Student loans in the UK are generally arranged through the Student Loans Company (SLC) and are there to help pay university fees, books and equipment, and also accommodation if necessary. Student loans are specially created for this purpose and differ significantly from other loans regarding repayment schedules and interest rates.
Once student loans are granted and received, interest rates immediately apply and will begin to accumulate, although repayments are not required to begin until the beginning of the first tax year after the completion of education, or after the student ceases studying for whatever reason. In 1998 the law changed so that repayments are collected according to the borrower’s income; for instance if the income is less than stated thresholds then repayments are not required until incomes improve. The thresholds presently are £15,000 for the tax year of 2011 to 2012, and £21,000 in the tax year 2012 to 2013.
Loans will be void if the borrower should die or become permanently disabled and unable to work, or in some cases the loans will have a fixed term (generally 30 years) after which the loan may be cancelled.
Aside from tuition fee loans, a maintenance loan may be available to full-time students to help them pay accommodation and living costs. The tuition fee loan will be paid directly to the university or teaching establishment and will cover every year of the required courses, except possibly in the case of private colleges or universities that may have extra fees outside of those covered by government student loans. Maintenance loans are paid into the full-time student’s bank account at the beginning of each term of the course, and the amount of the loan will depend upon a number of factors: geographical location, family’s total income (student plus parents or partner), which year of study is attended, and what aid is already being received, if any, from maintenance grants. It is also possible to apply for a 65% maintenance loan without having the rest of the family’s income included.
Students are advised to contact Student Finance England for details on the different rates for new students and final year students, and for different parts of the country to discover the exact rate that applies to them. Student loans are created to help young people study for their ideal career and to pay back the loan after they begin to reap the benefits of their studies. Terms and interest rates are calculated with this in mind.