A Starters Guide to Student Loans – What You Need to Know


With the new academic year looming, students across the country are gearing up for student life. It’s a hectic time – organising where to live, getting cash together and moving out of parent’s homes may be a stressful time, but it’s an exciting stage in life too. And such stages and life require a little funding.

This is why the student loan scheme was set up – to encourage learning for everyone, regardless of their economic background. The cost of higher education is just about unattainable for the average teenager, so being able to borrow money and pay it when a certain amount is being earned by the student is a real boon to anyone who wants to make study a large part of their future.

The details

Student loans can cover tuition fees, accommodation and living costs for students – although the amount which is granted depends on how much money both the student already has, and how much money his or her parents earn.

Loans taken out every year of a university course, given in installments of lump sums, and repaid when the student enters full-time paid employment.

Two forms of loan are available to students:

  • Tuition Fee Loans – these pay only for tuition fees, covering up to a certain level of tuition fees.
  • Maintenance loans – these are offered to cover other costs which will be incurred during the university course: that is, food, textbooks, utilities and the cost of rent.

How do I apply for a student loan?

To apply for a student loan, there’s plenty of paperwork to fill out – but you can do the bulk of it on this website. In order to apply for the loan, you’ll need:

  • So figures regarding how much your parents earn – so their previous years accounts.
  • Your National Insurance number and your passport number.
  • You email address and bank details.
  • Somewhere safe to keep your costumer reference number – you’ll need this to log in.

Remember, you need to apply every year just in case your circumstances change.

Don’t make mistakes!

Getting something wrong on your student loan application can end up costing you – be sure not to make these mistakes while filling out your application:

  • Bear in mind that you should not be thinking of giving money from your maintenance loan to pay for tuition fees. Tuition fees will be covered by the tuition fee loan.
  • Don’t worry that taking out a student loan will affect your credit score – it doesn’t affect your credit score or your eligibility for borrowing in later life.
  • Bear in mind that you will need to pay interest. The amount depends on how much money you are earning after graduation.

Overdrafts

Your credit history will most likely not affect whether you are eligible for a student loan. The only instance in which you may have trouble getting a loan is if you already owe money to the Student Loans Company. The repayment of loans is manageable, so you probably won’t need to worry about anyone coming and knocking on your door after you graduate.

Student overdrafts can be risky, as they do need paying back in installments after you graduate regardless of whether you are earning or not. You’ll be expected to pay back a large chunk every subsequent year until the overdraft is paid off. There are no interest fees, however.

“As almost all student accounts come with overdrafts as standard these days, look at what is available alongside the account, instead of simply opting for the one with the highest limit”, said Dan Bowen in the Guardian.

Good money management is the key to leading a comfortable university life – many students take a part-time job so that they can earn whilst they are studying. However, a student loan is tailored to meet the requirements of students who wish to commit all their time to study.

How do I repay a student loan?

Paying back a student loan can seem to be a daunting task – especially as the total borrowed amount can rack up to thousands. However, students on the verge of graduating have no reason to panic – student loans are by their very nature manageable and do not have a set time limit.

“After graduation, you won’t be expected to pay back until you are earning at least £21,000 a year. A small amount will be repaired every month – the more you earn, the more you will need to pay back a month. If you let your employer know about your student loan, the money will be taken out of your pay check every month” commented a spokesperson from Yorkshire Building Society.

The amount of interest paid is dependable on your total income. If you are earning at least £21,000 but less than £41,000, you’ll pay up to 3% of interest. The amount rises if you are earning more.

You can repay all your student loan debts in one go if you want to – however, this is rarely achievable for those who have just graduated.

If you are going to university this year, you’ll soon learn that good money management and keeping tabs on your loan will give you a comfortable university life. Don’t spend any money on yourself until you are certain that you are covered for rent, utilities, phone bills, TV licences (if you need one) and food before throwing money into the pub.

With a student loan and responsible spending, you’ll be graduating before you know it!