.00
18 to 24
£85.90
£108.55
25 or over
£108.55
£108.55
Students entitled to an education maintenance allowance and living away from home, or whose parental home is not within reasonable travelling distance of the college, may be able to get an allowance of £43.15 a week. Other students getting an education maintenance allowance are not eligible for a bursary maintenance allowance.
Students aged 18 to 24 who are self-supporting, or whose parental home is not within reasonable travelling distance of the college, may be able to get a weekly allowance of £108.55. Otherwise, they may be able to get £85.90.
The bursary is different if you have been in local authority care (see here).
A student who gets UC may be eligible for a weekly bursary of £28.
You may be able to get a bursary to pay up to £121.15 a week rent for college accommodation or college-approved lodgings. Instead of the standard maintenance allowance, you get a personal allowance of £31.73 a week. If you get an education maintenance allowance, you can also get your college accommodation rent paid in this way but do not get the extra personal allowance in addition to this.
Care-experienced bursary maintenance allowance
A care-experienced bursary maintenance allowance is an award of bursary maintenance allowance paid to a student who has been in local authority care (‘looked after’). It is £202.50 a week from age 16 onwards. To qualify before the 2020/21 academic year, you had to be younger than 26 years old on the first day of the academic year in which your course started (usually 1 August).
Dependants’ allowance
You can claim an allowance of £58.41 a week for a dependent adult for whom you have care, or financial or legal responsibilities, and whose weekly income is less than £58.41.
Additional support needs for learning allowance
You may be able to get support towards study and travel expenses if you have extra expenses because of a disability. The amounts are at the discretion of the college. You can get this allowance in addition to an education maintenance allowance.
Study expenses allowance
The income-assessed study expenses allowance is for essential items such as textbooks and special clothing. You can get this allowance in addition to an education maintenance allowance.
Travel expenses allowance
You can claim expenses if you have to travel more than two miles (it may be further for some colleges) from your term-time address. You may be able to get travel to college, to a childcare provider, to a mandatory placement and up to eight single journeys between your permanent home and your term-time address. The allowance is income assessed. You can get this allowance in addition to an education maintenance allowance.
Further education discretionary fund
The maximum available from the FE discretionary fund in 2021/22 is £4,000.
Childcare fund
Your college decides how much you can get from the childcare fund. However, if you are an eligible lone parent student, you can get a lone parents’ childcare grant from this fund to help with the cost of registered or formal childcare costs. Depending on the costs of childcare, the maximum amount is £1,215 in 2021/22. Your income is not assessed and the grant is not repayable.
Higher education courses
Part-time students with annual earnings of £25,000 or less can apply for a part-time fee grant. Your course must be between levels seven and 10 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework and be between 30 and 119 credits a year.
You can also claim a disabled students’ allowance (see here). There is a discretionary fund for part-time students to which you can apply if you are in hardship.
Further education courses
If you are a further education (FE) student studying part time, you can claim some of the same support as full-time students. You can claim:
    support from the childcare fund;
    support from the FE discretionary fund;
    additional support needs for learning allowance;
    study expenses allowance;
    travel expenses allowance.
Your college may be able to waive your fees if you get certain benefits or have a low income. The education maintenance allowance of £30 per week is available to part-time students as well as full-time students.1Scottish Funding Council, Education Maintenance Allowance AY 2020-21, October 2020
 
1     Scottish Funding Council, Education Maintenance Allowance AY 2020-21, October 2020 »
4. Postgraduates
The Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) provides support for taught or research-based postgraduate courses at diploma or masters level. The funding is also available for taught or research-based distance-learning postgraduate courses. Awards from SAAS consist of:1Student Awards Agency Scotland, Postgraduate Funding at saas.gov.uk/full-time/postgraduate-funding-information
    a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500;
    a living-cost loan of up to £4,500 (full-time courses only);
    disabled students’ allowance.
Part-time postgraduate students can apply for the tuition fee loan of £5,500.
All postgraduate students can also apply to the postgraduate discretionary fund and childcare fund.
Research councils also give awards for postgraduate courses and each have their own rules for how grants are awarded. Typically, an award may consist of tuition fees, a maintenance grant, dependants’ grant, disabled students’ allowance and a research support grant.
Social work students can apply to the Scottish Social Services Council for a postgraduate bursary made up of an income-assessed grant, supplementary grants, travel costs for placements and tuition fees.
Professional Graduate Diploma in Education students are eligible for the same support as undergraduates (see here).
Self-funding full- and part-time postgraduates can get a disabled students’ allowance from SAAS.
 
1     Student Awards Agency Scotland, Postgraduate Funding at saas.gov.uk/full-time/postgraduate-funding-information »
5. Paramedic, nursing and midwifery students
Paramedic, nursing and midwifery students may be able to get a bursary and grants for living costs.1Student Awards Agency Scotland, Funding for nursing and midwifery students at saas.gov.uk/full-time/funding-paramedic-nursing-midwifery Application forms are available from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (see Appendix 2).
A discretionary fund is also available.
 
1     Student Awards Agency Scotland, Funding for nursing and midwifery students at saas.gov.uk/full-time/funding-paramedic-nursing-midwifery »
Bursary
If you are a paramedic, nursing or midwifery diploma or degree student, you can get a non-means-tested paramedic, nursing and midwifery bursary of £10,000. In the first year, an extra £60 initial expenses allowance is paid. For nursing and midwifery students, in the fourth year, the bursary is reduced to 75 per cent. Paramedic students get £10,000 for each of the three years of their course.
Grants for living costs
The following grants are available for your living costs:
    means-tested dependants’ allowance for a spouse, civil partner, partner, adult you have legal responsibility for who has a low income, or dependent child(ren). The allowance is £3,640 for an adult or first child, and £577 for each subsequent child (including a first child if the £3,640 is paid for an adult). Note: support for children is still included in these bursaries, even though it has been abolished for other undergraduates;
    single parent’s allowance of £2,303 if you are single, widowed, divorced or separated and bringing up children on your own;
    childcare allowance of up to £2,466 if you pay for registered or formal childcare;
    disabled students’ allowance (see here);
    travel expenses and ‘reasonable accommodation costs’ for placements.
Sponsorship and scholarships
Some companies and government departments sponsor students on their courses.
Educational trusts and endowments
Some charitable trusts provide funds, usually small amounts, to students. For example, Family Action has an educational grants programme (family-action.org.uk/what-we-do/grants/educational-grants). The Student Awards Agency Scotland has a register of education endowments at saas.gov.uk/forms, which lists Scottish trusts that may be able to help. Lead Scotland also has a list of trusts that provide educational grants at lead.org.uk/charitable-trusts-providing-educational-grants-for-individuals. Otherwise, check your local library for information.
SDS Individual Training Accounts
You can get £200 a year towards course fees from an approved learning provider. You can only do one course a year, which must be to help you get a job or progress in your career. See Appendix 2 for contact details.

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