Previous studies

Previous study and the effect on Student Finance England funding

This information applies to undergraduate students starting their degress course in September 2016 only.

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

If this is the first time you have studied on a full-time higher education course, providing you meet the Student Finance England (SFE) general eligibility rules you will be entitled to receive full SFE funding for the standard length of your course plus one extra year.

If you have 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 are not eligible for the Tuition Fee Loan you will have to pay your own tuition fees for some or all of the course.  However, it will not affect your entitlement to receive a part-time Student Finance England Tuition Fee Loan for a part-time undergraduate degree level 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 are not eligible for the Tuition Fee Loan you will have to pay your own tuition fees for some or all of the course. It will not affect your entitlement to receive a part-time Student Finance England Tuition Fee Loan for a part-time undergraduate degree level course.

If you already hold a qualification that is equivalent to a UK Honours degree or higher this will affect your entitlement to receive Student Finance England funding for your new course. You will not be entitled to a Tuition Fee loan for a new full-time or part-time course so will have to pay the course tuition fee yourself. An exception is in place for RIBA Part 2 Architecture students - If you completed your undergraduate degree in Architecture and are progressing onto RIBA Part 2, your degree qualification does not exempt you from receiving any SFE loans. A few other exceptions are in place and these are explained later on this page.  

Note: The above applies whether you attended or obtained your qualification in the UK or in a different country.

Will I be eligible for Student Finance England (SFE) funding?

To qualify for funding from Student Finance England (SFE), you must meet the general eligibility rules. However, even if you meet these rules, if you have studied on a higher education course in the past (whether in the UK or abroad), your entitlement to funding for a new full-time undergraduate degree course will be affected.

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. There is an exception if you study on the three year Architecture course which allows you to continue to be eligible for this.
  • 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 be eligible to receive the grants for dependants if their income is low enough.
  • These rules also apply to MSci or MEng courses.

If you have previously studied on a higher education course but you did not complete it or you obtained a higher education qualification below degree level eg an ordinary degree, HND or HNC, your funding entitlement will be reduced and you may have to pay your own tuition fees for some or all of your course. This is explained in more detail below.

Please note that the rules are complicated and the information below is a basic summary only.

Part-time undergraduate students
The SFE part-time Tuition Fee Loan is available for a first undergraduate degree only. You will not qualify if you already hold a qualification at the same level or higher. If you are a disabled student, you may be eligible for the Disabled Students' Allowance.

Full-time undergraduate students only
You will not be entitled to receive any SFE funding except the grants for dependants or disability. You will not qualify for a Tuition Fee Loan to pay any of your course tuition fees so you will be liable to pay the course tuition fee yourself for each year of your course.

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.

Contact Student Advice to discuss this before you start your course.

SFE funding entitlement for full-time 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” and can be used to fund a repeat year of study.

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, even if you only attended for one day, the number of years (or part-years) you attended is deducted and 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 that one day’s attendance on a course counts as one year of study under these rules.

Previous study reduces entitlement to recieve the Tuition Fee Loan for your new course although you will remain eligible for the Maintenance Laon (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 normal funding for your new course covers 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 funding 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 funding for your new course, which will cover the final two years of your studies.  the funding is always awarded this way and is never awarded to the first year. For the 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. You cannot rely on using this loan to pay some of your course tuition fee because the Maintenance Loan is paid to you in three instalments that do not match the University fee payment dates.

Here's the calculation:

Duration of the new course plus one year (3+1) 4 years
Years or part years spent on previous course 2 years
Full funding for new course (4-2) = 2 years
   
Entitlement: 2 years of Tuition Fee loan to cover the final two years of your course. You will only receive the Maintenance Loan for the first year of your new course and will have to pay your own tuition fees. Remember that if applicable you can recieve the grants for disability and/or dependants for the duration of your course.  

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 and Maintenance/Special Support Grant. 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 be eligible for two years of funding 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 funding entitlement will be reduced even further.

Contact Student Advice to discuss this before you start your course.

Part–time undergraduate students who have previously studied on a higher education course but did not complete it or achieved a qualification below the level of a UK Honours degree

The part-time Tuition Fee Loan is available for a maximum of 16 years. The number of years available to you depends on the intensity of your study. Any previous part-time study on a part-time higher education course will reduce your entitlement to the Tuition Fee Loan for your new course.

Please contact Student Advice for further information.

The Disabled Students' Allowance is not affected and you will continue to receive this if applicable.

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