Income assessment for full-time students

All full-time students who qualify for student finance are entitled to a basic amount of financial help. Anyone can get a loan to cover tuition fees. However, the total amount you can get through grants and the Student Loan for Maintenance will depend on your household income.

Household income assessment

The rules on how household income assessment works are complicated, and this page is only a general guide.

All eligible students are entitled to a basic amount of financial help. However, the total amount available through grants and the Student Loan for Maintenance is based on your household income. In general, students from other European Union (EU) countries can only get help with tuition fees - though there are some exceptions.

If you live with your parents, a spouse or a partner, they may be asked to contribute towards supporting you as a student. If you, or other members of your household don’t give information about your household income, you may not receive all the help you could get.

However, if you’re eligible for the Student Loan for Tuition Fees, you’ll get it whatever your household income as 75 per cent of the loan is not based on any assessment.

How income assessment works

Your local Student Finance NI office will ask you to give details of income for your household from the previous financial year. Certain allowances and deductions are then made - for example, for dependent children. The amount left after these deductions is called your 'household income' or 'residual income', and is used to decide how much financial help you’re entitled to.

Whose income will be counted

Student Finance NI offices will always count your own income. This will include non-earned income, such as interest from savings, but not casual or part-time earnings during your course.

They may also count income from your parents or partner, depending on whether you are classed as a 'dependent' or 'independent' student. The information below tells you what’s usually taken into account when classifying students, but it doesn't cover all circumstances.

Dependent students

Generally, you’ll be classed as a dependent student if you’re under 25 on the first day of the academic year for which you’re applying for support and are financially dependent on one or both of your parents (even if you don't live with them). If you’re a dependent student, your local authority will take into account the income of your parents or adoptive parents on top of your own income.

If your parents are divorced or separated, the Student Finance NI office will assess the income of just one your parents, rather than both, whichever one seems suitable to them in the circumstances.

They will ignore income from your other parent, but will take into account the income of any spouse, civil partner or live-in partner of the parent they decide to assess (including a partner of the same sex).

Independent students

The lists below aren't exhaustive, but they provide a general guide to when you'll be classed as an independent student. You’ll usually be classed as independent if any of the following apply to you on the first day of the academic year for which you’re applying for support:

  • you have care of a child or young person under the age of 18
  • you are aged 25 or over
  • you have no living parents

Generally speaking, you'll also be classed as independent if either of the following applies to you before the first day of the academic year for which you're applying for support:

  • you are, or have been, married or in a civil partnership
  • you have supported yourself for at least three years

If you are an independent student, your local authority will only take into account your income and that of your partner. This can mean your spouse or civil partner.

Household income - how it affects financial help

Your Student Finance NI office will use your 'residual income' to work out how much your household is expected to contribute to supporting you while you’re studying, and how much financial help you’re entitled to. The level of financial help you can get will depend on whether you:

  • study in London or elsewhere
  • live at home
  • are in the final year of your course

If your household income is below a certain level, you’ll get the full Student Loan for Maintenance together with a grant to help with living costs. If you’re from a higher income household it’s assumed that your parents, spouse or partner will make more of a contribution to supporting you while you’re studying - but you’ll still be able to get at least 75 per cent of the maximum Student Loan for Maintenance.

The table below show an overview of the maintenance loan and maintenance grant levels available to full-time undergraduate students, depending on household income.

Household income Maintenance Grant Maintenance Loan - living away from home and studying outside London Maintenance Loan - living away from home and studying in London Maintenance Loan - living at parents' home
£19, 203 £3,475 £2,953 £4,893 £1,863
£25,000 £2,201 £3,289 £5,229 £2,199
£30,000 £1,215 £3,625 £5,565 £2,535
£35,000 £689 £4,151 £6,091 £3,061
£41,540 £0 £4,840 £6,780 £3,750

For further guidance on financial support for full-time students, see the 'Guide to Financial Support for Full-Time Students in Higher Education' on the Student Finance website at the link below:

Income assessment for part-time students

Grants are available for part-time students. What you get is based on your income assessment. Further information for part-time students is available at the link below.

Further information

If you have any questions about whether you’ll be classified as dependent or independent, ask your local Student Finance NI office.

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