The UCAS student finances page that the undergraduate tuition fee loan is paid directly to the insititution.

Tuition fee loans, to cover the full cost of your course, are paid directly to the course provider, and you won’t have to pay it back until after your course, when you’re earning above a certain level.

And that you do not have to have a confirmed offer before applying for the loan.

Applications for courses starting in 2021 will open early 2021, for a loan to cover tuition fees (paid directly to the university) and maintenance costs (paid directly into your bank account at the start of term). This is available wherever you choose to study in the UK, and is repayable. You don’t need to have a confirmed offer of a place at uni to start the process.

How does this work in practice? As a student I have a first and second choice institution, both offers are grade dependent. Do I apply for two separate loans for each institution and wait to see which offer I accept?

  • I applied in 2013 so this is testing my memory a bit, but I think you only need to apply for one loan, which will then be paid to whichever university you eventually go to (as tuition fees are virtually the same everywhere). However, things might have changed, so you could always email UCAS or Student Finance England to check. Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 6:17

2 Answers 2


You apply for a student loan for yourself, not in relation to any particular course.

Once you register for the course at the university where you have a confirmed place it triggers the release of your loan and maintenance payment. It is normal for students to have a first choice and second choice university through UCAS. That is how it works.

If you do not get a place or do not start a university course then no loan money is paid to you or the university.

Yes: you do need a confirmed offer to start the process, but that does not need to be the university you eventually go to, as you may go elsewhere through clearing.


  1. Apply to several universities and courses of your choice through UCAS
  2. Hopefully get some offers back
  3. Choose an offer as first choice and one as second choice
  4. Apply for a student loan
  5. Wait for the exam results (if applicable)
  6. If rejected by your first and second choice, apply to clearing
  7. When a university place is found, await their student registration process
  8. Register and get your student card
  9. Your loan is activated

If a confirmed offer is not required, then step 4 happens after step 1, otherwise no different!

Hopefully that is clearer?


I am familiar with the process for postgraduate taught degres. For that case if you wanted the tuition fees to be directly paid to the university you would have to have secured the loan and finished the actual process before being officially enrolled, but accepted an offer. Then the funds would be directly paid to the university. As a result, it would require that you have an offer and a UK bank account at most by August.

However, tuition fee loans can also be paid to your personal account and then you can transfer the money to the university by using the payment methods they provide.

The admissions office of your university could provide further info and are generally really helpful (from personal experience).

  • This is for an undergraduate course, so it is likely to be a bit different, but thanks for the suggestion of the admissions office.
    – Jontia
    Commented Jul 3, 2021 at 15:07

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