If you're heading to university this autumn, you should apply for loans and grants NOW, as the deadline's as early as this Friday for some students.

Students living in England who are starting a full-time university course this September need to submit their applications by 30 May to get up to £9,000 in tuition fee loans, up to £7,288 in maintenance loans and up to £3,387 in maintenance grants by the start of term.

But if you live in Wales, the deadline's much sooner if this is your first application - this Friday, 16 May. If you're a returning student, the deadline's 6 June.

Missing the deadline could mean your money comes late, causing problems paying for living costs, bills and tuition fees.

MoneySavingExpert.com's campaigns manager Wendy Alcock says: "Apply as soon as possible for the grants and funding you're entitled to, as you don't want to be left without money at the start of your course.

"Remember the forms take time to process so any delays in receiving your application could mean delays in obtaining the cash.

"Missing the deadline doesn't mean you won't get the loan at all. But it could mean you've no way to pay for bills, books and booze - not a good way to start the term."

Who should apply and when?

Here are the key points for your application if you live in England:

  • If your new, full-time university course is due to start on or after 1 September 2014, you must submit your application by Friday 30 May.
  • This deadline applies whether you're planning to study in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
  • If you're continuing your university course and are applying for funding again, you must submit your application by Friday 27 June.
  • To do it, register or sign in online at Student Finance England. You can also download the forms to complete and send off for funding.
Here's what happens if you live in Wales:
  • If your new, full-time university course is due to start on or after 1 September 2014, you must submit your application by Friday 16 May.
  • This deadline applies whether you're planning to study in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
  • If you're continuing your university course and are again applying for funding, you must submit your application by Friday 6 June.
  • Register or sign in online at Student Finance Wales. You can also download the forms to complete and send off for funding.

I live in Scotland or Northern Ireland - how do I apply?

If you're in Scotland, you need to apply via the Student Awards Agency Scotland by Monday 30 June, whether you're a prospective student or you've applied before.

If you're in Northern Ireland, the deadline for applications was Friday 4 April. You should have submitted the application via your local Education and Library Board.

Martin Lewis
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What's the difference between tuition fees, maintenance loans and grants?

Tuition fee loans pay for your course. Maintenance loans and grants help with living costs such as accommodation, books and bills. You have to pay back loans but you don’t need to pay back grants.

How much funding is available?

The maximum tuition fee loan is £9,000 for 2014/2015. There are no age restrictions to receive this.

Maximum maintenance loan rates for 2014/2015
Living at parental home Living in London Living elsewhere
£4,027 £7,288 £5,202
You must be under 60 when the course starts to get this loan.

Maintenance grant rates 2014/2015
Income levels for both parents Maintenance grant
Up to £25,000 £3,387
£25,001 - £42,620 Partial grant
£42,621 + No grant
There are no age restrictions to receive this.

What information do I need to apply?

If you're a new student, you'll need to submit the following details:

- Valid UK passport details or original birth certificate with an accompanying birth certificate declaration form.
- Your national insurance number.
- Course and institution details.
- Household income information from the 2012/13 tax year (if your application's based on household income).

If you're returning for another year of studies, generally, you don't need to give any new information unless your application's based on household income.  If this is the case, you need to provide the 2012/2013 tax year's household income information. 

If you're planning a placement or to study abroad, you'll need to add this information in your application. 

What if I don't have information regarding my parents' income?

If you can't supply this information, the Student Loans Company won't be able to decide if you're eligible for a maintenance grant. You'll only be able to get a tuition loan.

What if I don't get the grades or don't get accepted at my chosen university?

If you don't get into your first choice university, you can simply update your application with the name of the one you'll actually be attending. If you decide not to go to university or to defer your course, you'll need to cancel your application. You can call a customer adviser in England on 0300 100 0607. In Wales, call 0300 200 4050.

What if I make the deadline but my application's missing relevant information?

Your application and payments may be delayed. You should aim to get any relevant information as soon as possible.

What happens if I miss the deadline?

You should apply as soon as possible so your application can be processed and you get your money before your course starts. But if you miss the deadline, you can usually apply up to nine months after the start of your course.

If I apply by the deadline, when will I receive the money?

Once the university's confirmed your attendance, you should get your first payment at the start of term. It takes around six weeks to process applications.

I'm planning to study part-time - when's the deadline and what can I apply for?

Prospective part-time students aren't subject to the same deadlines. But you should still apply as soon as you can, to make sure the funding's in place for the start of your course.

If you're continuing your part-time course, the Student Loans Company will contact you later in the year to let you know when you can apply.

You can't apply for the tuition fee loan, the maintenance loan or the grant as these are for full-time students only.

You can apply for a tuition fee grant which depends on your household income and is paid straight to your university or college. You can also apply for a course grant for living costs, which gets paid straight to your account at the start of term.

I started before September 2012, what do I need to do?

If you became a student before 1 September 2012, the rules for applications are the same, but the funding packages are different. See Gov.uk for further information.

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