10 Key Online Resources for Student Finance - dummies

10 Key Online Resources for Student Finance

By Phil Davis

Using online resources for student finance is not necessarily as straightforward as you might think at first. For example, private finance companies promote their services to make them more prominent – so doing an internet search for a ‘student loan’ doesn’t necessarily bring up the government’s scheme as the first result.

However, online resources can provide convenient, clear, and accurate information, advice and guidance. They can serve as a great ‘self-help’ tool, empowering you to resolve questions or issues which you have regarding your funding.

Here are ten useful and trustworthy resources with some background information about each, including what you can find on each site.


Gov.UK is the number one website to visit for information about student finance for higher education, primarily because your student finance application is likely to start here. The information on gov.uk tends to be quite brief and doesn’t go into too much detail – but it serves as a useful introduction to student finance.

Even if you’re on an NHS funded course, including Social Work, you can still apply for some form of statutory student finance – and the site also includes information about the funding available specifically for NHS, Social Work and Teaching courses.

Applications for student finance usually open around February for the following September. Bookmark this site and familiarise yourself with it so you have it to hand – you’ll probably use it to apply for funding for each year of your course (one year at a time).

The site includes links to all the agencies assessing student finance applications throughout the UK: Student Finance England, Student Finance Northern Ireland (the Education and Library Boards), Student Awards Agency Scotland, and Student Finance Wales. The respective websites for these agencies are

The Student Room

The Student Room is an extensive online forum where you can discuss every aspect of study with other students (and prospective students). Due to the popularity of the site, Student Finance England (SFE) has developed an extensive information resource there. This also includes links to information for student finance for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The government’s own website is quite restrictive in terms of the content it can host, so SFE have really gone to town in terms of developing interactive content for you to engage with. They’re particularly fond of creating brief informative videos for you to watch.

The site is easy to navigate and includes links to many of the official quick guides, factsheets and main guides published by SFE.

The National Union of Students

The National Union of Students (NUS) is a membership organisation for students. The NUS operates through a national network of Students’ Unions representing student issues, often through high profile campaigns.

The ‘Advice’ section of the NUS website includes information on ‘money and funding’. This includes tips on budgeting, together with a detailed overview of the funding available nationally for a variety of courses. It also includes links to further resources.

Advice from the NUS is impartial, and this makes it a useful, professional resource. The level of detail in the NUS’s articles makes it a really useful resource and can assist in providing answers to more complex questions you may have.

Brightside Student Calculator

Brightside is a charity focused on assisting young people to realise their potential through education and career choices.

This handy tool gives you an indication of how much student finance you can expect to receive for your course. After completing a couple of pages of straightforward questions, the calculator gives you an overview of the items of student finance you may be entitled to, together with indicative amounts.

The calculator also includes a section where you can assess what you will need to spend your money on, and after comparing this with your income, it gives an indication of how healthy your financial situation is overall.

By registering with the site, you can keep a record of your results and update them later in order to monitor your financial situation over time.

Brightside Student Parents

The Student Parents site is another on-line resource from Brightside. This site gives an overview of the student finance system, but also includes advice and guidance regarding the availability of benefits and Tax Credits.

If you have children and you’re studying, or you’re disabled and employed during your studies, be sure to check your entitlement to benefits and Tax Credits, as they can currently form part of your financial entitlement during study.

The Tax Credits calculator site also includes links to information about claiming Tax Credits via the Tax Credits Helpline.

StepChange Debt Charity

StepChange aims to be recognised as the most trusted provider of free debt advice and solutions.

StepChange’s services are not solely focused on the world of students but they’re fully aware of the money difficulties students can face. To this end, they produce a debt advice guide aimed at students giving advice and guidance around budgeting and good money management.

The StepChange website includes a helpful section on budgeting, as well as a section giving a useful overview of various strategies that can be used to overcome debt problems. The website also includes a self help debt tool, or you can phone StepChange’s advice line on 0800 138 1111 for free, confidential, and impartial advice.

Low Income Tax Reform Group

The Low Income Tax Reform Group is a great resource from this educational charity. The site includes information about paying income tax whilst you study (including how to get a tax rebate if you pay too much), tax credits, and how student loan repayments work.

The team behind this website have really come up trumps thinking about all the ways students interact with the tax system – so you can rely on this site for informative guidance on any tax related issue whilst you study.

Gov.UK Professional Careers Development Loans

If you are interested in applying for, or seeking more information about a Professional Career Development Loan, you need to contact the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900. This government website provides introductory information on the scheme.

Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service is a government backed initiative offering free advice on money issues. They have developed an extensive on-line student-facing resource with a range of information and tips concerning student finance, and money management.

The website includes an online budgeting tool, as well as specific tips on managing whilst on a lower income. The site includes interactive features, such as informative videos.


Turn2us is a national charity offering on-line advice and guidance on welfare benefits, and charitable grants. It also provides a helpline service.

This well set out and accessible website includes a bespoke benefit calculator for full-time and part-time students, as well as a grant search facility.