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Students urged to apply for university funding now if they plan to get a place via 'clearing' – don't wait for your A-level results

Prospective university and college students who plan to go through a process known as 'clearing' to get onto a course should not wait for their exam results before applying for student finance. The Student Loans Company (SLC) says people should instead apply as soon as possible. Students who've already been offered a place but have yet to apply for funding should also do so now.

It can take six to eight weeks for the SLC, which manages tuition fee and maintenance loan applications for English and Welsh students, to approve any new applications or changes to existing applications. So it's therefore urging people to apply or make changes as soon as possible – even if they're unsure which course they'll be doing. The alert comes with less than two weeks to go until A-level results day on 10 August.  

Applying now means you can get your funding as close to the start of term as possible, the SLC said, adding that you can update your online application later once you know exactly what course you'll be on and where you might be living. The SLC says the application process only takes around 30 minutes and you can use your first choice of course for now.  

The Scottish Students Awards Agency has also called on those in Scotland who haven't already applied for funding to do so as soon as they can, while Student Finance Northern Ireland is reminding Northern Irish students that they too don't need a confirmed place at university to make an application for funding.

For key student finance need-to-knows, see our Student Loans Mythbusting guide.

How to apply for student finance 

If you think you may be going to university or college this academic year, then it's best to apply as soon as possible – while there's now no guarantee you'll get the full amount you're entitled to before the start of term, the longer you leave it the longer the potential delay.

There's no impact on your credit file from making an application or any upfront fees involved so it doesn't matter if you later change your mind and pull out of the process before your funding is approved.

Here's how to apply, depending on where in the UK you normally live (not where you'll be studying):

  • In England, you can apply via the Student Finance website. The SLC has also produced a new guide for students planning to go through clearing, with extra information including steps you can take to make sure your application can be processed quickly.

  • In Northern Ireland, you can apply and get help via the Student Finance Northern Ireland website.

  • In Scotland, you can apply via the Students Awards Agency website. There's guidance on what you'll need on the website.

  • In Wales, you can also apply via the Student Finance website. Student Finance Wales also has a dedicated guide for students going through clearing. 

If you've already applied for student finance you don't need to do anything unless your course or living situation changes

If you've already applied for student finance, you don't need to do anything unless your university, college or course details change, although it's important to provide any evidence you're asked for as quickly as you can.

However, you do need to let your funding body know if your university, college or course details change as this may impact the level of your tuition fees loan. You also need to update your application if where you'll be living changes as otherwise you might not get the right amount of maintenance loan. founder Martin Lewis recently told ministers it's time to stop hiding the student living loan parental contribution – he said parents should be told they may be expected to pay £1,000s when their kids go to uni.  

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