Your maintenance funding is paid in three instalments for UK full-time undergraduate students – when you start your course, after the Christmas break and after the Easter holidays, although these dates will be different for courses that start in January.

Remember to take this into account when you are working out your budget.

The first instalment of your funding will only be paid when you have fully registered on your course and it's started.

This usually means that you'll receive the first instalment during the first week - Welcome Week - provided your funding is all setup and ready to be paid.

​Receiving a low amount of funding usually means that the government is expecting your parents to make an income contribution. Discuss with your parents when and how you will receive this contribution, for example weekly, monthly or in a lump sum. The amount could also go direct to your institution, landlord or weekly online food shop depending on what's agreed. You can apply to have your student funding entitlement reassessed if your parents' income drops by 15% or more.

A common student finance myth is that you are classed as a mature student if you're over 21 years old. Entitlement to student finance will be assessed based on your parents' income until you are 25 years old and not 21 years old.

Exceptions to this include if:

  • You have a child
  • Your parents are deceased
  • You are in the care of your Local Authority
  • You are irreconcilably estranged from your parents
  • You have been financially supporting yourself for three full years before the start of the course

In addition to the maintenance funding, if you've got dependents you may be entitled to additional grants from Student Finance England or the equivalent if you're from Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

Minimising expenditure

Top tip: don't rush out and buy every book on the course list. Many will be in the University library, some won't be essential and you may be able to get some of them second-hand – shop around for the cheapest or speak to fellow students.

​​​​​Set up online banking so you can keep track of your finances on a daily basis. Double-check the internet line and connection is secure.

Open a student account and get an interest-free overdraft with deals such as cashback and free railcards. Read more on Money Saving Expert for a guide on student bank accounts​, and on Save the Students’ guide to Best Student Bank Accounts. 

Regular monthly payments can be set up on a direct debit. Avoid using credit cards as it can be tempting to spend more than you can afford. If your bank offers you a credit card with your student account then you may wish to take it but only use it for emergencies. Some Buy Now Pay Later Services might seem like an attractive option too, but they are not without their risk. Read more on the risks of buy now pay later on the Blackbullion website.

​You may wish to open a student bank account with an interest-free overdraft. It's important that you check the actual conditions of an overdraft as some may only be interest-free up to a certain level.

Overdrafts for students are on average £500–£1,000 for the first year, increasing to £1,500 to £2,000 in your final year.

Be aware that if you don't manage your account well your bank can refuse to extend your overdraft in subsequent academic years and/or remove your overdraft facility.

Make sure you check online to see if you're eligible for NHS financial assistance as a student, for costs such as glasses and prescriptions.

See the NHS Low Income Scheme website for more information and to download the form.





TOTUM (the new name for the NUS/student card!) is the UK's number one student discount card and it also doubles up as a PASS-accredited proof of age ID card.

Students also get a 12-month International Student Identity Card (ISIC) as part of the TOTUM membership.

Find out more from the NUS website.

You can earn some extra money to help cover your living expenses while at university with a part-time job.

It's important to get the work-life-study balance right though. You'll need a job that's flexible and can fit around your study schedule.

Our Careers and Placements team can help you find a job, write your CV and prepare for interviews.

Most full-time students are not eligible to claim any welfare benefits from the Government.

Full-time students who are lone parents, or who are receiving Personal Independent Payments (and are classed as being unable to work), fall into categories of students who can apply for Universal Credit. Some of your student income (and other income) will count in the assessment.

If you are currently in receipt of any benefits, then it's important that you contact the relevant benefits agency to advise them that you are becoming a student and inform them of your student finance income.​​​

See the information about Council Tax on our Managing your Money page.

More information and advice

Further information and advice on student income and benefits are available from our Money Advice Team by email:​​