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sound advice on student finance
The spectre of student finance can loom large. It can dominate your thoughts and generally get in the way of student life, whether you're starting at uni later this year or continuing your studies. Happily, it doesn't have to be a headache: here's some info to help banish those worries, with input from the team at Student Finance Wales.

Most students won't have to pay up front

Chances are you won't need to hand over your tuition fee from your own pocket before you're allowed anywhere on campus. You'll be able to apply for loans (which have to be paid back) to meet some of the costs of studying, and if you're a Welsh student studying in the UK you can also apply for a Tuition Fee Grant from Student Finance Wales. The grant (which doesn’t have to be paid back) can help cover the remaining costs of your tuition fees.

The exact amount you'll be eligible for depends on the uni you're going to and how much it charges. You can find out more from Student Finance Wales, which has lots of helpful advice and guidance and handy tools like a student finance calculator to help you crunch the numbers.

You can sort it all out on screen

The earlier you sort out your student finances, the better: it means the money you need can be ready for the start of your course, so there won't be any troublesome holes in your bank account just when you don't need them. Applications are now open, so get started today!

Depending on the funding you're applying for you might need to send information about yourself, and your parents or partner may need to send some info too. Not to worry: you can take care of everything quickly and simply online.

You don't even need to have a place at uni yet to apply: just put down your first choice, and you can fill in (or change) the final details once you have them.

Please note: New students should apply by 16 May to guarantee they have their money in place for the start of their course.

Continuing students should apply by 6 June to guarantee they have their money in place for the start of their course.

So get started now!

Other help is available

As well as tuition fees, uni costs can come in the form of food, accommodation, and of course having a nice time (which is a fine upstanding part of the student tradition). Support is available in the form of Maintenance Loans, grants and bursaries – what you're entitled to will depend on your circumstances, family income and so on. There's more help and lots of information on the Student Finance Wales site.

There's also more help available if you have children or adults who depend on you financially, or if you have a disability, mental-health condition or other long-term health issue or learning difficulty. Again, Student Finance Wales has more info.A group of students

You don't have to repay right away

Some financial support – such as a Fee Grant or bursary – won't need to be paid back. Ever. Good news! Loans, on the other hand, will need to be repaid at some point. But there's good news on that front, too: you won't need to start your repayments the moment you put your pen down at the end of your final exam.

Instead, you'll only start paying back in instalments once you've graduated and your income is over £21,000 a year. To get an idea of how it all breaks down, the Student Finance Website has a useful repayment calculator tool that will tell you more about how much your repayments might be and how long it might take to repay.

There's plenty of advice and support available

Some aspects of student finance may be complicated (who's for a repayment interest calculating algorithm?), but one area that's pleasingly simple is getting more information and guidance. The Student Finance Wales website has FAQs and guides to assist you, and you can meet the team in the flesh at UCAS conventions for a face to face chat about student finance.

You can also keep track of things via Facebook and Twitter. It's a good way of making sure you don't miss any application deadlines, or for help during Clearing, should you need it.

The key thing is not to let student finance haunt your uni preparation (or ongoing studies). Engage with it now, get the support you need, and you can get back to enjoying your student life.

Lastly, we said it earlier but don't forget! Apply online now!

New students should apply by 16 May to guarantee they have their money in place for the start of their course.

Continuing students should apply by 6 June to guarantee they have their money in place for the start of their course.