Note, the below refers to Welsh students studying a full-time degree course in Wales based on what we know for new students in the 2019/20 academic year (unless otherwise stated).
How much are tuition fees in Wales?
Welsh students studying a full-time degree course can be charged up to £9,000 a year in tuition fees by universities and colleges in their home country.
However, if you're a Welsh student and you choose to study in England, Northern Ireland or Scotland, the maximum fee you could pay rises to £9,250 a year.
What student finance can you get in Wales?
You'll be eligible for student finance in Wales, provided you meet some basic criteria:
- You're a UK national (or have 'settled status), normally live in Wales, and have been living in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for the three years prior to your course start date;
- You're applying to a recognised, publicly funded university or college (or your course is approved for funding by the Welsh Government);
- Your course leads to a first degree (eg BA, BSc or BEd) or one of those outlined on the Student Finance Wales website.
- You’re under the age of 60 years old on the first day of your course.
Tuition fee loan
You can take out a tuition fee loan to cover your tuition fees in full, upfront. This is paid directly to your institution which means you don’t have to worry too much about these until after you graduate.
Maintenance loan and Welsh Government Learning Grant
Financial support for living costs (eg accommodation, transport, food etc) for Welsh students boils down to a maintenance loan and a Welsh Government Learning Grant (WGLG) – the loan must be repaid, but the grant doesn’t.
Students in similar circumstances get the same amount in total. The key difference is the ratio of grant-to-loan you get, which is dictated by household income – students from lower income households are eligible to receive a higher grant (and therefore less in loan), and vice versa.
Students living at home can get a maximum total maintenance package of £7,840 per year; those living away from home but outside of London can get up to £9,225; and those living in London can get up to £11,530.
See below how these maximum amounts break down according to household income:
Whatever you receive in maintenance support is paid into your bank account at the start of each term.
How much will you need to live on per month at university? Find out quickly with our student budget calculator, personalised to you.
Special Support Grant
Welsh students in particular circumstances may also be eligible for a Special Support Grant (SSG) – this doesn’t need to be paid back either.
However, unlike the Welsh Government Learning Grant above, the SSG doesn’t impact how much you can receive in maintenance loan (and in some cases, you may be able to receive both grants).
Students who qualify for the SSG can get up to £5,161. Common criteria to qualify include being a single parent, or where you and your partner are both students and one/both of you are responsible for a child. See the full eligibility criteria on the Student Finance Website.
Extra support for personal circumstances in Wales
Like in England, if you’re in full-time higher education in Wales and you have children or adult dependants, there are (non-repayable) grants available.
To help with childcare costs for full-time students. These are worth either 85% of your childcare costs or a fixed amount (up to £161.50 per week if you have one child, up to £274.55 per week if you have two or more), whichever is less.
Parents’ Learning Allowance
To help with learning costs (eg books, transport) if you’re a full-time student with children. This is worth up to £1,557 per year, but your household income, marital status and number of children will be assessed to decide how much you’re entitled to exactly.
Adult Dependants’ Grant
If you have an adult who depends on you financially, you can apply for this grant worth up to £2,732 per year.
Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs)
If you have a physical disability, mental health condition or learning difficulty that impacts you as a student, you can receive extra financial help. You’ll need to undergo a needs assessment to figure out what equipment and support you’ll need (this isn’t assessed according to household income).
Full-time students who require specialist equipment can get an allowance of up to £5,657 (for their whole course); up to £22,472 per year for a non-medical helper allowance; and a general allowance of up to £1,894 per year.
DSAs are either paid directly to you or the provider of the service or equipment you require.
Other sources of further support include hardship funds if you run into financial problems while studying, and scholarships and bursaries. Learn more about these sources of extra funding.
What’s up for grabs will vary depending on the provider, as will the process to get them – but they can make a big difference if you’re successful and are well worth looking into.
In fact, 36% of Welsh students we spoke to told us that they were successful in applying for a bursary or scholarship from their university or an organisation. This was slightly higher than students in England (25%)*.
How do I apply for student finance in Wales?
You can apply for student finance online via the Student Finance Wales website.
It’s recommended that you get your application in by early June to ensure you receive your finance in time for the start of your course. You can apply after this time (up to nine months after the start of your course, in fact) but you’ll have to cover any costs and expenses until you receive your finance.
How do student loan repayments work in Wales?
The Welsh repayment system works the same way as it does in England – learn more about what you’ll repay and when, plus how interest works.
However, one key difference worth noting is that full-time students who’ve received a maintenance loan from Student Finance Wales (since 2010/11) can get up to £1,500 cancelled, when you make your first repayment. This is called the ‘Welsh partial loan cancellation’.
Note, that this is a one-off cancellation and you can’t get this if you have any outstanding charges, costs, expenses or penalties in relation to your loan or if you’ve breached your loan agreement.
Now you know the basics of Welsh student finance – including tuition fees and how the combination of maintenance loans and grants work – figure out which money holes you’ll need to plug.
Our free student budget calculator gives you a personalised costs breakdown in seconds.
About our research
* Which? University Student Survey, conducted by YouthSight on behalf of Which?, surveying 3,874 undergraduate students at UK universities between 20 March and 12 April 2019.