Making ends meet: how to pay for uni

By Rupert Jones
You might need a part-time job at university to make ends meet.
You might need a part-time job at university to make ends meet. Photograph: Ika84/Getty Images

If you are one of the thousands of young people thinking of heading off for three or more years of study, you might want to start thinking about how you’ll pay for it. That includes checking how much student finance you’ll receive, in particular for the maintenance loan. You should also think about whether you’re going to need to get a part-time job to earn extra beer money or simply to make ends meet.

Student finance
This is the official government funding that pays for your university’s tuition fees and helps with your living costs.

It comprises the tuition fee loan, which covers your course fees and is paid directly to your university, and the maintenance loan, which is designed to help with costs such as accommodation and food. Applicants must apply to the student finance body in your country; to find out more, go to

How much?
How much maintenance loan you get depends on your household income (for most students, that’s how much their parents earn), where you live and where you’ll be studying.

In England, for example, the maximum loan for a student living at home is currently £7,987 and the minimum is £3,516. If you’ll be living away from home, outside London, the maximum and minimum are £9,488 and £4,422. If you’ll be living away from home in London, it’s £12,382 and £6,166 respectively. Generally, you’ll get the maximum maintenance loan if your annual household income is below £25,000, and the minimum when the household income is above a certain threshold (these vary, ranging from around £58,000 to £70,000).

If your family’s finances have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, you may be able to obtain a higher level of funding.

Bursaries and other financial help
Students can apply for financial assistance directly from their university on top of any other student finance. Each university will have its own rules about bursaries, scholarships and awards in terms of who qualifies and how much they can get. Universities also typically run hardship funds to help people experiencing financial difficulty.

Help can also often be obtained from private companies, trade bodies and charities. For example, the Royal Television Society runs two bursary schemes – the technology bursary and the TV production and journalism bursary – designed to support students from lower-income backgrounds to pursue a career in the TV industry. It offers, among other things, a financial award of £1,000 per academic year. The submission window is now open and will close on 30 September.

Meanwhile, Leverhulme Trade Charities Trust awards bursaries of up to £3,000 a year to university students judged to be “in financial need”. To be eligible you need to have a parent who is, or was, a travelling salesperson, pharmacist or grocer. The next closing date for applications is 15 October.

The Scholarship Hub, a social enterprise, has an online database that people can search for UK scholarships, grants or bursaries for university.

When it comes to charitable grants, there is a website – – run by the charity Turn2us which people can use to look for financial help.

How to get part-time work
Your maintenance loan almost certainly won’t cover all of your living costs. For many, a part-time job will be the best way to get extra cash. However, many of your fellow students will have the same idea, so if possible, start applying early.

“Once term starts, there are likely to be lots of other students looking for part-time jobs at the same time. By sending in applications early, there should be a bit less competition for the most popular student workplaces, such as shops and bars near campus,” says Laura Brown, editor of the website Save the Student, which has a database of part-time jobs people can search.

She adds that it’s a good idea to think about which shops you are likely to buy from while at uni. If there’s a decent staff discount on offer, getting a job at one of these could be a smart move.

Retail and hospitality are far from the only options. “Students could consider alternative part-time jobs like private tutoring, representing companies as a student brand ambassador, or even working as a TV or film extra,” she adds.

Many pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes have been hit by staff shortages as a result of people quitting the sector because of Covid or Brexit, so there could well be opportunities in your area.

Meanwhile, the explosion in dog ownership during the pandemic – and the fact that many of these new owners are now having to go back to the office – means that in many areas there is a big demand for dog walkers and pet sitters.

What is inkl?

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