Paying for University or College

The cost of Higher Education can be concerning for students and parents in thinking that you can't afford to go to university or college. But don't dismiss the idea because of this. Find out the facts and you will see that it is more affordable than you might think, and is a real investment in you and your future. 

The following section aims to give you the information you need about student fees and loans, and breaks down some of the myths about Higher Education finances.

The good news is that student loan repayments are based on what graduates can afford to pay rather than the amount they borrow, and students don’t have to pay anything back until they have finished their degree and are earning over a certain amount.

Tuition Fees

This is the cost of the course itself – for example teaching time and library/computer facilities.

  • Students have to pay their own fees, but they can get a loan to cover the cost.
  • Universities can charge up to £9,250 per year (2018/19)

This loan is not means-tested – which means the amount you receive doesn’t depend on your household income.

Maintenance Loan

  • You will also need to pay for things like accommodation, food, transport and socialising.
  • You can apply for a maintenance loan to help towards these costs.
  • The amount you can borrow will depend on various factors, including where you will be studying and your household income.
  • For example, in 2017/18, a student living outside London, who is from a household with income below £25,000, could be eligible for a maintenance loan of up to £8,430 per year. • The amount available to students from higher income households will be less; they – or their parent/s – will need to make up the shortfall.

Who provides student loans?

Student loans are provided by the Student Loans Company (SLC). SLC is a non-profit making, government-owned organisation. For students living in England, applications for a student loan are made through Student Finance England.

Repaying your student loan

For both types of loan, you will only have to start making repayments:

  • After you have finished your degree.
  • When you are earning a salary over a certain amount. The current threshold is £26,575 a year, £2,214 a month, or £511 a week, with graduates paying 9% of anything they earn above this amount.

The tuition fee and maintenance loans are linked to keep repayments simple, and are paid back directly from graduates’ salaries.

After 30 years, any outstanding balance is automatically cleared and no further repayments are required.

Your loan repayments will be automatically deducted from your earnings in the same way as income tax.

There’s more information about repaying student loans on the Student Loans Company website, www.slc.co.uk/repayment 

For example.

  • If you are earning £26,000 you won't pay back anything until your annual earnings go above £26,575
  • If you are earning £31,575 you will pay back around £450 a year which is just under £40 a month - less than a night out!
  • If you are earning £36,575 you will pay back around £75 a month - which sounds like a lot but when you are earning £36,575 a year is affordable.

Look at the table for some more examples of how much you could repay.

Yearly income before tax Monthly income before tax Monthly repayment
£26,575 £2,214 £0
£27,000 £2,250 £3
£29,500 £2,458 £21
£31,000 £2,583 £39
£33,000 £2,750 £54

Student Loan Interest

Whilst you are still studying, the interest on your loan will be inflation plus 3%. After you have finished the course, you will pay a rate of interest based on the UK Retail Price Index (RPI) and your current level of income.

Find Out more

GOV.UK www.gov.uk/repaying-your-student-loan/what-you-pay   

Student Loans Company http://media.slc.co.uk/repayment/qsg

Money Saving Expert www.moneysavingexpert.com/students/

 

How do I apply for a student loan?

You can apply for your  tuition fee and maintenance loans online at www.gov.uk/student-finance. You should do this as early as possible, as it can take up to six weeks to process your application. You don’t need to wait to receive offers from universities before applying. For more guidance and application deadlines visit www.gov.uk/apply-for-student-finance 

Most of the process is done online, however you may need to send proof of identity through the post, and will have to print, sign and return a declaration form. You will then receive a letter confirming how much you can borrow.

Once you have registered at university, the tuition fee will be paid straight to the university. The maintenance loan will be paid into your bank account at the start of each term.

When parent/carers need to be involved

If you want to apply for the maximum amount of maintenance loan, you will need to ask your parent/carer for information about your household’s taxable income, in order to include it in your student loan application.

For children coming from care, please read our guide on how to apply for your student finance.

Once your forms have been submitted, your parent/carer may be asked to provide their proof of earnings – for example their P60 or Self-Assessment tax return, and their National Insurance number. They will also be asked for evidence of any taxable state benefits, pensions or any investment income. This is just part of the checking process so there’s no need for you or your parent/carer to worry.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will then check the information that has been submitted against their records.

Student Finance England will write to you when all of your information has been confirmed.

Find out more about the process and what you need to provide 

GOV.UK www.gov.uk/support-child-or-partnersstudent-finance-application

Which? University https://university.which.co.uk/advice/advicefor-parents/expert-advice-for-parentsstudent-finance

You can also use a Student Loan Calculator.

Good to know...

The costs relating to Higher Education varies between the type of qualification you want to take i.e. Degree, Foundation, HNC and what institution you attend. For example, all universities will charge the same for their course fees, however student accommodation and travel costs vary across the country. Likewise, where you study makes a difference - A degree qualification at college is cheaper than studying at university. Its worthwhile doing your research to see what options work best for you.