Costs of learning: student funding guide 2019 to 2020

Funding guide for learners and students including those going to college or university.

Full-time students in Higher Education

Studying in Scotland


Most full-time students do not have to pay for the cost of their course if studying for a HNC, HND or first degree or equivalent for the first time. The Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) will pay the tuition fees for eligible students studying at institutions in Scotland. You must still apply to SAAS to get your tuition fees paid even if you are not applying for any other type of support.

Living costs

Student loans

The maximum loan you can get is £6,750 if you are 25 years or older, married, have dependent children or are self-supporting at the start of your course. If you are under 25 years and none of the above applies to you, the maximum loan is £5,750. Irrespective of circumstances, if your household income is over £34,000 a year the maximum loan you can get is £4,750 in all cases.

Young Students' Bursary

If you are under 25 you may qualify for a bursary (a grant assessed on your household income, which you do not have to pay back) of up to £2,000 a year. You may be able to get a bursary whether you live with your parents or live away from home during term time. The bursary will go down to zero for a household income over £34,000 a year. If you have done a course of higher education before, you may not receive this bursary for some or all of your course.

Independent Students' Bursary

An Independent Students' Bursary of up to £1,000 is available for eligible independent students if your household income is £21,000 or less a year. If you have done a course of higher education before you may not receive this bursary for some or all of your course.

The following table shows examples of the support available for 2019-2020.

Young Students (Aged under 25 at start of course) Independent Students (25 or older, married or self-supporting at start of course)
Family income Bursary Loan Total Bursary Loan Total
£0 to £21,000 £2,000 £5,750 £7,750 £1,000 £6,750 £7,750
£21,000 to £23,999 £1,125 £5,750 £6,875 £0 £6,750 £6,750
£24,000 to £33,999 £500 £5,750 £6,250 £0 £6,250 £6,250
£34,000 and above £0 £4,750 £4,750 £0 £4,750 £4,750

These figures combine the bursary and the student loan.

Care Experienced Students' Bursary

From 2017-2018, new and continuing care experienced students undertaking an eligible undergraduate course will be eligible to apply for a non-income assessed Care Experienced Students Bursary. The amount available in 2018-2019 is £8,100.

This new bursary replaces the current income-assessed living cost loan and bursary package. As such, if you apply for and meet the criteria to receive the Care Experienced Bursary, you will not be eligible to apply for a student loan.

You may be eligible to claim the Care Experienced Student Bursary if:

  • You have ever been looked after by a Local Authority in the UK; and
  • You are under 26 on the first day of the first academic year of your course (the relevant date). For most students, who start in the autumn term, the relevant date is 1 August.

You can find more information on Care Experienced Students' Bursary from the SAAS website at

Scottish Government Health Directorate Bursary

Nursing and Midwifery

There are different arrangements for Nursing and Midwifery courses. All eligible students get a bursary. You may also be eligible for a dependant's allowance (based on your income), lone parent and childcare allowances and help towards extra clinical placement costs.

Contact SAAS for more information.

More information on what support is available to Nursing and Midwifery Students can be found at:

Monthly payments

Scottish students studying undergraduate courses at Scottish institutions receive their loans, bursaries and grants every month. This applies to student loans, the Young and Independent Students' Bursary and all other grants except Disabled Students' Allowance and Care-experienced Accommodation Grant.

There will be more details on monthly payments in the award letters SAAS and the Student Loans Company give you. You can also get information at

Studying outside Scotland

Tuition fees

The table below shows the most you would have to pay for 2019-2020.

Where you study in the UK 2019-2020
Wales Up to £9,250
England Up to £9,250
Northern Ireland Up to £9,250

If you are a full-time Scottish student studying in England, Wales or Northern Ireland you:

  • can apply to SAAS for a loan to cover the costs of fees at institutions in the rest of the UK;
  • could get a loan of up to £9,250 a year (this loan is not based on your or your households income); and
  • repay your loan only after you finish your course and start earning over £18,935 a year.

Living costs

If you are a Scottish student studying in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you can claim the same support available to those who study in Scotland. Please refer to the table on page 15 for how much loan and bursary you may be entitled too.

Studying a year of your course abroad

Eligible Scottish university students, who do a year of their course abroad, will receive the same support they would have received had they stayed at their home university - this includes payment of tuition fees. The study abroad can be compulsory, voluntary and part of a European or non-European exchange programme. If your study abroad is compulsory, you can get help with the cost of your air fares and medical insurance. You should contact your home university for more information. Further information on the Erasmus scheme is available from

Portability Pilot

Under the Portability Pilot you may be eligible for support for a course at participating EU universities. Scottish domiciled students studying at eligible European universities can apply for the same bursary and loan support as students attending university in Scotland.

The pilot will run until the end of academic year 2019-20. Students interested in this opportunity should note that the support will not end after academic year 2019-20, as students will be supported for the duration of their undergraduate course.

More information on the pilot can be found at

Studying an entire course abroad

If you are not eligible for support from public funds you may find it helpful to contact The British Council Information Centre and the Cultural Attaché at the British Embassy for advice about possible sources of funding. Their addresses are:

The British Council Information Centre
Bridgewater House
58 Whitworth Street
M1 6BB

Phone 0161 957 7755

The British Embassy
3100, Massachusetts Avenue
Washington DC, 2008

Phone 001 202 588 6500.

The UNESCO publication "Study Abroad", contains information on international scholarships for study outside the UK. Further details can be found on the UNESCO website at

The US/UK Education Commission/The Fulbright Commission also gives general advice on matters relating to study and funding for students studying in the USA. Their address is:

US/UK Fulbright Commission
Th US-UK Fulbright Commission
Unit 302
3rd Floor Camelford House
89 Albert Embankment

Phone: 020 7498 4010

Help for your dependants

The grants and support detailed below are not loans and you do not need to pay them back.

Adult Dependant's Grant

You can claim the Adult Dependant's Grant for your husband, wife, civil partner or partner (it is based on their income). The most you could get is £2,640 a year. If you get married or form a civil partnership or start to live with your partner after your course starts, you can claim the Adult Dependant's Grant for your husband, wife, civil partner or partner from the date of your marriage or civil partnership or when you start living with your partner. You cannot claim the Adult Dependant's Grant if your husband, wife, civil partner or partner also receives student support.

Lone Parent's Grant

If you are a student and have been widowed, divorced, separated or are single and you are bringing up at least one child on your own, who is still dependent on you, you can claim an extra grant of up to £1,305 a year. The amount you receive will be based on the unearned income you have while you study, for example, Working Tax Credits.

You should apply to SAAS for both the Adult Dependant's Grant and Lone Parent's Grant.

Childcare Fund Support

In addition to the above, Scottish Ministers also provide Childcare Funds to Scottish publicly-funded institutions to help lone parents with the costs of registered or formal childcare - formal childcare includes childminders, after school clubs, day care, sitter services and providers of pre-school and education.

Eligible lone parent students with formal registered childcare costs can apply for an entitlement of up to £1,215 from this fund. Further support may also be available, however this fund is administered by institutions and they have responsibility for deciding what payments they give to students.

You should apply directly to your institution for support. Please note, not all eligible students will receive help, as the fund is limited.

Travel costs

The following groups of students may be eligible for some additional help towards some of their travel costs:

  • Those doing an Allied Health Profession degree, a nursing diploma or nursing degree can get help with their placement travel expenses only.
  • Disabled students who cannot use public transport.
  • Students doing a compulsory period of study abroad can claim for reimbursement of their air fares and medical insurance only.

Please contact the Student Awards Agency Scotland on 0300 555 0505 or visit for more information.

Help for disabled students

Disabled Student's Allowance (DSA)

If you have to pay extra costs while you are studying because of your disability, you can apply for a Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) for extra support.

DSA is made up of the following three allowances.

  • The Basic Allowance is an allowance of up £1,725 a year that you may claim towards general costs such as audio tapes, Braille paper, radio aids, medically certified special dietary needs and small items of equipment.
  • Special Equipment Allowance is an allowance of up to £5,160 to help you buy things like major items of equipment (for example, a computer, laptop or a portable loop). The most you can get is set when you make your initial claim and the amount you receive is for the whole of your course, not for each year.
  • Non-Medical Personal Help is an allowance of up to £20,520 a year for non-medical personal help (for example, for a reader if you are blind, or for someone to take notes for you).

You may also be able to get help towards your travel costs if you cannot use public transport and have to pay extra costs as a result of your disability.

Extra help

Discretionary Funds

If you are having particular financial difficulties you can apply for help from your college or university Discretionary Fund. These funds are specifically to help students who have financial difficulties. You don't have to wait until you are on the course to apply for help from this fund. Your college or university is responsible for deciding who can have help from its Discretionary Fund and how much they can have. You must have taken out your full student loan entitlement before you can receive this help.

Care-experienced Accommodation Grant

If you are a 'care leaver' (you left care on or after your 16th birthday), you may be able to get a grant of up to £105 a week. This is to help you pay for certain accommodation costs that you may have during the summer vacation that falls in between each year of your course or programme of study.

Higher Education

For more information on the support that is available for Higher Education contact the Student Awards Agency Scotland on 0300 555 0505 or visit



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