The student loans system is slightly different in each individual country of the UK, having only ever been a student in Scotland I can only explain the Scottish system. You can apply for a student loan from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) if you are studying a higher education course, that is a Higher National Certificate or above.
The process of applying to SAAS is fairly simple, once you have your acceptance letter from College or University pick up a form from there, download one from the SAAS website or you can apply online. The majority of the form is fairly simple although the part about your income and if applicable your parent or guardian’s income is a little confusing. That is why I recommend going to your college or university and getting them to help you with the form.
You will have to provide proof of your income along with your parent or guardian’s income if appropriate, you will also have to provide proof of your identity, your birth certificate or passport will do and if I remember correctly they accept photocopies. Obviously you also have to send them a copy of your acceptance letter for your course.
You apply through SAAS for both your grant/bursary and your loan and they forward your application on to the Student Loans Company if you have applied for a loan. There are different types of loan you can apply for, an income assessed loan and a non income assessed loan. Personally I think you are better off applying for the income assessed loan as if you apply for the non income assessed loan you will only get that amount, if you apply for the income assessed loan you have to fill out more information but you may just get more money. Obviously this means you have more to pay back but since you don’t pay it back until you are earning in the region of fifteen thousand pounds a year, and your payments are related to your income you are, in my opinion better off getting as much of a loan as possible to get you through your studies and then you pay it back when you can afford it.
As soon as you have your acceptance letter and all the relevant information send your form away, SAAS are very busy and the later you send your form off the less chance there is of having your money by your course start date. As you apply for your tuition fees through SAAS you really want to make sure you have your funding sorted out before you start your course. Tip: send your form recorded delivery, I made the mistake of sending my form regular mail in my first year and when I hadn’t had my conformation letter within two weeks and I called to check it they said they hadn’t received it and I spend about another two weeks chasing it up.
Once you have your form sent away SAAS will send you a conformation letter within two weeks to let you know they have received it, then if they need additional information they will contact you again. Once your form has been processed SASS will inform you of what they are going to pay you for your tuition fees and bursary/grant and you will receive a separate letter from the Student Loans Company regarding any loans you have applied for. These letters will tell you the dates which you will receive your money and how much you will receive. There is also a conformation you must take to your college or university, get it signed and hand it in for them to send as conformation that you have started your course.
Provided there are no problems you will receive your money straight into your bank account on the dates indicated on the letter you received from SAAS and the SLC. Your tuition is paid directly to your college or university.