- Your 3-minute guide to part-time student finance
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Student loans: top 10 facts
- The government provides loans for eligible students who are studying for an undergraduate level course for the first time. This means you don’t have to save up and pay for your course upfront.
- Your student loan will cover the full cost of your course fees.
- Loans are not ‘means tested’ (i.e. dependent on age or income).
- You don’t need to apply for your loan before you apply for your course. In fact, you should apply for your course as soon as possible to secure your place; Birkbeck will help you with your student loan application. If you’re eligible, you’ll get the full amount you need to pay your course fees.
- You can study first and repay when you’re earning. Regardless of your current income, you won’t have to repay anything until you finish your course and are earning more than £21,000 a year.
- If for any reason your salary falls below £21,000, your repayments stop - for example if you are unemployed or take maternity leave.
- Repayments will be deducted automatically from your pay packet, like income tax.
- The amount you repay each month only depends on how much you earn, not how much you borrowed or what the course fee is (see table below). This means that you can study the course that's right for you without worrying about the fees.
- Full-time students can apply for a maintenance loan and grant to help with living costs as well as loans to pay their fees. (This isn’t available to part-time students, as part-time study allows you the flexibility to work alongside study.)
- There are no penalties for repaying the loan early. After 30 years your loan will be written off, no matter how much or how little you have repaid.
Who is eligible and what the loan covers
- You will be eligible for a student loan if you are studying for an undergraduate course, e.g. foundation degree, BA/BSc/LLB or a certificate of higher education, and are:
- studying at this level for the first time (i.e. you haven’t been to university before and don’t already have an undergraduate or equivalent level qualification)
- doing a minimum of 25% of a full-time course or modules worth 30 credits a year
- classified as a Home or EU student*
- The loan covers your annual course fees. It does not cover other study costs such as living expenses, books or travel.
- Your student loan will be paid directly to the university, and not to you.
- What to do if you are not eligible for a student loan.
- Note: *Government funding regulations state that student status is dependent on nationality and residence, and you normally should have lived in the UK for three years prior to the start of your programme in order to be classed as a Home/EU student. For details, see the Government website: www.gov.uk/studentfinance If you have had a student loan before you may still be eligible. Contact the Student Loans Company to discuss your eligibility: www.slc.co.uk/
When and how to apply and get your loan
- Student loans are managed by the Student Loans Company (SLC).
- Applications are made to the Student Loans Company through Student Finance England
- The online application process for loans starting in 2013/14 is now open at
- The process of applying for a loan normally takes four to six weeks. If your course starts before the loan is paid we will still allow you to begin studying with us, as long as you have confirmed that you are eligible for the loan.
- You should apply and enrol on your course as soon as possible to secure your place. You can apply for the course and the loan at the same time, rather than wait for a firm acceptance of your university course.
- Need help with your application? Check our guidance notes
Maintenance loans and grants for full-time students
- Full-time students can apply for a maintenance loan and grant to help with living costs as well as loans to pay their fees. The maintenance loans are available to all full-time students; the grants are means-tested.
- As Birkbeck’s three-year evening degrees are classified as full-time by UCAS (the central universities admissions service), students on these programmes are eligible to apply for maintenance loans and grants.
- Maintenance loans and grants are paid directly into your bank account at the start of each term.
- After university, your fee and maintenance loans are combined for repayment. But remember, the amount you borrowed doesn’t affect how much you repay, as repayment is based on what you earn. See the repayment examples table below.
- Note: Maintenance loans and grants aren’t available to part-time students as part-time study allows you the flexibility to work alongside study.
What you need to know about repaying your loan
- Birkbeck students can complete their studies before starting to repay loans:
- Those classified as part-time* students will start to repay from the April four years after they start studying.
- Those classified full-time* students will start to repay from the April three years after they start studying.
- Students on courses shorter than three years will start to repay from the April after the course finishes.
- Note: *Birkbeck’s three-year evening BA/BSc/LLB degrees are classified as full time study; all other undergraduate programmes including our Certificates of Higher Education , Foundation degrees, and four- and six-year BA/BSc/LLB degrees are classified as part-time study.
- You only start to repay when you are earning over £21,000 a year; if you earn less than £21,000 a year, you won’t repay anything.
- You repay 9% of your income above £21,000, so the amount you repay each month will depend on your earnings – and will be the same each month no matter how much the course cost. See the table below for examples of monthly repayments.
- You will be charged interest:
- While studying: interest will be added at inflation plus 3%.
- After studying and earning below £21,000: interest will be added at inflation.
- After studying and earning £21,000-£41,000: the interest rate will be on a sliding scale from inflation up to a maximum of inflation plus 3%.
- After studying and earning over £41,000: interest rate is inflation plus 3%.
- Your repayments will automatically be deducted from your pay (the same way as income tax), or through your tax return if you are self-employed.
- If your salary falls below £21,000, your repayments automatically stop. Repayments only restart when you earn over £21,000.
- There are no penalties for repaying the loan early. After 30 years your loan is written off, no matter how much or how little you repaid.
- If you get a maintenance loan as well as a tuition fee loan, both loans will be added together, and you will repay the one loan on the same terms.
- Unlike commercial loans or credit card debt, student loans do not go on credit files. The loan is unlikely to affect your ability to get a mortgage, but the amount of mortgage available may depend on net income (i.e. income after tax and loan repayments).
|Income each year before tax||Monthly salary before tax||Monthly repayment|
|Up to £21,000||£1,750||£0|
To talk to someone about this further, please contact us.