Previous study and the effect on Student Finance England funding

The information on this page applies to undergraduate students starting their degree course in September 2018 only.

Study on an earlier higher education course will affect your entitlement to receive Student Finance England funding for a new course.

If you studied on a full-time higher education course in the past, even for one day, but did not obtain any qualification, this previous study will reduce your entitlement to receive a Student Finance England Tuition Fee Loan for a new full-time course. 

If you studied on a full-time higher education course in the past and obtained a higher education qualification below Honours degree level such as an ordinary degree, HND or HNC this also reduces the number of years you can receive the Student Finance England Tuition Fee Loan for your new full-time course. This applies whether you studied the course on a full-time or a part-time basis. 

If you already hold a qualification that is equivalent to a UK Honours degree or higher you will not be eligible for any Student Finance England Tuition Fee Loan or Maintenance Loan for the whole of your new course.  

An exception is in place for MArch RIBA Pt II Architecture students - If you studied full-time and received SFE funding for your undergraduate course and undertook one year of work experience before continuing onto MArch, you should be eligible for SFE funding for MArch. If you studied your undergraduate degree part-time or took more than a year out between completing your undergraduate degree and starting MArch Riba Pt II, contact Student Advice to check your funding entitlement.

SFE funding entitlement if you already hold a UK Honours degree or a higher level qualification (eg a Masters degree) or an equivalent overseas qualification

In general, if you already hold an equivalent or higher qualification than the one you intend to study:

  • You will not qualify for the Tuition Fee Loan for the duration of your new course and you will have to pay your own tuition fees for your entire course. This applies whether you study a full-time or part-time course.
  • Full-time students will not be eligible to receive the Maintenance Loan for the duration of the course. If you study Architecture there is an exception in the rules that allow a Maintenance Loan to be available for a new course.
  • You will be eligible to receive the Disabled Students' Allowance depending on your needs. If you study full-time, and you have dependent children and/or an adult dependant, you may also be eligible to receive the grants for dependants.
  • These rules also apply to MSci or MEng courses.

This is a basic summary of your possible SFE funding eligibility.

Tuition Fee Loan No
Maintenance Loan No (unless studying Architecture)
Adult Dependants' Grant Yes
Childcare Grant Yes
Parents' Learning Allowance Yes
Disabled Students Allowance Yes

These rules apply even if you did not receive any SFE funding for your previous course. They also apply if you studied at an overseas institution unless you can show that the qualification you achieved is not equivalent to a UK Honours degree. You’ll need to contact the National Recognition Information Centre (UK NARIC) for verification of the UK equivalence of your overseas qualification and submit this to Student Finance England for consideration.

Please note: the rules are complicated and this information is a basic summary only. For individual advice please Contact student advice

SFE funding entitlement for students with previous study on a Higher Education course in the UK or abroad, which was not completed or a qualification lower than a UK Honours degree was achieved

SFE provide funding for the normal length of a course plus one extra year. For example, a three-year degree course would attract four years of funding. The additional year is known as a “gift year”.

Previous study on a part-time degree level course does not count and will not reduce your funding entitlement for a full-time course.

However, if you’ve studied on a full-time higher education course in the past, the number of years (or part-years) you attended reduces the number of years of funding available to you for your new course. This applies even if your study was outside the UK.

Note: one day’s attendance on a course counts as one year of study under these rules.

Previous study reduces entitlement to receive the Tuition Fee Loan for your new course although you will remain eligible for the Maintenance Loan (for living costs) and any additional grants for dependents and disabilities, if applicable.

If SFE do not award you a Tuition Fee Loan to pay your tuition fees for any year of your new course, you will be liable to pay your own tuition fees instead.

There is an exception to this rule: If you did not complete your previous course because of compelling personal reasons, for example, illness or bereavement and you provide SFE with evidence of this when you apply for your student funding you can ask them to take this into account when assessing your funding entitlement. Student Finance England can, at their discretion, award one extra year of funding if they accept you left your last course because of valid compelling personal reasons. If you repeated any years of your previous course because of compelling personal reasons, you can also ask SFE to consider this and should provide them with evidence. Again, they can award additional year/s of funding on this basis if they accept your evidence. This can alter and increase your entitlement to the Tuition Fee Loan for a new course. You should read the information about funding for repeat years.

Contact student advice to discuss this before you start your course.

Note: If you previously studied on a part-time higher education course but did not obtain the qualification, this will be ignored and should not affect your funding entitlement for a new full-time degree course. Also, any course that you paid for yourself at an entirely private institution should also not count.

How will my funding be calculated?

Here is an example to show the level of funding you may be eligible to receive for a new three-year undergraduate course.

You studied one and a half years on a previous higher education course. This counts as two years of previous study. You left or transferred into the first year of the new course. 

The maximum number of years of Tuition Fee Loan available for a three year course is four years (the standard duration of the course plus one additional year).

Your two years of previous study are deducted from these four years, meaning that you have two years of Tuition Fee Loan left. (Remember that even if you studied for just one day on a course, it counts as one year of previous study under these rules.)

So, you will receive just two years of Tuition Fee Loan for your new course, which will cover the final two years of your course. For your first year, you will not receive the Tuition Fee Loan so will have to pay your own tuition fees. You will however receive the Maintenance Loan for the first year (and subsequent years) of your course and if applicable, grants for dependents or disability. 

Here's the calculation:

Normal duration of the new course plus one year (3+1) 4 years
Years or part years spent on previous course 2 years
Years of Tuition Fee Loan for new course (4-2) = 2 years

Using the same example, let’s say you had compelling personal reasons for leaving your last course, SFE accept these and they award you an extra year of Tuition Fee Loan. This would be awarded to fund your first year so you would receive full SFE funding for the normal three years of your new three-year degree course instead of just the last two years.

Note: If you have studied for a maximum of two years on a two-year Higher National Diploma (HND) or foundation degree course, you will only be eligible for two years of Tuition Fee Loan towards a new three-year degree course. As above, this will be available for the last two years of your course. So if you start in the first year, you’ll be liable to pay your own fees.

If you have more than two years' previous study, your Tuition Fee Loan entitlement will be reduced even further.

Contact student advice to discuss this before you start your course.