WATCH OUT VIDEO: 22-23 - Your Money at University
Funding for students from Scotland is administered by an agency of the Scottish Government known as SAAS (Student Awards Agency Scotland). SAAS operate an online application process and their website has a lot of really useful information about how they work out your entitlement and how you apply for it. Applications open in April and we recommend applying early to ensure your funding is ready for you starting your course.
Student funding packages are made up of support for tuition fees and support for living costs in the form of a bursary and/or a student loan. You must apply to SAAS every year for funding, even if you just want tuition fee support. Support for living costs is income assessed, which means your household income is used to work out what you get.
While it is true that Scottish students don't pay tuition fees, it's not true that tuition is free. It currently costs £1,820 per year for Scottish students to study a degree in Scotland. The cost of tuition for eligible Scottish students is met by SAAS each year but you can usually only get this funding once at each level of study, with an extra year of funding available in case of emergencies. This support is not income assessed.
There are 2 types of bursary – Young Student Bursary and Independent Student Bursary. The one you can apply for depends on your age and circumstances. Generally, students under 25 claim the Young Student Bursary and are income assessed using their parents’ income. Those over 25, married or with children, will claim the Independent Student Bursary and are income assessed using their own income and that of a spouse or partner.
This is the part of your student package that you don’t have to repay. You can usually only get this funding once at each level of study, with an extra year of funding available in case of emergencies. There are some additional grants available to certain students.
Find out more on the SAAS website
Student loans are available on top of bursaries and are the largest element of your student support package. You do not have to take out the student loan, or can elect to take out only a proportion of what you are offered. The student loan is repayable and does accrue interest but it is much cheaper than other types of finance such as bank loans, overdrafts or credit cards.
Find out more about how the Student Loan works
Care Experienced Bursary
If you have been looked after by a Local Authority in the UK, you may be eligible to receive the Care Experienced Students Bursary instead of the support detailed above. The Care Experienced Students Bursary is worth £8,100 and is not income assessed, so the level of your household income does not impact this.
If you are eligible for the Care Experienced Students Bursary, you cannot also claim a student loan.
Find out more on the SAAS website
From 2022/23, if you are a continuing student in receipt of this bursary, you must choose if you want your bursary paid during term-time only (as has been the case until now), or if you want to spread this over the full year. We must stress that the bursary amount of £8,100 will not change, you simply decide how this is divided up.
It’s important to think about the full year ahead when making your decision. If you are a student who is eligible to apply for Universal Credits during your studies, such as a lone parent, you will need to consider how your decision in relation to your bursary impacts your Universal Credits.
Term-time only payments:
Pros: Larger monthly instalments.
Cons: No payments during summer break.
Students who may benefit from this include those who have benefit entitlement during summer break. See the example below.
Pros: Source of income every month, even summer.
Cons: Monthly payments will be less as the bursary will be divided by 12.
Students who may benefit from this include those who do not have a source of income over summer at all, or who have part-time work year-round but this isn’t increased in the summer period.
IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR UNIVERSAL CREDITS:
Not many full-time students are eligible for Universal Credits during their studies, but one group who are is lone parents. The options you have available in respect of your bursary won’t impact your overall entitlement to Universal Credit but will impact how that entitlement ties in with your bursary payments. We hope the following example helps you see the difference based on the new bursary payment options:
Example based on student parent eligible for UC of £1200 per month, before deductions:
No matter how you choose to receive your bursary, the Universal Credit calculation is based on the length of the academic year. Bursary income is divided across the months of study and the first £110/month is disregarded. I.e., £8,100 divided by a 9-month academic year is £900. Minus the £110 that is disregarded, the Universal Credit calculation takes student funding into account at £790/month.
Choosing to receive the bursary over 12 months:
During term-time, you get £675/month via the bursary and £410 from Universal Credits (remember this is reduced each month of academic year by £790). The total income is £1,085 per month.
This changes in the summer vacation where Universal Credits is paid in full at £1,200. Factor in the monthly bursary at £675 and the total income is £1,875 per month.
Choosing to receive the bursary during term-time:
During term-time, you get £810/month via the bursary and £410 from Universal Credits (remember this is reduced each month of academic year by £790). The total income is £1,220 per month.
This changes in the summer vacation where Universal Credits is paid in full at £1,200. As you elected not to spread the bursary over the full year, this is your only income.
*While the overall income across the entire year works out to be the same in both cases, the income is more evenly spread over the year when the choice is made to receive the bursary during term-time. A more even level of income may be easier for you to manage.