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Top terminology you need to understand for your university finances

Article writen by: Beth
18 November 2022

Applying for university is an exciting time – but it can be daunting to figure out how you'll finance your studies. To help you out, we've outlined the top terminology you need to know to get your college finances sorted. 

Leicester Students loan

A student loan is a sum of money you borrow to cover the costs of studying at Leicester university and accommodation. In the UK, your student loan is paid to you by the government-funded body Student Finance. This organization helps all students attend university, regardless of their financial background. The term "student loan" refers to monies you borrow from Student Finance for both tuition fees and living costs.

Student loans are repaid only once you've finished your university course and are earning over a defined threshold which changes with each new tax year. The amount you pay back each month is a percentage of your earnings above this threshold. The loans are written off after a defined period of time, and many people don't end up repaying the full amount that they borrowed. In this respect, you can think of your student loan a bit like a tax you pay for getting a university degree. Interest rates for student loans are typically lower than other loans, and interest is added from the date that the loan is issued.

Tuition loan

Your tuition loan is the proportion of your student loan that applies to Leicester university tuition fees. Anyone who is studying an approved degree at an approved university, and has not previously studied at the same level, is eligible to take out a tuition loan with Student Finance. University tuition fees are capped by the government, currently at £9,250 each year, and you can borrow enough to pay the course fees in full. Student Finance pays your tuition loan directly to your university, so you don't have to worry about this process. 

Accommodation maintenance loan

Your maintenance loan is the proportion of your student loan that applies to the living costs associated with attending Leicester university, such as rent, utility bills, food, socialising, books and study supplies. 

It is partly means-tested, which means your household income is assessed to determine how much you can borrow. For most students, their household income is their parents' earnings since they usually live at home at the time of applying to university and to Student Finance. Everyone is eligible for a limited amount of maintenance loan, but those with a low income or low-earning parents get more. You also get a larger figure if you live away from home while studying, and more still if you live away from home and in London where the cost of living is higher. Student Finance pays your maintenance loan into your bank account in instalments at the start of each term.

Student maintenance grant

Maintenance grants are sums of money awarded by Student Finance that do not have to be paid back. They allow eligible students to reduce the amount of maintenance loan they borrow. Grants are means-tested and eligibility is assessed when you apply to Student Finance for your tuition and maintenance loans. Only students from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are eligible for maintenance grants. Students from England are not eligible.

Special support grant

Special support grants are an alternative to maintenance grants for student accommodation in England. They do not have to be repaid, but you must meet strict eligibility criteria to receive them. For example, single parents, people with disabilities and people aged over 60 are entitled to special support grants. Your eligibility is assessed when you apply to Student Finance, but you'll have to submit evidence of your circumstances. 


Scholarships are competitive awards that you can achieve by excelling in particular skills or talents. They're often financial, but sometimes they're in the form of additional support or supplies. They don’t have to be paid back, but they differ from grants in that they're awarded on merit rather than financial need. Scholarships are usually awarded by universities, but sometimes non-profit organisations also offer them. You access scholarships by applying directly to the awarding institution or organisation before your studies begin.


Bursaries are financial awards that are automatically given to students who meet defined criteria, such as being a carer or having a low income. They do not have to be paid back. They're awarded by universities and non-profit organisations, and you must apply for them directly.

Now you have an overview of some key financial terminology, you can get started with planning your finances for college.