General advice on funding your architectural studies
How will you fund the costs associated with studying architecture? This includes:
- tuition costs
- cost of living, such as accommodation and everyday expenses
- field trips
- material costs
It is important to discuss these costs with your family and support network before you start studying.
A clear idea of where the funding will come from (Parents, scholarships or even part time work) will ensure that you are financially prepared for your studies.
The RIBA offers funding opportunities via grants, bursaries, trusts and awards, open to applications from students throughout various points of their education.
Most students don’t need to pay their tuition fees upfront, as these should be covered by a tuition fee loan. Maintenance loans are also available to help with living costs. These loans accrue interest and the repayments are contingent on your future income. Additionally, depending on the university you study at, and your family income, you may be entitled to apply for grants and bursaries that you do not need to repay.
Cost of Living
The cost of living will vary depending on the location of your university and lifestyle.
You should research the cost of living associated with your prospective universities. Some useful search terms are ’living costs at xyz university’ and ‘the cost of living as a student in xyz university’.
The cost of Studying
Below are some useful websites to assist you with budgeting your living costs:
- Student Calculator and NASMA
- The cost of Studying (NUS)
- Advice from The Money Saving Expert
- Budgeting and debt management
The RIBA has also conducted a biennial survey on student finances which you may find useful
Additional costs associated with studying architecture
You will need to budget annually for printing, materials, travel for site visits and field trips. These additional costs will vary depending on what school you attend. In order to be financially prepared, it is advisable that you speak to the school in regards to the expected additional spend per year.
Student finances available if you live in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island
Any full-time student for whom their Part 1 degree is their first course of Higher Education* is eligible to apply for tuition fee and maintenance loan funding for both their Part 1 and Part 2, which are viewed as a single course (subject to various conditions) if studied on a full-time basis, even if the student is additionally awarded a postgraduate degree (such as an M.Arch) and as long as the content of Part 2 is undergraduate level and undergraduate fees are charged.
Current student support regulations permit students to change institutions between the Part 1 and Part 2 stages. However, students should research their funding entitlements carefully if they are considering (but not limited to) any of these further options:
- changing their mode of study (e.g. from full-time to part-time study)
- taking more than three academic years out between Part 1 and Part 2
- undertaking a specialist Masters programme after Part 1, prior to starting Part 2
Any of these actions could limit the funding that a student is entitled to apply for, and could also affect the level of tuition fee they are expected to pay.
The relevant legislation is the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2011
Students enrolled with their universities as 'year-out' students between their Parts 1 and 2, for example on a 'sandwich' programme, may be entitled to apply for student loans for that year, even if they are undertaking paid practical experience. Students should seek advice from Student Finance England and from their student services department.
Full-time students can also apply for a Maintenance Loan to help with their living costs. The exact amount a student can borrow will depend on various criteria, but the maximum amounts available can be found on the student finance pages at Gov.uk
To be considered as a continuing student and remain on the same student finance package, Part 2 must be undertaken no more than three academic years after completing Part 1. For example, a student who completed Part 1 in July 2013, takes a break of three academic years and starts Part 2 in September 2016, would usually be treated as being on a single course. However, students who are considering undertaking specialist postgraduate programmes should check with the relevant authorities as to the effect this may have on their eligibility for continued funding.
Part-time students for whom Part 1 is their first degree and who started their course from 2012 onwards are entitled to apply for a tuition fee loan for their Part 1 degree and can find further information on the student finance pages at Gov.uk. In the Spending Review Autumn Statement in 2015, the government announced the intention to introduce new part-time maintenance loans from 2018-19 to support the cost of living while studying. Further information will be provided in due course.
The single course provision in the Education (Student Support) Regulations applies only where both parts of the architecture course are undertaken on a full-time basis. Students that study Part 1 full-time and then plan to do Part 2 on a part-time basis, or indeed study both parts on a part-time basis, cannot be treated as being on a single course and would not be entitled to apply for tuition fee or maintenance loans for their Part 2 studies. Your Part 1 degree will also be taken into account in relation to the level of tuition fees that you pay, as your fee level will be unregulated, meaning your university can set their own fee level. This means that higher fees may well be payable. However, as of 2016/17, students may be eligible for a Postgraduate Loan for a Part 2 Master of Architecture course where they are ineligible for undergraduate support for this course, for example where the Master of Architecture course is studied on a part-time basis. Please refer to the policy summary for more information.
Funding for studying abroad
Student studying on a course at a UK university or college who study outside the UK as part of their course can apply for full student finance. In addition, there are some special provisions for them if they're studying for at least the majority of a term abroad.
Options available if you normally live in Wales, Scotland and Northern Island
Please see the websites bellow for information relevant to your living situation.
Equivalent or lower qualifications (ELQs) - do you already have a degree?
The provision of student funding is generally focussed on those students studying a higher education qualification for the first time. Therefore, if you already hold a degree, in some circumstances you may be assessed as an ELQ student, meaning you already hold an equivalent or lower level qualification. Under the Education (Student Support) Regulations, you may not be entitled to financial support such as tuition fee and maintenance loans, although some exceptions are made for students studying architecture, and more details can be found below. Furthermore, the level of tuition fee that you pay may be unregulated, meaning you could be charged at a higher level by your university.
You may be classed as an ELQ student if (but not limited to):
- you have completed your Part 1 on a full-time basis, but subsequently change your mode of study to part-time for your Part 2
- you have completed Part 1 on a part-time basis and subsequently wish to undertake your Part 2
- you undertook a specialist Masters course between Part 1 and Part 2
- you hold a degree already in a different subject, but subsequently wish to study architecture
In the first two circumstances, you are unlikely to be eligible for any further student support, and you will need to self-finance your studies.
However, exceptionally, if you already hold a degree but wish to study architecture on a full-time basis, or in some circumstances if you undertook a specialist Masters between Part 1 and Part 2, the Education (Student Support) Regulations permit you to apply for a maintenance loan during both your Part 1 and Part 2 studies. However, you will need to pay for your tuition fees yourself, and the fee level will be unregulated.
You should seek further advice from Student Finance England.
Changes of circumstances and over-payments by the student loans company
If it becomes clear following an application for funding or following a reassessment of circumstances that an individual student has been incorrectly awarded student funding, then the Student Loans Company is entitled to withdraw funding and has a statutory duty to recover this money. This is the case even if the student had originally been informed they were eligible for support. Regulations 117-119 of the Education (Student Support) Regulations are the relevant references. The recovery of the overpaid amount will be conducted on a case by case basis.
The student finance application process requires students to sign a declaration to agree that they will repay any over-payment.