Clearly, as humans, we have trouble with punctuality, else we wouldn’t need numerous idioms reminding us to get our act together and just post the forms already. And when it comes to applying for student finance, the sooner the better, because tens of thousands of other people are also having their paperwork processed in the same constricted window.
You already know how hard it is to get your students to hand in something as simple as homework on time; it’s crucial that both you and they are aware of the student finance timeline, because it’s not something that can be dashed off at the last minute, and there’s a lot hanging in the balance if it doesn’t get through in time.
Happy new year! Put out your empties on recycling day and make sure you’ve got a clear head, because this is where it all begins.
Student Finance England begin taking applications for tuition fees and maintenance loans. It takes at least six weeks for applicants to receive confirmation of their entitlement, so getting an early foot in the door is a very good idea. (Other good ideas for January include more sleep, less booze and a bit of a vitamin D boost.)
Students start to receive offers for places on courses. Once they have chosen a firm conditional place, they should look at the university website and prospectus to find out if they are eligible for any other loans, grants, bursaries or scholarships from the university or its partners.
Between March and April, applications open for Student Finance Northern Ireland and Student Finance Wales. There aren’t so many students to process, hence the slightly later date.
To avoid becoming an April fool, students should have these dates marked on a calendar and set themselves reminder alerts on their phones!
SAAS opens applications for tuition fees, loan, bursary and grants. Students can apply as soon as they know which course they intend to pursue. Course details can be changed later on if necessary.
Student Finance Northern Ireland’s cut-off date is mid-April. Applications received after this deadline may not issue payments in time for the start of the course.
The sun might be out, but it’s not time to relax just yet - especially if your students haven’t filled out their finance paperwork. There’s usually identification, residential and income documents to gather too, so don’t delay.
Student Finance Wales has a deadline that usually lands in the middle of May. Students who submit applications after this date may not receive their loans on time.
Student Finance England’s application deadline for courses beginning between August and December is towards the end of May. Any applications received after this date are not guaranteed to receive loans on time.
SAAS has an end-of-June deadline, after which, payment cannot be guaranteed to arrive for the course start date. If there are errors or missing information in the application, this may also cause a delay, so do get them to check over everything before they stick it in the postbox.
Life happens and stuff happens, and not everything works out perfectly. If for some reason, students are in a tangle and send their applications later than the spring deadlines, there is still hope, in the form of retrospective applications:
Student Finance England, Student Finance Wales, Student Finance Northern Ireland allow you to apply for funding up to nine months after the first day of study. Applications received after nine months may not be eligible to receive any funding at all. SAAS set a slightly different cut-off date for late eligibility, around the end of March in the same academic year - though the next calendar year - that the course began.
September - October
Can’t you just see it? The warm autumn breeze blows as your students pack their bags, head off to uni, and begin burning through their loans instantly as they stock up on the compulsory reading from the campus bookshop. Don’t worry. They’ll have a little bit left over for some instant noodles.
Start of term: student finance providers issue the first instalment of maintenance loans to students who applied before the cut-off date.
September - December
Bursary payment, if applicable.
January, the following year
The second instalment of the maintenance loan is issued to students as they embark on their second term at university.
Bursary instalment two arrives, if applicable.
They’ve only been there a term, and it seems like only yesterday that they were scrabbling around to find the appropriate documents for their student loans. Bad news for students: they’re going to have to do it all again, if , like the majority, they’ve got a means-tested loan.
Students need to reapply every year for the following year’s funding.
It looked like April showers but it was actually the tears of a Drama freshman as they realised they didn’t have a penny to their name. Fortunately, though, it’s that time again…
As the third term kicks off, students receive the third and final (for this academic year) instalment of their maintenance loan.
Third round of bursary payments, if applicable.
What a year! Heading off to study for a degree requires not just study skills, but forward-planning financial organisation. Thankfully, with this handy timeline, it’s a little simpler to digest.