Student loans

The information in this guide was last updated on 26/02/2014

Taking out the loan

Student loans have changed in recent years, and the amount of interest has gone up. But don’t assume you can’t afford to go to university – you don't need to pay tuition fees up front, as the Student Loans Company pays your tuition for you.

Even if you can pay tuition fees upfront, it’s still worth considering if this is the best choice.

  • Student loans are a cheaper way to borrow money, even though rates are now higher than inflation.
  • Stretching your finances to afford tuition fees could get you into debt elsewhere – and student loans often have more favourable terms.

Paying back your student loan

Paying back your loan will depend on when you started higher education, and the type of student loan you have.

For anyone starting higher education after 2012:

  • The repayment amount for students in England and Wales is currently 9% of any earnings over £21,000 a year. (the threshold for Scotland and Ireland is to be confirmed) This £21,000 threshold is set according to average earnings, so it will be reviewed each year as UK average salaries change.
  • Once you're earning over £21,000, your employer should automatically deduct student loan payments from your pay.
  • If you're earning above the £21,000 threshold, it's your responsibility to make sure repayments begin- failure to do so could result in HMRC fines. See the Student Loans Company for more details.

Student grants

If your parents’ household income is less than £42,600, you could get a maintenance grant to pay for living expenses if you’re a full-time student living in England. Maintenance loans are also available for full-time students in England aged under 60.

Maintenance grants don’t need to be paid back, but if you get one, it will reduce the amount of maintenance loan you could receive.

Postgraduate work and funding

The Student Loans Company funds the PGCE and PGDE teacher training courses, but not other postgraduate work. You can apply to a funding body or research council for your postgraduate course, or look for awards and bursaries from employers, companies and charities. Find out more about funding postgraduate study.