Money to live on while studying

Last updated: 28/04/2022

The money you’ll have to live on while studying will be a combination of student funding from the Student Award Agency Scotland (SAAS), benefits and earnings. Which of these, and how much you get, depends on your circumstances.

Help from Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)

Who can get help from SAAS?

To get help from SAAS you must have been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for three years or more immediately before the first day, of the first year, of your course. This means that the UK has been your home for at least 3 years. Your home must also be in Scotland on the first day of your course and you have not moved to Scotland just to study.

If you meet these conditions you will not normally have to pay tuition fees and can apply for a loan and grants to support them while studying.

If you have had support from SAAS previously you may not be entitled to more or the amount you get may be reduced.

If you do not fulfil these conditions you may still be entitled to some support.

Contact SAAS for more details visit:

Helpline: 0300 555 0505 Mon, Thurs and Fri, 9am -4pm


Proof you are a single parent

SAAS will ask you for proof that you are a single parent when applying for financial support. A benefit award letter or council tax bill showing you are a single parent is acceptable. If you do not have  these a letter from a professional, your GP for example, may do. You will also need to supply you children’s birth certificates. If you are a continuing students will have to prove you are single parents at the start of each academic year.

Money from SAAS

The money you get from SAAS includes:-

  • Money to pay tuition fees
  • Student Loan
  • Lone Parent Grant
  • Independent Students’ Bursary
  • Lone Parent Childcare Grant (LPCG)

You must apply to SAAS for this funding as soon as possible after you have received an offer of a place at university or college. Late applications could mean a delay in you receiving your funding.


How earnings, benefits and maintenance affect money from SAAS

Some unearned income is taken into account when calculating how much you will get from SAAS. Unearned income includes income from pensions, property and benefits paid for you like Maternity Allowance and the standard allowance of Universal Credit. These could decrease your award.

Earnings from work you do while studying do not affect the money you get form SAAS. Child Maintenance and benefits paid for children such as Child Benefit or the child element of Universal Credit are also not counted.



Money to pay tuition fees

As long as you are eligible for help from SAAS you will not have to pay tuition fees unless you have already received this help in the past. You will still have to apply for them at the same time as applying for the loan and grants but the course fee will be paid directly to the college or university.

Apply to SAAS:

Student loan

The largest amount of money you will receive from SAAS is the student loan. It provides money for you to live on. Interest of 1.5% is added to the loan.

You will also get the Independent Student Bursary if your household income is below £21,000 p/a. Household income includes Working Tax Credit and the standard allowance of Universal Credit but not earned income, Child Maintenance, help to pay rent or Personal Independence Payments/Disability Living Allowance.

You will get the maximum of £8,100 p/a if your household income is below £20,999.

Table 1: Student loan amounts

Household income Bursary Loan Total
£0 to £20,999 £1,000 £7,100 £8,100
£21,000 to £23,999 £0 £7,100 £7,100
£24,000 to £33,999 £0 £6,600 £6,600
£34,000 and above £0 £5,100 £5,100

The loan needs to be repaid but the Independent Student Bursary does not.

Repaying the student loan

The loan must be repaid to the Student Loan Company. There are different loan repayment plans. Scottish students who started their course on or after 1 September 1998 will be on plan 4. This means loan repayments are not taken unless your gross income is more than £2,114 per month. Repayments will not be taken if you are not working or your income is below this amount.

Repayments are 9% of the amounts over this threshold.

For example if your income is £2,350, £136 over the threshold, you will pay back £12 (9% of £136) this month.

Repayments start in April after the course is completed and are included in your tax. You will see the deductions on your payslip.

The repayment of student loans will be considered a ‘priority’ and will be deducted from your income irrespective of other financial commitments (i.e. mortgage, living expenses etc.).

Apply to SAAS 


Lone Parent Grant

The Lone Parent Grant is for students bringing up at least one dependent child on their own. The maximum amount is £1,305 per year but how much you actually get is based on your income. It does not need to be paid back.

Apply to SAAS:

For more details see:

Care Experienced Student Bursary

If you are 16 or over and have ever been in the care of the local authority you can apply for the Care Experienced Bursary rather than a maintenance bursary. Care includes having been place by the local authority in foster, kinship or residential care.

The bursary is £8,100. You would claim this instead of the student loan and independent student bursary but can still get the Lone Parent Grant and help with childcare costs from the Lone Parent Childcare Grant and discretionary funds.

For more details and to apply visit: or talk to the student financial adviser at the university or college.

Lone Parent Childcare Grant

Single parents can apply for the Lone Parent Childcare Grant of up to £1,215 per year to help to pay for registered childcare. The money to pay this grant is limited so you may not get it. The amount you receive depends on the actual cost of your childcare. The grant is not based on your income but you will need to prove you are a single parent. If the grant is not enough to cover your childcare costs, or if it is already finished, you can also apply for help from the discretionary fund.

Apply to your college or university.

Support for disabled students

If you have a disability you may be entitled to help from the Disabled Students’ Allowance. This will help pay for personal assistance and specialist equipment you may need while studying. Help can be substantial.

For more details talk to the Disability Support Service at the university or see:

Help to pay fees for part-time undergraduate courses

Generally, loans and grants for living costs are not available to part-time students. Single parents wanting to study part-time may be able to continue claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, tax credits or Universal Credit.

If you are not currently claiming one of these benefits you can make a new claim for Universal Credit. How much you get is based on your circumstances.

You may have to look for work and accept job offers in order to receive a benefit. You can ask your Work Coach at Jobcentre Plus if the studying part-time can count towards the time you need to spend looking for work.

See Universal Credit for more information.


Money to pay part-time course fees.

You can apply for the Part Time Fee Grant of up to £1,820 towards the cost of your course fees for part-time higher education courses. To get this you must:-

  • have an income under £25,000 a year
  • not be receiving any other government funding for study or training (including the ITA 200, Employability or Apprenticeship Funds) and
  • be studying between 30 and 119 (120 for university courses which are not campus based) SCQF credits during this academic year.

The money does not have to be paid back.

Talk to Student Services at the college of university about how to apply.

For more information see:

Support for postgraduate study

There is a loan available from SAAS, of up to £5,500, to help pay for both full-time and part-time postgraduate courses fees.

There is also a loan for full-time postgraduate students, of up to £4,500, to pay for living costs.

These amounts will be paid for a course lasting one year or divided over the number of years the course lasts.

There is no help from SAAS to pay for living costs for part-time postgraduate study.

For more information see: