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Overview

You may be able to borrow money to help pay for university or college tuition fees and also help with living costs.

You might get extra money on top of this, for example if you’re on a low income, are disabled or have children.

before you apply

You will start paying the loan immediately you start earning over a certain amount. The amount of your monthly repayments will depend on how much you earn, not what you owe.

You pay back 9% of your income over the Plan 1 threshold (£372 a week or £1,615 a month). If your income is under the Plan 2 threshold (£511 a week or £2,214 a month), your repayments only go towards your Plan 1 loan. If your income is over the Plan 2 threshold, your repayments go towards both your loans

You’ll be charged interest on the loan from the day you take it out. The terms and conditions can change.

2020 to 2021 – Terms and conditions guide Download (PDF, 99KB)

2019 to 2020 – Terms and conditions guide Download  (PDF, 136KB)

The rules are different if your course started before September 2012.

You can read about the student the student finance policy on the  gov.uk to find out how the information you provide will be used.

how to apply for student loan

How you apply depends on whether you have studied before and your nationality.

All full-time undergraduate students are eligible for student finance, provided they meet some basic criteria:

you’re a UK national or have settled status, normally live in your home country, and have been living in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man for three years before the beginning of your course.

you’re studying a recognised full-time course e.g. a first degree, a foundation degree, a Higher National Diploma (HND), or an initial Teacher Training course

you’re studying at a recognised publicly-funded university or college (or a private institution studying a course approved for public funding)

you can still get some funding if you’ve studied a HE course before, but it will be limited and you’ll have to make up any shortfall. 

Continuing students from England

You’re a continuing student if you are:

  • moving on to the next year of your course
  • repeating a year of the same course or returning to a course after taking time out
  • transferring onto a new course from your old course

repayment is 9% of everything earned above £26,575 – anything less you don't repay

Once you leave university, you only repay when you’re earning above £2,214 a month (equivalent to £26,575 a year) and then it’s fixed at 9% of everything you earn above that. This salary threshold will increase to £27,295 from April 2021. (NB: For Scottish students, the threshold where repayments start is £19,390 in 2020/21.)

any and all remaining debt is wiped after 30 year

The loan can be cleared either when you’ve cleared the debt, or when 30 years (from the April after graduation) have passed, whichever comes first. If you never get a job earning over the threshold, it means you won’t have repaid a penny.

This is one of the reasons that those who are near retirement, who don’t have a degree and want one, find it very appealing as unless they’ve a huge pension, they know they’ll never have to repay.

Many people earning over £26,575 will never pay it all back within the 30 years

Many people earning over the £26,575 threshold (£27,295 from April 2021) will never pay back their student debt within the 30 years. And lower earners won’t repay very much at all. 

So for many people what they borrow is irrelevant – they’ll just keep paying monthly until the debt is scrubbed after 30 years. This is one reason why talk of £50,000 debts is nonsense for most.

Part-timers and post-grads can get loans for tuition fees too

Part-time students, often forgotten, make up 40% of all undergraduates. Fees start at around £4,500 with a maximum of £6,935 in 2020/21.

Yet since 2012, for the first time, part-time students studying at least 25% of a full-time course have been eligible for tuition-fee Student Loans Company loans on exactly the same basis as full-time students.

And if your course starts on or after 1 August 2018, you are also eligible for maintenance loans or grants as well – although students over 60 don’t qualify.

Postgraduate students

New master’s students can apply for a master’s loan from the Student Loans Company to pay for their courses. These only need repaying if they earn enough once the course ends. Students starting from August 2020 can apply for up to £11,222.

New students studying on a doctoral level are eligible to apply for the doctoral loan. Like the master’s loan, it only needs to be repaid if they earn above the threshold. Students starting from August 2020 can apply for up to £26,445.

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