Student finance explained for parents

A parent’s guide to tuition fees, maintenance loans and financial support

Exploring university is an exciting time for you and your child, or someone you’re supporting. But a common question is ‘How much does university cost parents?’

Usually, your child’s tuition fee (the cost of their course) is covered by a loan that only has to be repaid once they’re earning enough. And they’ll also be able to apply for a maintenance loan (to cover living costs) with an amount based on your household income.

Your child could also apply for grants and bursaries, and there’s extra help if they have children or adult dependents, a disability, health condition, or a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia.

We also offer a number of scholarships, so it’s worth checking if your child is eligible to apply.

In this student finance guide for parents, we’ll explore the two main expenses—tuition fees and living costs—and how to apply for student finance to help cover the cost of your child going to uni

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Tuition Fee Loan

A tuition fee is what the university charges to teach your child’s chosen course. Your child can apply for a Tuition Fee Loan to cover the full cost. Typically, you won’t have to pay anything upfront.

The maximum loan amount is £9,250 per year, and it's available to all eligible students, irrespective of their household income. 

Importantly, this loan doesn't need to be repaid until your child has completed or left their course and their income surpasses the repayment threshold. For most students applying to start studying this year, they’ll only start repaying their tuition fee loan when their income is over £480 a week, or £2,083 a month.

The amount they’ll repay depends on their income – which is calculated at 9% of any income over the threshold.

Maintenance Loan

Portsmouth is one of the most affordable cities in the UK for students (2023, University Living), but it’s still important to consider how your child will pay for things like accommodation, food, study supplies, and a social life.

Alongside a Tuition Fee Loan, all students can apply for a Maintenance Loan to help cover the cost of living and studying, whether away from home or living with you.

How much your child will get is based on a number of factors - most notably, your household income and whether your child will be living at home while they’re studying.

Household income

Living away from home (outside of London)

Living with parents



















*Information provided by Student finance: how you're assessed and paid 2024 to 2025 - GOV.UK (

There is student finance help for parents with specific circumstances, if your child has a disability, long-term health condition, mental health condition, or responsibilities for children or adult dependents.

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How to Apply:

The application process for student finance is relatively straightforward and can be done online. Importantly, your child does not need a confirmed place at university or college to apply. 

It’s a good idea to apply early to ensure everything is in place before the course commences. 

The deadline for applications is typically in May, but early submissions help ensure there are no delays.

If they’re from England, your child will apply for their student loan on the Student Finance England website.

If they’re from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, they’ll apply through their home government:

For all the information on how to apply – and when to apply by – take a look at our Student Loans Guide

TOP TIP: Take the time to look into the application process in advance. While it’s straightforward, there are a few steps to follow, accounts to sign up for, and information to gather. Knowing what you need in advance will help you prepare to support your child’s student finance application when the time comes.

What information do parents need to provide for student finance?

When your child is applying for student finance, you might be asked about your household income. This is used to work out if they can get extra money on top of the Tuition Fee Loan and basic rate Maintenance Loan.

If you don’t, they’ll only get the minimum amount they’re entitled to - so it’s worth doing.

You’ll be asked for your National Insurance number. This will be used by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to get information about your income.

You’ll also need to say if you have paid into any private pensions, made voluntary contributions or have any other child dependants.

If you don’t have a National Insurance number, you’ll be able to complete a form and provide evidence to show how much you earned.

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