Your entitlement to a tuition fee loan from Student Finance can be affected by changes to study and having previous study in higher education.
Eligible Home and EU students are entitled to a tuition fee loan from Student Finance for the duration of their course plus one ‘gift year’.
So where OD is the ‘ordinary duration’ of your course, the number of years you are entitled to a tuition fee loan is OD + 1.
When you interrupt, repeat or withdraw from your course, or if you have previously studied on another higher education course before your current one, this can use up your entitlement.
See below for how previous study impacts your entitlement.
Jump to ‘Compelling Personal Reasons’ if you are interrupting, repeating or withdrawing from your course and would like to know how to receive some entitlement back.
If you have spent any time in higher education before, this will be counted as ‘previous study’ and will be deducted from your entitlement on your new course.
So where OD is the ‘ordinary duration’ of the new course and PC is the number of years spent on the previous course, the calculation for entitlement is
(OD+1) – PC = number of years of tuition fee funding on new course
Student Finance will count any academic year that you attended higher education as previous study, even if you did not receive any funding from them for that year, and even if you were not in attendance for the whole year.
A student starts a course at Durham, completes year 1 and then withdraws part way through year 2. They then come to UCL to start a 3 year course. Their tuition fee loan entitlement calculation is
(3+1) – 2 = 2
They have 2 years of tuition fee loan entitlement left.
Usually, when the number of tuition fee loan entitlement years left is less than is needed for the new course, Student Finance will fund from the final year forwards.
If you start on a new 3 year course but only have 2 years of tuition fee loan entitlement left, then Student Finance will fund years 2 and 3 of your course, leaving you to self-fund tuition fees in year 1:
Year 1 – Self-fund tuition fees + maintenance loan
Year 2 – Tuition fee loan + maintenance loan
Year 3 – Tuition fee loan + maintenance loan
The self-funding years can present a problem for students because the maintenance loan cannot be released until you have paid the first tuition fee instalment to UCL and therefore become fully enrolled. So if you are in this position and intending to use your maintenance loan to pay your fees, bear this in mind.
If you have used up some of your entitlement, whether due to previous study or because you are interrupting, repeating or withdrawing on your current course, there is a way to get some entitlement back.
Student Finance will not deduct a year from your entitlement if you can prove you had ‘compelling personal reasons’ (CPR) for the interruption, repeat or withdrawal that happened in that year.
There is not a definitive list of circumstances that they will accept as CPR, but examples include physical or mental health issues, personal or family problems, bereavement, maternity and financial difficulties.
To be granted CPR for an academic year and not have it deducted from your overall entitlement, you need to send Student Finance evidence from a professional (for example GP, counsellor or therapist, UCL tutor or support staff) that backs up your claim. The evidence should be on signed headed paper and include:
- What you were experiencing and the specific time period you were experiencing it
- How it affected you
- Why it meant you were not able to progress in your studies
Send this evidence via post to Student Finance along with a covering letter from you which includes:
- Your name, the date and your Student Finance Customer Reference Number
- An explanation of the academic year for which you are submitting CPR evidence and what evidence you have enclosed
- A description in your own words of your story – what you experienced, over what time period and why it means you were not able to progress in your studies.
If you have any further questions about your Student Finance entitlement and providing CPR evidence, you can contact the Student Funding Adviser via askUCL.