Glossary

A to Z of common student finance terms.

Access to Learning Fund: a non-repayable discretionary fund, introduced across the higher education sector in 2004/05. Read more on the Access to Learning Fund page.

Adult Dependants' Grant: help for students who have an adult that is wholly or mainly financially dependent on them whilst studying. An adult dependant is someone who is dependent on the student rather than on the spouse or partner of the student, or on a third party. The person could be the student's spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner, provided the student is over 25.

Bursaries (BSS): non-repayable grants that are available from participating universities and colleges.

Childcare Grant: help with childcare costs for those with dependent children aged under 15 at the beginning of the academic year (or under 17 if they have special educational needs) and in registered or approved childcare.

Department for Education (DfE): the ministerial department responsible for education, children's services, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England, and equalities..

Designated course: Alternative providers of higher education can apply for designation of some or all of their courses. When a course is designated, students attending it will be able to apply for student finance. Processing and analysis of applications for specific-course designation is the responsibility of HEFCE.

Disabled Students' Allowances (DSAs): help with extra costs a student might have as a direct result of their disability, long-term health condition, mental-health condition or specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia.
DSAs are available to full and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students. They do not have to be paid back.

GOV.UK: the online home of government services and information in the UK. Student Finance England's online application can be found at gov.uk/studentfinance.

Higher Education: provided by a variety of universities and colleges to adults over the age of 16. Higher education normally involves courses working towards a degree level qualification, as opposed to further education.

Higher Education Institution (HEI): a college or university that offers higher education courses.

Household income for dependent students: the income of the student's parent(s). Depending on their income, parents may have to contribute towards the living costs of their student children.
If the student's parents are separated or divorced, the income of whichever parent they are financially dependent on will be considered. The income of any relevant partner of this parent will also be considered.
The income of the student's other parent will be ignored.

Detailed information on whose income will be considered can be found in the student guide,

How you are assessed and paid.

Household income for independent students: for independent students who are married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner, the income of their husband, wife or partner will be taken into account.

Income assessed: the amount of finance a student can receive may be dependent on an assessment of the student's household income. Finance that is income assessed includes:

  • An extra amount of Maintenance Loan over the basic rate.
  • Childcare Grant and Parents' Learning Allowance.

Income Contingent Repayment (ICR): 'Income contingent' or 'Income based' repayment refers to the repayment terms applicable to customers who started their courses on or after September 1998.
Repayments are collected through the tax system by HM Revenue & Customs. The amount payable is determined by the customer's income.
There are two types of repayment plan for income contingent loans; the plan that applies depends on where and when the customer first began their studies.

For more on repayment see studentloanrepayment.co.uk.

Maintenance Grant: a grant to help with living costs. This doesn't have to be repaid. How much a student can get depends on their household income. This is not available to students starting courses on or after 1st August 2016.

Maintenance Loan: a loan to help with living costs. How much a student can get depends on their household income and where they're living and studying.
A basic rate ofMaintenance Loan doesn't depend on the student's household income. Eligibility for an extra amount does depend on the student's household income. The Maintenance Loan has to be paid back.

Means-tested: the term carries the same meaning as 'income assessed'. More commonly found in policy documents and rarely used in publications aimed at customers.

Migrant workers: a migrant worker is someone who is not a national of the country they are working in.
In the UK, migrant workers or self-employed persons from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland may also be eligible for financial help with tuition fees. Family members of an EEA or Swiss migrant worker in the UK may also qualify.

Further guidance on how eligibility is determined can be found in the policy information Guidance Chapters.

Non-income assessed: student finance that every eligible student can receive, regardless of their household income.

Non-means tested: the term carries the same meaning as 'non-income assessed'. More commonly found in policy documents and rarely used in publications aimed at customers.

Parents' Learning Allowance (PLA): help with course related costs for students with dependent children. If they qualify, the amount they can get depends on their household income.

Part-time Grants: for continuing part-time undergraduate and postgraduate ITT students who started their course before 1 September 2012. There are two types of grant available - the Fee Grant and the Course Grant; neither has to be paid back.

  • The Fee Grant helps towards the cost of tuition fees charged by the university or college.
  • The Course Grant can help with the cost of books, travel and other course-related expenses.

Part-time Tuition Fee Loan: for new and continuing part-time students who started their course on or after 1 September 2012.
The Tuition Fee Loan covers the cost of the tuition fees charged by the university or college. The loan has to be paid back.

Special Support Grant (SSG): the Special Support Grant replaces the Maintenance Grant for people who, as full-time students, can claim income related benefits. Students can't get both a Maintenance Grant and a Special Support Grant. This is not available to students starting courses on or after 1st August 2016.

Sponsor: refers to any person who provides information about their income in support of a student's application for finance. Commonly this person is the student's parent(s), husband, wife or civil partner.

Student Finance England (SFE): service brand owned by the Student Loans Company in conjunction with BIS; responsible for administering student finance in England.

Student Loans Company (SLC): non-profit making, government owned organisation who provide loans and grants to students in further and higher education within the UK.

Student Support Information Notes (SSINs): detail the arrangements for the administration of Student Finance in England. They are produced by the Department for Education (DfE).

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