Essential glossary of terms for students applying for uni | Blackbullion

Starting uni can be overwhelming. Terms like loans, repayment thresholds and hardship funds are thrown around without much context. Making sense of them prior to applying for university can help you navigate through the jargon and make sense of this new world.

In this blog, we summed up some of the terms you’re likely to encounter as a student, and provided you with a quick explanation of what exactly every one of these terms actually mean. 

  1. Student Loans Company (SLC): A government-owned company that provides student loans in the UK.
  2. Tuition Fee Loan: A loan available to eligible students to cover the full cost of tuition fees. It's paid directly to the university or college.
  3. Maintenance Loan: A loan to help with living costs, such as accommodation, food, and books. The amount you receive depends on factors like where you live/study and your household income.
  4. Maintenance Grant (or Special Support Grant in some regions): A form of financial aid that does not have to be paid back. It was available for students from low-income households but has undergone changes and may not be available in all regions.
  5. Student Loan Repayment: The process of paying back your student loans once you've graduated or left your course and are earning above a certain income threshold.
  6. Income Contingent Repayment (ICR): The UK student loan repayment system, where repayments are based on a percentage of your income above a set threshold.
  7. Plan 1, Plan 2, Plan 3, Plan 4 and Plan 5 Loans: Different repayment plans for student loans. The plan determines the repayment threshold and interest rates. Which plan you're on usually depends on when you started your course and where in the UK you were living at the time.
  8. Postgraduate Loan: A loan for students taking a taught or research postgraduate Masters.
  9. Doctoral Loan: A loan for students pursuing a postgraduate doctoral course, such as a PhD.
  10. National Union of Students (NUS): The main representative organisation for students in the UK, which provides support, discounts, and campaigns on student issues.
  11. Bursaries: Non-repayable funds given by universities or other organisations to support students, often based on financial need or other criteria.
  12. Scholarships: Financial awards given to students based on academic merit, talents, or other criteria. They don't need to be repaid.
  13. Tuition fees: The cost charged by universities or colleges for academic instruction.
  14. Home student: Generally, a student who's been a UK resident for at least three years before the start of their course. Home students usually pay lower tuition fees compared to international students.
  15. EU student: Before Brexit, EU students were often categorised similarly to home students for fee purposes. This has changed after Brexit, and the exact fee status now may vary.
  16. Overseas or International student: A student who does not qualify as a 'home' or 'EU' student and therefore typically pays higher tuition fees.
  17. Means-tested: An assessment based on household income to determine eligibility for certain financial support.
  18. Hardship Funds: Funds available at some universities to support students in financial difficulty.
  19. Professional and Career Development Loan (PCDL): Commercial bank loans, used to pay for courses and training that help with your career or help get you into work.
  20. Repayment Threshold: The income level above which a graduate starts repaying their student loan.
  21. Interest Rate: The cost of borrowing money, expressed as a percentage of the loan.
  22. Repayment Period: The duration over which borrowers are expected to repay their student loans.
  23. Write-off: The point at which any remaining student loan debt is canceled. This usually happens after a certain number of years from the April you were first due to repay.
  24. Student Finance England (SFE): The service responsible for financial support for English students.
  25. Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS): The service responsible for financial support for Scottish students.
  26. Student Finance Wales (SFW): The service responsible for financial support for Welsh students.
  27. Student Finance NI: The service responsible for financial support for Northern Irish students.
  28. Dependent student: A student who is financially dependent on their parents, which can impact the amount of financial aid they receive.
  29. Independent student: A student who is financially independent and is assessed based on their own income and savings (and that of their partner if they have one).
    Placement Year: A year of either work experience or study abroad as part of a degree. Some students might get increased maintenance support during this year.
  30. Additional Support: Additional money is available for students with particular circumstances, like having children or an adult dependent, or having a disability.
  31. Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA): Extra money available for students with a disability, mental health problem, or specific learning difficulty.
    Childcare Grant: A grant to help students with the cost of childcare.
  32. Parents' Learning Allowance: Extra financial support for student parents.
  33. Adult Dependants' Grant: Financial aid for students with an adult who depends on them financially.
  34. Interest Accumulation: The interest added to the total loan amount, which starts accruing from the time the loan is taken out.
  35. Compounding Interest: The addition of interest to the principal amount borrowed, meaning you're charged interest on previously accumulated interest.
    Early Repayment: Paying off student loans before the end of the repayment period, sometimes to avoid the accumulation of further interest.
  36. Gift Aid: A system where charities (including universities) can claim back the tax already paid on donations (which includes some scholarships and bursaries) from HMRC.
  37. NHS Bursaries: Funding that used to be provided by the National Health Service for certain medical, dentistry, or healthcare students. However, this is no longer available. 
  38. NHS Learning Support Fund (LSF)Additional funding for eligible healthcare students. It is supplementary financial support to the mainstream student loan system and is intended to help support students attending healthcare courses. 
  39. Social Work Bursaries: Financial support provided for students studying approved undergraduate/postgraduate social work courses.
  40. Teacher Training Funding: Grants or bursaries are available for those pursuing teacher training.
  41. Unsubsidised Loan: A loan on which interest accumulates while the student is still studying.


For further information, check out gov.uk

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