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A guide to student maintenance funding and grants in the UK

All full time undergraduate students who study in the United Kingdom are eligible to apply for student support loans, financial funding and Maintenance Grants from Student Finance. The exact amount you receive, and how much of it is made up of loans and how much is made up of grants, depends on your personal circumstances.

The major factor which determines the maximum amount of money to which you have access is where you will live during your studies. For the academic year 2011/2012, for example, if you live in your family home you will be eligible to receive a loan of up to £3,838. If you live separately from your family and study outside London, you can apply for up to £4,950. If you live separately from your family and study in London, you can possibly receive £6,928.

These figures change a lot depending on the year you commence study, and the changes to the system in 2012 will see quite dramatic alterations to these calculations. The maximum amount is also decreased fractionally for students in their final year of study, as it is believed they will look for employment in the summer after their courses finish, while continuing students cannot find permanent work during their summer breaks.

Again for the student year of 2011/2012, a student can apply for 72% of their maximum eligible loan total (that depending on their living circumstances) without any other analysis or question. The final 28% of the loan, however, depends on the income of your family.

For most students, "family" refers to the household in which you grew up. For mature students or married students, this refers to your personal income and/or the income of your spouse.

If your family income is less than £25,000 per year, you are eligible to receive the maximum total. If it is above £25,000, the maximum will incrementally decrease. The logic dictates that students with wealthier families will receive more family support.

If you choose to apply for Maintenance Grants (the maximum being £2,906 in 2011/2012, again given to students whose annual household income is less than £25,000), this figure will supplant the income-based 28% of the loan, leaving you with the non-income-based 72% of the loan plus a grant of £2,906 (or whatever portion of this for which you are eligible).

Additionally, in the student loans process when applying for the aforementioned funding and grants, you can usually choose to submit an extra application for a university bursary, which will give you around another £1,600 of maintenance funds.

To find more information about the current rates, visit direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/index.html.

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