If you’re a full-time higher education student, you may be able to get a non-repayable grant to help with accommodation and other living costs. If you’re a new student – and, in most cases, if you started in or after 2006/2007 – the grants you can apply for are called the ‘Maintenance Grant’ and ‘Special Support Grant’.
Maintenance Grant and Special Support Grant
If you’re from Northern Ireland and doing a full-time higher education course in the UK, you may be able to get help with accommodation and other living costs through the Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant. Whether you qualify - and the level of grant you’ll get - depends on your household income. You don’t have to pay them back, and you can apply for them at the same time as you’re applying for Student Loans from the government - through the main student finance application.
If you’re a new student - or you started in or after 2006/2007
New students, and most of those who started in or after 2006/2007, may qualify for the Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant. If you qualify, you’ll get one or the other - but not both.
If you started before September 2006
The Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant won’t be available if you started your course before September 2006 - or you’re treated as if you did because, for example, you took a gap year in 2005/2006. But you may be able to apply for the Higher Education Grant instead. See ‘Student finance after your first year: started before September 2006?’ for details.
How much you can get for 2014/2015
You could get up to £3,475 through the Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant, if your household income is £19,203 or less. If your household income falls between £19,203 and £41,065 you may be eligible to receive a partial grant, depending on the level of your household income. If your household income is more than £41,065 you will not be eligible to receive a Maintenance Grant or Special Support Grant.
Maintenance Grant and Special Support Grant: which should you apply for?
The amount of help you can get through the Maintenance Grant and Special Support Grant is the same. But if you get the Maintenance Grant, some of it is paid instead of the Student Loan for Maintenance. In other words, it will reduce the amount you can get through Student Loans. For more information on how this works, follow the link that’s relevant to you within the section above on ‘How much you can get for 2014/2015’.
Special Support Grant
The Special Support Grant replaces the Maintenance Grant for certain groups of students entering higher education on or after academic year 2006/2007. If you get the Special Support Grant, it won’t affect how much you can get through the Student Loan for Maintenance - and it won’t be counted as income when working out if you’re entitled to income-related benefits or tax credits. You’ll qualify for the Special Support Grant if you belong to one of the groups of people classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the Department for Social Development Students who are likely to qualify include:
- single parents
- other student parents if they have a partner who is also a student
- students with certain disabilities
But there are other students who may be eligible for the Special Support Grant. You don’t necessarily have to receive - or even have applied for - benefits. Contact your local Student Finance NI office if you’re not sure which grant to apply for.)
How to apply
You apply for both types of grant through the main student finance application.It’s best to apply before your course starts, but you can still apply up to nine months from the start of the academic year.
How are the grants paid?
The Maintenance Grant and the Special Support Grant will be paid to you by Student Finance NI at the start of each term - usually straight into your bank account.You’ll get the grant at the same time as any Student Loan for Maintenance.
If your circumstances change
If your circumstances change - for example, if your household income goes up or down - you must tell your local Student Finance Northern Ireland office.