The UK student loans are unavoidable, though painful, step in a student’s life. The British education is quite expensive, but fortunately, you can borrow enough money and pay them later.
Tuition fees in the UK have been rising for years, capping last year at the highest amount it ever was. A Government decision amended in 2017 allowed universities and other higher education providers to charge students with a fee of £9,250 per annum. Furthermore, studying in the UK requires additional expenses apart from tuition fees. Though you may gain a scholarship (full or partial one) there may still be a financial gap you need to fill.
The Government gives a significant financial support to students, who struggle with funding, through a well-established and flexible student loan system. Because your education in the UK may totally depend on your detailed budget plan you must have a knowledge of this loan system. This article provides a better understanding of this.
The first thing you need to do is to check if you are eligible for a fund or not. Below are certain conditions and terms that qualify you for a student loan before going into details on each:
- Your university or college
- Your course
- If you have studied before
- Your age
- Your residency status or citizenship
In order to be eligible for a student loan in the UK, you should check if your university is aligned with certain government regulations. Not every higher education provider there is in accordance with these regulations and so it can’t award you a recognized degree. If so, you won’t be allowed to seek a student loan fund. Unless your university carries an official recognition you’re not eligible to apply for such loan. For the sake of information, these institutions are known as recognized bodies. As opposed to these, universities and other higher education institutions that can’t award degree are known as listed bodies. For instance, if you have studied in one of these “listed bodies” your degree must be awarded by another “recognized body”.
On this link, you’ll find a list of these “listed bodies”
Note however that this list doesn’t remain the same all the time. We advise you to regularly check whether your actual university or the one you’re willing to enroll is on the list. If you don’t find it listed here contact the Department of Education to check it for you. Otherwise, you can end without getting any of UK student loans.
Just like universities, courses also need to be estimated whether they are in line with education law regulations. Some courses may be offered in universities, but still not recognized so to say. If your study course is not any of these below you’re not eligible to apply for a student loan:
A first degree, BA or BSc or Bed
A foundation degree
A certificate of Higher Education
A diploma of Higher Education (DipHE)
A Higher National Certificate (HNC)
A Higher National Diploma (HND)
A postgraduate certificate of Education (PGCE)
Initial Teacher Training
An integrated master’s
A pre-registration postgraduate healthcare course
Note: Part-time students are obligated to study 25% (at the minimum) of a full-time course in each academic year to be eligible to take a loan. This is called “course intensity”.
You’ve studied before
Usually, UK student loans are given to those students who are seeking a degree for the first time. This remains true even if your prior degree was achieved leaning only on your money. However, there are some unique circumstances under which you may get a limited funding.
If you don’t have a degree you’ll get a limited fund on these two cases:
You change your study course
You drop out a course but then you start It again
On the other hand, if you already hold a degree you can get a limited fund in these cases
You have completed a Foundation degree, an HNC or HND and now you want to seek an Honours degree.
You have an Honours degree or higher education qualification, but you start attending a part-time Honours degree in engineering, technology or computer science.
Students who have started a healthcare course on or after 1 August 2017 are also allowed to take these funds. Dental and hygiene students who entered their course before the 2018/19 academic year can’t take these funds.
Currently, there are no age restrictions to acquire UK student loans.
Your residential status or nationality
As for the nationality and citizenship, the following are eligible to apply for a fund
- You’re a UK citizen or “settled”
- You have been living in the UK for at least 3 years before starting your study course
Also, if your residential status is one of the following you’re eligible:
- Humanitarian protection
- EEA migrant employee
- Child of a Swiss national
- Child of a Turkish employee
- A stateless person and you’ll start your course in or after 1 August 2018
- You’re from an EU country
- You’ve been living in the UK for 7 years and you’re under 18
- You’re above 18 but have been living in the UK for at least 20 years or half of your life.
How to apply?
After you’ve checked your eligibility for the student loan system you move to the next stage, that of applying for one. The SLC (The Student Loans Company) is the regulator that delivers UK loans to students. The procedures for getting one are different in each of the countries that constitute the UK. Currently, students located in England have the opportunity to apply online, but not those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Most of the part-time and full-time students in England have to
- Set up an online finance account
- Log in and complete the application form
- Submit household incomes if necessary
- Show an identity proof if it’s required
If you encounter a problem when applying contact the Student Finance England.
As mentioned above in other countries of UK the process of applying is different and is not carried online yet. In some respect, the application process is more difficult than in England since it changes for different cohorts of applicants. For example, full-time students must submit different documents compared to those in part-time courses, or EU nationals must show different documents compared to other nationals. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own Student Finance which counsels students for UK student loans. This is why we advise you to check each of them on these links below
Types of UK student loans
Generally, the UK student loans come in two types regarding the expenses you’ll aim to cover: Tuition fee loans and Maintenance loans.
Full-time students at a publicly-funded university whose course started on or after 1 August 2016 are eligible to apply for a tuition fee loan.
Tuition fee loans are taken with the purpose of covering tuition and fees that a university charges you. You can acquire up to £9,250 per year in public universities and £6,165 at private colleges or universities. With this being said, at the end of a three-year course, you’d expect to have a debt of £27,000 at least in a public school.The payment is made directly to the university you’re enrolled at.
On the other hand, you can seek a Maintenance loan with the purpose to cover living expense in the UK. At the maximum, a student living in London in the 2016/17 academic year away from his home could borrow £10,702 and those living away from home outside London £8,200. Before each term, you’ll get your money in your bank account.
Note that when applying for a tuition fees loan you may not be required to show your household income. On the contrary, for a maintenance loan, the Student Finance office will ask you to show your household income from the tax year prior to the year at which you applied.
How do I have to repay?
Now comes the tough part: giving the money back. After you take your degree you should step into the job market and find a job. If your earnings are at a certain level you can only start the repayment phase.
There are actually three repayment plans based on your job earnings. As for the Repayment plan 1 you can start repaying your debt when your yearly income exceeds £18,330. If you earn over £25,000 per year then you can choose the Repayment plan 2. And if your income is over £21,000 you’re good to go with the Repayment plan 3.
Student loans normally carry a rate of interest which is different at each Repayment plan. The interest will be set in accordance with the RPI (Retail Price Index), a regular measurement of inflation in the UK. For further information concerning the repayment interest, we suggest you check this link
Can my loan be canceled?
There are some specific circumstances at which you will no longer be charged with tuition fees. These circumstances include the death of the person or the permanent loss of his ability to work and earn money. Also, your debt may be canceled if you can repay it within a certain period of time. Because the loan student system in under constant changes these circumstances can change time to time.