Student finance applications
Applications must be made to student finance bodies for both tuition loans and maintenance loans. Some students will need to include information from tax returns and tax forms to support their applications. This page explains what tax information you may need to complete these forms. If you need information about the amounts of loans you can get or how to apply, you can find links to official guidance at the end of this page.
Content on this page:
All student finance applications
All student finance applications will require some basic information which is related to the tax system.
You should check with the relevant student finance body for where you live (see links under the heading More information on student finance below), but generally you need to include your National Insurance number (NINO) on your student finance application. You should have received your NINO shortly before your 16th birthday. If you haven’t received your NINO or have lost it, see our website guidance.
If you are applying for a tuition fee and/or a basic maintenance loan only, you should not need to include any information about your household income.
Applying for more than the basic maintenance loan
To apply for more than the basic (minimum) level of maintenance loan, you will need to provide information about your household’s taxable income on your application form. You may also have to provide evidence of your household’s taxable income. This is so the correct amount of maintenance loan you are eligible for can be calculated. You will also need to include this information if you want to apply for some other financial support, such as childcare grants.
The information you need to provide is usually based on an earlier tax year. For example, for a student finance application for the 2023/24 academic year (September 2023 to August 2024) you will usually need to provide information from the 2021/22 tax year (6 April 2021 to 5 April 2022).
To find out what additional information you need, check with your student finance provider whether you are classed as:
- a dependent student (you are financially dependent on someone else, such as a parent); or
- an independent student.
We give an overview of each situation below.
The rules may differ depending on which part of the UK you live in – links to further guidance are available under the heading More information on student finance below.
The information that dependent students will generally need to apply for more than the basic amount of the maintenance loan is outlined here.
Your own taxable income
This may include:
- Payments from your employer specifically to attend the course. However, you do not have to include any earnings from work or self-employment while you are on your course, for example if you have a part-time job.
- Savings income (gross interest earned in savings accounts)
- Dividend income
- Rental profits
- Trust and estate income
- Sponsorships or other income for attending the course. You do not have to include any payments made by your sponsor to a pension scheme if those payments qualify for tax relief.
Your parent’s (and their partner’s, if applicable) taxable income
If you are a dependent student, you will also need to include information about the taxable income of those you depend on. For example, if you live with or are financially dependent upon both of your parents, you will need to include both of their details on the forms.
If your parents are separated or divorced, then you should only include details of the parent you are financially dependent on or have more contact with. If that parent has a partner, you will also need their details. A partner in this case means your parent’s husband or wife, a civil partner or a person ordinarily living with your parent as their husband/wife or civil partner.
You need to provide information about your parent’s (and their partner’s) taxable income because there is an expectation from the government that unless you are classed as an independent student, your parents will provide a contribution to your livings costs while you are studying.
The information you will need to provide includes:
- Your parent’s (and their partner’s if applicable) National Insurance Number
- Gross employment and pension income (the gross is the amount before any tax or National Insurance contributions are deducted via PAYE)
- Taxable state benefits
- Savings income excluding non-taxable income such as Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs)
- Dividend income
- Taxable benefits in kind
- Profits from self-employment and/or partnerships
- Rental profits
- Other taxable income before expenses and tax are deducted
- Income from UK trusts
- Overseas income and gains
Note: Read the relevant notes for your student finance award body’s application form. These often explain which tax form (such as form P60) or which relevant box from the paper tax return you should use. If you filed your tax return online, HMRC’s system under the ‘view/print/save’ function allows you to download a colour copy of your return which closely resembles the paper form. This might help you to complete the boxes. If you use commercial software to file your tax return, this will often similarly allow you to view a version of the return that looks like the paper form.
From this taxable income, you can deduct:
- any payments made by your parent (and their partner, if applicable) into a registered private pension scheme including additional voluntary contributions; and
- any allowable employment-related expenses on which you have claimed tax relief, such as working from home expenses or professional fees and subscriptions.
All of your household’s taxable income will be added together. The student award bodies will use this income assessment to calculate what amount of maintenance loan above the basic amount you can get. From the total income assessment, the student finance body may make deductions if, for example, there are other dependent children in the household.
Because your parent(s) (or their partner) need to provide information to support your student finance application, they will usually need to create an account with the relevant student finance body. HMRC will then check this information with their records. The student finance body will then contact you to confirm they have all the relevant information and process your loan. You should answer any additional questions and/or provide any evidence requested as promptly as possible.
You will need to provide different information if you are classed as an independent student. The UCAS website explains the various criteria (under Student Finance England – you should check the rules for other parts of the UK) to be an independent student. These include being married or in a civil partnership or you will be over 25 years old before the academic year you are applying for finance for. There are special requirements for care leavers who also may not have to provide details of household income.
Also, you may be classed as estranged from your parents if you have had no contact with both of them for over 12 months. The Stand Alone website has information which may help estranged students.
You may have to provide evidence showing that you are an independent student. The type of evidence which may be requested will depend on the reason you are classed as an independent student such as your marriage or civil partnership, or confirmation from a professional such as a social worker that you are estranged from your parents.
If you are an independent student, you will need to provide household information on both your income (see heading above Your own taxable income) and, if applicable, your partner’s income if you live with them. You do not need to provide information about your parents’ income.
For the student finance application, your partner’s income will be calculated using the same rules as for a dependent student’s parents as explained above, for example including all taxable income and deducting any pension contributions.
All of your household’s taxable income will be added together. The student award bodies will use this to make an income assessment to calculate what amount of maintenance loan you can receive. The student finance body may make deductions from the income assessment, for example to take into account children for whom you (or your spouse or civil partner) are mainly financially responsible for.
Reductions in household income
You use your tax information from an earlier tax year when applying for additional funding above the basic maintenance loan. However, it may be the case that your household income has reduced since the earlier tax year. This may mean you can use information from the current tax year instead.
To apply for a ‘current year assessment’ and use information from the current tax year, your household income must be expected to drop by at least 15% compared to the tax year included on the original application (so for the 2023/24 academic year you would usually provide details from your 2021/22 tax year). If this is the case, then you should contact your student finance body to ask them to look at your estimated income for the current tax year instead. For example, Student Finance England have guidance on GOV.UK about applying for a current year assessment.
As the current year assessment is based on household income, all relevant people must complete the revised assessment. This may include your parent(s) and their partner (if applicable).
As the current year assessment is based on the current tax year, you will have to provide an estimate of your income. This may mean that you need to provide additional information if your income subsequently changes from your original estimate, so that the current year assessment can be revisited. Any further changes may result in the maintenance loan you are entitled to increasing or decreasing. If you have received too much maintenance loan, you will be expected to repay the overpayment straight away.
At the end of the tax year, you will need to confirm your actual household’s taxable income and send evidence to support your current year assessment (for example your form P60 from your employer).
Mistakes on the application and reporting other changes
You should notify the relevant student finance body if you or your parents or partner, have made a mistake regarding their income on the finance application.
There may be other changes in circumstances about which you need to inform the relevant student finance body such as marrying or becoming a civil partner, or your parents having another child.
More information on student finance
There is information on the UCAS website including how to apply for a student loan and extra financial support.
There is a lot of information on GOV.UK about student finance including a step-by-step guide on applying for undergraduate finance which includes a student finance calculator tool. There are also useful links and advice about applying for finance for the 2023/24 academic year on this GOV.UK news article and guidance if you are an English undergraduate.
Depending on where you are based there is information on the following websites:
- England – Student Finance England
- Northern Ireland – Student Finance NI
- Scotland – Student Awards Agency Scotland (SASS)
- Wales – Student Finance Wales
There is information on NHS Bursaries and Social Work Bursaries on the NHS Business Services Authority website.
Also, there is information on GOV.UK on potential expenses whilst being a student and what maintenance loans you may be eligible for if you are an English student.
You may be able to appeal against a decision about the amount of student finance you are awarded. There is information on GOV.UK about appealing to Student Finance England.
There is also information about how student loans are repaid on our website.