Student Loans Availability for All Courses

Loans are available from the government via the Student Loans Company (SLC) to help pay tuition fees and living expenses.

The rate of interest is still competitive, although rising as inflation increases. It's the calculation of RPI plus 3%. See below for more information and historical data.

None of the loans provided now is means-tested although you may need to produce details of the income of your household including yours for maintenance loans.

Student Loan Availability

There are two types of Higher Education Loans available for students:

  • Student loans for tuition fees - This type of loan is available to students who need a loan in order to pay their College or University tuition fees. You can apply for up to the total cost of your fees each year.
  • Student loans for maintenance - This loan is available to students who need additional financial support towards the cost of accommodation, food, clothes and travel.

Tuition Fee Loans

The standard loan the majority of students have is for tuition fees. The money is paid directly to your university or college and repaid once you start work depending on your salary.

Below are the amounts you can borrow each year.

Student Type2016/ 72017/ 8
Full-time at a private institution£6,000£6,165

Student Maintenance Loans

In addition to loans for tuition fees, there's help for full-time students with living expenses in the form of maintenance loans and grants.

Maintenance loans are available to help with living costs and accrue interest at a rate linked to the level of inflation.

The loan is repayable only after you leave your course and start earning more than £17,495 a year. (See below about repaying loans). The money is paid directly into your bank account.

Student Type2016/ 72017/ 8
Living at home£6,904£7,097
Living away from home, outside London£8,200£8,430
Living away from home, in London£10,702£11,002
You spend a year of a UK course studying abroad£9,391£9,654

The maintenance grant is no longer available.

How Much Can You Borrow?

The figures above show the current limits, and it's best to borrow the maximum amount and put it in a high-interest savings account and draw out what you need when you need it. This strategy means you can earn a little interest which always helps against bills you may have. Although the loan interest is high now, read on to the point below.

If you don't take the full amount in one year, you can't backdate your claims, and you never know what you may need. Then, you may have to get more expensive loans like credit cards which are the worst form of debt on the market.

Repaying Student Loans

Your student loan repayments begin once you start work, depend on your income and the repayment threshold. If you earn less than this threshold, you're not required to repay any part of the loan, although interest continues to accrue. Once over the repayment threshold, you repay a percentage of the amount you earn over this amount until you clear the loan.

The current threshold is £17,495 per year with most payments are collected through the PAYE tax system and paid directly back to the student loans company on your behalf. Any disability-related benefits you receive will not be counted towards the £17,495 threshold, even if they are taxable. If you get a disability-related benefit and are permanently unfit for work, the SLC will cancel your loan.

You pay back 9% of anything you earn over the threshold. Any debt outstanding after 30 years is wiped clean. Check your loan repayments online with our handy calculator.

Interest Rates

The interest rate and repayment rates are split into two divisions because the loans system changed recently.

  • Plan A loans that were taken out before 1 September 2012 have a fixed interest rate of 1.25% until further notice.
  • Plan B loans that were taken out after this date have interest rates of RPI (Retail Price Index) plus 3%.
  • Once your course finishes, the rate of interest is on a sliding scale depending on your income. If you earn £21,000 per year, your rate is just RPI.
  • If you don't notify the SLC of your income, you'll pay the top rate.

Historical Interest Rates

1/9/12 - 31/8/133.6%3%6.6%
1/9/13 - 31/8/143.3%3%6.3%
1/9/14 - 31/8/152.5%3%5.5%
1/9/15 - 31/8/160.9%3%3.9%
1/9/16 - 31/8/171.6%3%4.6%
1/9/17 - 31/8/183.1%3%6.1%

The Student Loans Company

The Student Loans Company was set up to administer loans to UK students. At the beginning it was easy, but as with most Government funded schemes, it's now extremely complicated.

Ordinarily, student loans are available to those entering higher education at university or college to help them meet their living costs while studying. The loans are fixed at a low interest rate and issued by the Government through the Student Loans Company; for most students, they act as the primary source of financial support (although some parents might argue otherwise). Once your course has finished, and you're earning enough money, you have to start to repay your loan.

You won't need to pay back any of the loan during your years at university only once you have got a job paying over a certain amount of money. If you choose to go into one of the professions such as nursing or teaching, then you have additional time to begin to pay the loan back (because these jobs don't pay very much and are more of a vocation).

If you have no joy with the SLC then try other providers including UK banks and building societies. They are generally very good with helping students with loans.

Applying for Finance

You should apply online via the government's website or download the finance forms and send them in the post. Either yourself, your parents, partners, husbands and wives can complete the forms for you.

New student forms are PN1 whereas continuing students are PR1. If you're part-time, the form is PTG1 (and you also have to confirm if you are on benefits (CB1) and for parents and partners their form is CB2 (with additional clarification on income and earnings on CI2 and GSA1).

Once the forms are complete, you'll need proof of identity which should be your passport or a birth certificate. Submit copies by post to Student Finance England.

Student Bursaries

You may be eligible for a subsidy in the form of a bursary or scholarship from your university if you're from a low-income family or are studying a specialist subject. See more on student bursaries together with the criteria for these types of awards.

Student Grants

You may be eligible for a student grant for maintenance or a special support grant to cover additional costs such as books and materials. See if student grants are available for you and your course.