Student Finances – The Basics: Loans, Grants and Fees


You may be obligated to pay certain bills or fees for the duration of your studies. These fees are unique to students and may be unfamiliar if you have not studied previously.


As a student, you may also be entitled to funding throughout your studies to help you pay these expenses. This page has basic information on the financial options that you may want to consider to help you with your student lifestyle.


Student Loan


A student loan is money that can be leant to students to help them pay for university tuition fees and maintenance (living costs). A student loan may vary depending on your personal circumstances and the course that you have chosen to pursue. You can find out about the Student loans available here.


Am I eligible for a student loan?


You might be. This can depend on:


  • Your University or college
  • Your course
  • If you’ve studied a higher education course before
  • Your age
  • Your nationality or residences status


You can use the student finance calculator to find out what finance you may be eligible for.


How do I apply for a student loan?


How you apply for a student loan varies depending on:


  • Where you are from within the UK;
  • When you started your studies; and,
  • Whether you are a new student or a continuing student.


You are considered a continuing student if you are:


  • Moving on to the next year of study
  • Repeating a year of the same course or returning from an Interruption of Study
  • Transferring to a new course


If you are a student from the UK, you can find out about the application process that applies to you here. You may need your National Insurance number on hand for your application.


How do I pay back my student loan?


Your repayments will be taken out of your salary at the same time as tax and National Insurance. This will usually be calculated by your employer.


You start repaying when your income is more than the minimum amount.


If you are a UK student, find out more about how to repay your loan here


I want to change my course, take an Interruption of Study, or resit the year. Am I still eligible for student finance?

If you stopped your course within the first year, you are likely to be eligible for funding when/if you return to study. 


However, if you decide to change your course after the first year, you may not be eligible for student finance for the duration of the new degree programme. 


If you are concerned that this applies to you, we strongly advise you to visit the Advice and Money team who can provide advice and guidance on this matter.



Maintenance Grant


If you are a continuing student at Cardiff University and started your degree between 1st September and 2012 and 31st July 2016, you may be eligible for a Maintenance Grant.


This is a non-repayable, means-tested grant towards your living costs. The amount that you receive will depend on your household income.


For students who started University after July 2016, the Maintenance Grant is no longer available. However, you may be eligible for a student loan.



Tuition Fees


Tuition fees are a fee that most students must pay for each year of study. 


If you are a sponsored student, a third party may be responsible for paying your tuition fees.


How do I pay my tuition fees?


  1. If you have taken out a student loan, your tuition fees will be paid directly to the University by the Student Loans Company.
  2. If you are self-financing, you need to pay your instalments throughout the academic year. Your tuition fee payment guidance can be found on your Sims portal.


What if I don’t pay my tuition fees?


If you are unable to pay your tuition fees or choose to withhold payment, you risk being de-registered from your course.


If you are unable to make a payment, you may be able to request an adjustment to your tuition fees. You can find out more on the intranet


If you have decided to withdraw from your course, you may not be required to pay any more tuition fees for that academic year.


  • Student Loan Funded 

    This depends on the date that you officially withdraw. If you have surpassed a specified date within the term, you may be required to pay for the tuition fees for that term in full. Find out more here
  • Self-financed

    You will be charged on a pro-rata basis for the number of weeks that you attended the programme. If you have paid for weeks beyond your official withdrawal date, you may be entitled to a refund.


Bank accounts


What types of bank accounts are there?


There are loads. But, here are a handful of the most common ones. 


It’s always a good idea to speak to your bank, to see what account may be best suited to you given your personal circumstances.


  • Current Account

    A Current Account, sometimes known as a Chequing Account, is the most common first account. With a Current Account, you may be able to apply for an authorised overdraft which could help you if, owing to your personal circumstances, you are likely to overspend.

    Approval for a Current Account is often based on a credit check.
  • Student Accounts

    We would strongly advise you to consider opening a Student Account – it’s says it right in the name – it’s specifically for students.

    These accounts are similar to Current Accounts, but with additional benefits that could help you throughout your studies.

    This could include, but is not limited to:
    • An interest-free overdraft 
    • A free railcard
    • Gift vouchers


If you decide to open a Student Account, remember, you are not going to be a student forever, so your account won’t be a Student Account forever either. Usually, once you have graduated from study, your student account will change to an alternative account. This is typically a Current Account, but we would advise you to confirm the details of this change with your bank.


  • Joint Bank Accounts

    A Joint Account is an account that is shared between two or more people. This may be useful for managing household bills. 

    Most bank accounts can be made into a Joint Account. It is good to know if this is the case for any of your accounts before you open up another.

    If you open up a Joint Bank account, you are agreeing for your financial records to be linked; if one of you had a poor credit history this may affect the other.

    You also need to trust each other. If one of you were to withdraw money, it is almost impossible to reclaim it. However, you can set up the account, so that both or all parties have to authorise any payments. Plus, if you dip into the overdraft, you are jointly liable for recovering that debt. 
  • Savings Accounts

    You can open a Savings Account if you are planning to put away money for the future or bigger purchases. Using a Savings Account, you may get interest on your savings but how much interest you receive may vary, depending on the financial climate – but every little helps.



Where can I find out more?


I’m glad you asked – we are no experts in this field so it’s a good idea to speak to someone who is.


  • We would strongly advise you to speak to your bank or building society before opening up a new account;
  • You can look up more information bank accounts online:


University Residences fees


If you are staying in University residences, you will be required to pay a fee that covers your rent and bills throughout the academic year.


Do they apply to me?


These fees only apply to you if you have a tenancy contract with Cardiff University residences. 


If you are in private halls, or private rented accommodation, your accommodation fees will be different and you will not be subject to Residences Fees from Cardiff University.

What if I don’t pay my residences fees?


If you pay your fees late, you are likely to incur additional charges, which may increase if you are further delayed in your payment.


Payment may be recovered by the University debtors and may ultimately result in legal action.


If you are unable to pay your residences fees you need to let the University know as soon as possible. You can find the appropriate contact information here


Who can I talk to about my residences fees?


If you have any questions about your residences fees, you may want to contact your residences office. You may be able to find their contact details on this webpage


Student Discounts 


A student discount is a percentage reduction in the cost of an item or service owing to your student status.


In order to receive a student discount, you may be asked to prove that you are a student. This may be by presenting a student card, Totum card, or student email address.


What discounts can I get?


It is not an obligation for shops, restaurants or service providers to offer a student discount but some companies do offer this provision.


Some of the student discounts that you may be entitled to include, but are not limited to:


  • Railcard – Discounts on train journeys 
  • Student Card/Totum Card - Discounts on physical items and clothing
  • Student Card/Totum Card - Discounts in restaurants 
  • Brands affiliated with UniDays
  • Brands affiliated with Student Beans


Where can I find out more?


Take a look at these webpages for more information:



Know any more student discount sites? Let us know!


Student Advice
029 2078 1410



Cardiff University Students’ Union, registered in Wales. Nothing here in contained constitutes an order for goods or services unless accompanied by an official order

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