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Free Mature Student Guide

Student Finance 2016 - how it works

The radical overhaul to English student finance in 2012 caused myths, panic and confusion. If you’re over 25, or younger but independent from your parents, 2012+ student loans work slightly differently than for typical school leavers going to university. This new free mature students' guide is here to give you the facts.

The guide is provided by and Universities UK and is crucial reading for anyone considering going to uni in 2016.

Get Martin's free printed guide

Teachers / Parents / Universities feel free to print and distribute this guide.

For more info on the changes, see the full guide: Student Loans

Also see: Student Checklist | Student Accounts | Repay My Student Loan? 

Watch or listen to the audio and video guides

Click the button to see each of the video and audio guides...

Student Finance 2012 Video Guide

Martin lewis student finance
Embedded YouTube Video

Filmed in front of parents and potential students at UCL, Jun 2011.
Created by the Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information, see
Feel free to pass to others and embed the video on your own site (sorry about the poor sound for the first minute).

Facts about student fees

Facts about student fees
Embedded YouTube Video

Made by Bournemouth University in September 2011 for the Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information.

Small things may have changed so check the PDF for up-to-date info. Feel free to pass to others and embed the video on your own site.

MArtin explains student finance

Embedded YouTube Video

Edited for the Independent Taskforce on Student Finance Information from a Department of Business, Innovation and Skills video.

Listen to Martin explaining the changes on BBC Radio Five Live's Shelagh Fogarty show. Click on the player below to listen (13:15).

What's in the booklet


If you only read the newspapers, you’d believe all students were single 18-year-olds who have just got their A-level results, and are ready to spend three years in the student bar binge drinking.

Yet few of those stereotypes are true (though I’m sure some may still like the odd pint). Many at university are substantially older, have children or are financed independently. In fact, some universities now see mature students as the majority.

1. The basic facts

The size of tuition fees can be scary, but often, it’s not as frightening as it sounds. The repayments are solely based on earnings, not on the amount borrowed. It’s important you know the key facts.

2. Loans, grants and bursaries

There is a range of financial support out there for those wanting to go into higher education. This falls into two main categories – Government support and direct money from universities and colleges. The amounts available often depend on household income – which usually means your unearned income, and the taxable income of any partner that lives with you.

3. How the repayments work?

Student loans must be repaid when you have left the course and started work, and are earning over £21,000 – whereas grants and bursaries do not need to be repaid (unless you leave your course early in some circumstances). Students starting at English universities in 2015 could graduate with loans of anything up to £51,000 if they take both tuition fee loans and maintenance loans.

4. How much will it actually cost?

This is the crucial question and it's one of the many fears putting people off going to university – the ‘how will I afford to live with this debt?’ question. The answer is different for everyone, but the following three points should help clear it up.


5. Q&As

Key questions answered include: 'If I want to do a distance learning course – can I get a living cost loan?', 'What happens if I lose my job or take a career break?' and 'How do those who are self-employed repay the debt?'.

Further reading

A list of key contacts to help with all aspects of student finance.

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