Financial support for students

This page looks at loans and grants available to students, including student loans, bursaries and sponsorship.

Student loans

If you live in Scotland, you should apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans and grants for fees. You can now apply online at the SAAS website.

You can get extra loan payments if you have to study on your course for more than 30 weeks and three days.

All eligible students receive a proportion of the maximum loan, regardless of any other income they have. The amount of the loan you can get depends on your income and that of your family, as well as when you started your course and where you are studying. If you are a final year student, your loan will be reduced. Visit the SAAS website or contact SAAS on 0300 555 0505 to find out more details.

Not all courses are supported by the SAAS, including non-vocational postgraduate courses. More information is available on the SAAS website.

Help with tuition fees

If you are an eligible Scottish student studying at a Scottish institution, you are entitled to free tuition fees, which should cover the cost at most institutions. The amount you receive will depend on your course and when you started your studies.

If you have to pay your own fees (for example, because you have already been on an HNC, HND or degree course for which you received free fees) you'll only need to pay the standard rate. You can apply to the SAAS for the difference between the standard rate and the higher rate.

If you are a Scottish student studying at a UK institution outside Scotland, you may have to pay higher fees, depending on where you study. However, you will be able to apply to the SAAS for a loan to cover this, so you can put off paying the fees until you've finished your course. Make sure you know what the tuition fees will be before you accept a place, and visit the SAAS website to find out more.

Young students' bursary

You may be able to get a young students' bursary if:

  • you are under 25 years old, and

  • you are Scottish, and

  • you are studying at a Scottish institution, and

  • you come from a low income family.

The bursary can be up to £1,750 depending on your family's income, and doesn't have to be repaid. If you get a bursary, it will affect the amount of student loan you can take out, but will also reduce the amount of debt you have when you finish studying.

These bursaries are awarded by the SAAS. More details can also be found on the SAAS website

Other grants and allowances

Additional grants and tax credits are available for mature students, students with children, care leavers and disabled students. Students on certain courses, such as medicine or social work, can also receive extra support.

More details can also be found on the SAAS website and Disability Rights UK.

Education maintenance allowance

Education maintenance allowances (EMAs) are a means-tested payment. If you are aged 16-19 and come from a low income family, you may be entitled to a weekly allowance of up to £30, to help with the costs of living and studying full-time at school or college.

For more information, visit the EMA website.

Career development loans

A career development loan (CDL) is a deferred repayment bank loan you can take out to help fund vocational learning. You can use a CDL to fund any full-time, part-time or distance learning course that will give you the skills required for an occupation, trade or profession.

You can find out more about CDLs at

Support for disabled students

Extra support is available for disabled students. More details can also be found on the SAAS website and Disability Rights UK.

Access and hardship funds

These funds provide extra support for students who need help with the costs of living, and can be used to pay for course-related costs, for example books or travel to college, or general living costs, such as rent. They are administered by your university or college, and how they are distributed will depend on your particular institution. However, priority usually goes to students with children, especially lone parents, students from low income families, students who have been in care or are homeless and disabled students.

Contact your student services or student union to find out more.

Bursaries, scholarships and grants

Most universities offer scholarships or bursaries for certain courses. There is also the possibility of receiving a grant from a charitable trust fund. Conditions vary from trust to trust and may depend on:

  • where you live or were born

  • the school you went to

  • what you're going to be studying and where.

Search the database of the Hotcourses website to find bursaries or trust funds relevant to you.

Find out more

The Student Money section of Hotcourses includes a useful budget planner that helps you estimate the costs of living and studying, a wage predictor that shows you what you could earn depending on your chosen career and a calculator to help you work out your loan repayments, as well as general information on fees, grants, debts and other financial issues.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 23 August 2019

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