Money to live on while studying

Last updated: 17/11/2020

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?

People from the UK and EU who have been 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 study are eligible for help Higher education from SAAS. They do not normally have to pay tuition fees and can apply for a loan and grants to support them while studying.

Students who have had support from SAAS previously may not be entitled to more or the amount they get may be reduced.

The Scottish Government has stated that EU students will not be affected by Brexit if they have already started their course when a decision is made about the future of the UK in Europe.

Students who do not fulfil these conditions may still be entitled to some support.

Contact SAAS for more details:

Helpline: 0300 555 0505

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, council tax bill, or similar showing you are a single parent is acceptable. If you cannot produce these a letter from a professional, your GP for example, may do. You will also need to supply the birth certificate of a dependant child/young person. Continuing students will have to prove they 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. The closing date for applications for 2020 is March 2021.

Apply online at:


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 that affects what you get from SAAS 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.

Earning 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 money will be paid directly to the college or university.

Student loan

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

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 £7,750 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 £6,750 £7,750
£21,000 to £23,999 £0 £6,750 £6,750
£24,000 to £33,999 £0 £6,250 £6,250
£34,000 and above £0 £4,750 £4,750

The loan needs to be repaid but the independent student bursary does not.

The loan must be repaid once your gross income is more than £18,330 per year. Repayments are not taken until the April after the course is completed and are made through HM Revenue & Customs. The amount owed will be up rated annually in line with inflation.

Table 2: Repayment amounts

Income level Monthly repayments
£0 to £18,330 £0
£19,000 £5
£25,000 £50
£30,000 £88
£35,000 £125

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.).

Lone Parent Grant

The Lone Parent Grant is for students bringing up at least one dependent child on their own. Unearned income above £1,067 per year will reduce the grant pound-for-pound. The maximum amount is £1,305 per year. It does not need to be paid back.

The first payment of the Lone Parent Grant is usually made at the start of the course. If you need it before then the SAAS can issue the grant earlier. If you receive the grant early and fail to start the course, you will be expected to pay it back.

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 in foster, kinship and residential care.

The bursary is £8,100. You would claim this instead of the student lone 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 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 you can also apply for help from the discretionary fund.

Support for disabled students

Students who have a disability may be entitled to the Disabled Students’ Allowance to cover personal help and specialist equipment they may need while studying. Help can be substantial.

Help to pay fees for part-time undergraduate courses

Generally, loans and grants 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. In some cases, where no benefits are being claimed for example, a new claim for universal credit can be made. Any study would need to fit around the conditions you need to meet in order to receive your benefits.

You can apply to SAAS for up to £1,820 towards the cost of your course fees for part-time study for degree level courses.

Applicants must have an income of £25,000 a year or less, 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.

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.