Financially supporting a student
Eligibility for financial help is assessed on the basis of household income. Find out what you need to know about your role and responsibilities if you're supporting a student through university or college.
The role of parents, spouses and partners
When a student applies for financial help, local authorities work out how much they could get in the form of student loans and grants by looking at their income, and that of their household. This means that parents, partners and spouses of students are often asked to support student applications for financial help by providing their own financial details.
Your local Student Finance NI office will let you know if you need to make a contribution, and if so, the amount. Their decision will be based on the information you give when the student applies for a Student Loan, grant, or help with tuition fees.
Making your contribution
If your local Student Finance NI office decides that you will need to make a contribution, they will assume that you are doing so. If you don't make this contribution, the student is unlikely to have enough money available to fund their study.
Household income details
You need to send details of your household income to make sure the student receives the full amount of student loans, grants and other help to which they are entitled.
If a student makes their application for financial help using the paper application form (PN1), there is a section on this form for the parent, spouse or partner (sometimes known as 'sponsor') to complete their details.
If the student has made their application online, you will be issued with security passwords and will then be given the choice to apply online or on paper. Depending on the information you provide, you may be invited to send documentary evidence to your local Student Finance NI office. If so, you will be given suitable guidance at the time you complete the application.
Providing your financial details online
The student must have completed their part of the application online before you can fill in the financial details required. If the student indicates on their application that you will provide details online, they will be given a unique ID (known as Alias ID) to pass on to you. To provide financial details online in support of a student's application, you need to:
- register and log in to the student's account
- select Support and Application
- use the Alias ID to link your information with that of the student you are supporting
You will be given an Alias ID for every student you support.
How your contribution is assessed
When your local Student Finance NI assesses the application, they look at your income for the previous financial year. If there has been a significant drop in income it is possible that they will review your likely income for the current year. Find out more at income assessment for full-time students.
Your privacy and that of the student
All your information and that of the student will be kept private. You're not entitled to information about the student's application for support and they are not entitled to see information about your income.
If the student doesn't repay their student loan
The obligation to repay a student loan lies entirely with the student. Although you will need to send in information about your income to support your child or partner's application for student support, you won't be liable for any resulting debt. This remains the case if the student withdraws from higher education, their earnings do not reach the required level to start repayment, or if they die while still owing money.
Making enquiries or repayments on behalf of a student
If you would like to make enquiries on behalf of a student, they can give Student Finance NI permission to talk to you about their account. To find out more contact Student Finance Northern Ireland.
If your personal or financial circumstances change
If your personal circumstances change, contact your local Student Finance NI office as soon as possible, as the amount you are expected to contribute may also change.
Changes to your marital status
If your marital status changes, your liability to support a student may also change. Contact your local Student Finance NI office to make sure that your contribution is correctly assessed. Changes could include:
- becoming widowed, separated or divorced
- getting married or moving in with a partner
If your income suddenly drops
If you have already been assessed and there is a sudden drop in your income, contact your local Student Finance NI office immediately in order for a reassessment to take place. This may mean that the student will become entitled to more financial help from the government.