Everything you need to know about funding in Scotland

For anyone who lives in Scotland or thinking about studying in Scotland this blog will tell you everything you need to know about the funding that is available.

In Scotland there are sixteen universities including the Open University, and an additional three institutions of higher education. 

Is university free in Scotland?

In a word, yes. But ONLY if you’re a student from Scotland or the EU. 

Scottish university fees are covered by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) which means you don’t have to pay anything towards your tuition. 

If you’re a student from the rest of the UK or outside of the EU, you will have to pay up to £9,250 per year which is the cost to study in England, plus an additional year as degrees in Scotland take four years to complete as opposed to three years in England.


What are the differences between Scottish funding and funding in England?

Scotland England
  • Most degrees take four years to complete
  • Degrees take 3 years to complete
  • Students from Scotland and the EU can study for free
  • Students must pay a total of £9,250 per year which can differ if you study at drama school
  • Students can begin their degree at the age of 17
  • Students begin their degree at the age of 18
  • Students receive monthly payments directly to their bank account from their student loan
  • Students get three payments throughout the year from their student loan which they must make last until they receive their next instalment



  • In both Scotland and England, first-time students can get a loan to pay for university so they don’t need to pay upfront. This is known as a student loan
  • You can receive an extra student loan to cover your living costs
  • Of course you must try and pay back your student loan, but if it hasn’t been paid off after 30 years, it is written off


How will I repay my student loan? 

When you have a job, a small amount of your wages is automatically taken to pay back your student loan over a period of time. If you’re earning up £18,935 per year minimum, 9% of your annual income is paid back direct to the Student Loans Company (SLC). The more you earn the more you’ll pay towards repaying your student loan. You don’t need to worry about arranging this yourself, it is taken before you receive your monthly wages. 


If I moved to Scotland do I have to pay for further education?

SAAS guidelines state: “You must be ordinarily resident in Scotland on the first day of the first academic year of the course.”

This doesn’t mean you can move to Scotland the day before your course begins. This means you must live in Scotland permanently full-time only leaving for holidays. However, there is no time frame on this!


Student loans facts

  • The student loan you receive is based on your household income (see chart below)
  • If you don’t provide any income details you will still receive the minimum of £4,750 per year
  • The student loan is paid monthly directly into your bank account
Household income Loan Bursary Total
£0 - £20,999 £5,750 £2,000 £7,750
£21,000 - £23,999 £5,750 £1,125 £6,875
£24,000 - £33,999 £5,750 £500 £6,250
£34,000+ £4,750 £0 £4,750


Bursary facts

  • You don’t have to pay the money back you receive from bursaries
  • How much you receive depends on whether or not you’re classed as a Young Student or an Independent Student
  • Young Student - under the age of 25 and not married or financially self-sufficient
  • Independent Student - receive £875 a year if their household income is under £18,999 (see chart above). An Independent student is someone who has reached the age of 25 before the start of the academic year and you have supported yourself from earnings or benefits outside full-time education for at least three years
  • The money received from a bursary is paid directly into your bank account in instalments

Part-time students aren’t eligible for funding to cover living costs.


Other than student loans and bursaries, what other sources of funding are available?



Published: 3 February 2020

Photo: Alex Brenner

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