Government student loans for undergraduates

Government student loans are the main source of funding for new full-time and part-time undergraduate students. If you are eligible, you can apply for a fee loan to cover the full cost of your fees and a maintenance loan to help cover your maintenance costs - accommodation, travel, study costs, etc.

Part-time undergraduate degree (BA, BSc, LLB) students can access maintenance loans for the first time from 2018-19. (Certificate of higher education and foundation degree students are ineligible for maintenance loans). 

Apply now

Apply online now (via Student Finance England) for your student loan

Student finance applications can usually be made from January of your year of entry, and you can apply up to nine months after the first day of the academic year for your course. 

You don't need a confirmed place at university to apply; you can apply with your first choice of university (you can change the details later if you need to).

If you need help with your loan application, please contact Student Finance England. 

Eligibility criteria

  • To be eligible, you must be: 
    • studying an undergraduate course (BA/BSc/LLB degree) (Please note: if you are studying a foundation degree or a certificate of higher education, you can only apply for a fees loan - you are ineligible to apply for a maintenance loan.) 
    • studying at undergraduate level for the first time (ie you do not already have a degree or a qualification at the same level, or higher, than the one that you wish to study at Birkbeck). There are some exemptions to this - see below.
    • studying at least 25% of a full-time course or modules worth 30 credits a year on a designated course
    • are classified as a Home/EU student (Note: EU students can only apply for a fee loan - they are ineligible to apply for a maintenance loan.) 
    • are not behind in repayments for any previous student loan taken out 
    • have not exceeded your loan eligibility due to prior study.

Exempt Equivalent or Lower Qualification (ELQ) courses

What you can apply for

  • Eligible full-time and part-time undergraduate students can apply now for both a tuition fee loan and a maintenance loan. (From 2018-2019, government maintenance loans are being made available to new part-time students for the first time.) 
  • If you have been classified as an EU student by Student Finance England, you can apply for a tuition fee loan, but not for a maintenance loan - EU students are ineligible.
  • When you enrol online for your Birkbeck course (this happens after you have accepted an offer of a place), if you are eligible for a loan, you will be given the option to state that you are applying for a student loan to pay your fees. This will mean that you can enrol on your course without having to make a payment first. 

When you start repaying your student loan

  • Birkbeck students can usually complete their studies before starting to repay their loans:
    • If you are classified as a part-time student, you will be due to start repaying your loan in the April after you leave your course or the April that falls four years after the first day of your course (even if you’re still studying), whichever comes first.
    • If you are classified as a full-time student, you will be due to start repaying your loan in the April after you complete or leave your course. If you finish or leave your course before April 2016, you won’t start making repayments until after this date.
    • Please see the Student Loans Company Repayments website or contact the Student Advice Service.
  • Full-time courses at Birkbeck include: 
    • 3-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees 
    • 4-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees with foundation year
    • 2-year evening study Foundation Degrees 
    • some of our Certificates of Higher Education 
  • All other undergraduate programmes are classified as part-time study

Interest charges on your student loan

  • 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: the interest rate is inflation plus 3%.

Income thresholds

  • 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 below for examples of monthly repayments.

How you will repay your loan

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Any outstanding loan balance will be written off 30 years after entering repayment.

Early repayments and credit ratings

  • You can make additional voluntary repayments to the Student Loans Company at any time, which will reduce your balance earlier.
  • 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 have repaid.
  • 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 your net income (ie - your income after tax and loan repayments).

Examples of monthly repayments

  • Income before tax: up to £21,000
    • Monthly salary before tax: £1750
    • Monthly repayment: £0.
  • Income before tax: £22,000
    • Monthly salary before tax: £1833
    • Monthly repayment: £7.
  • Income before tax: up to £25,000
    • Monthly salary before tax: £2083
    • Monthly repayment: £30.
  • Income before tax: up to £30,000
    • Monthly salary before tax: £2500
    • Monthly repayment: £67.
  • Income before tax: up to £35,000
    • Monthly salary before tax: £2916
    • Monthly repayment: £105.
  • Income before tax: £40,000
    • Monthly salary before tax: £3333
    • Monthly repayment: £142. 

Previous study 

  • If you have already studied a higher education course, in the UK or overseas, this will affect how much you can borrow from Student Finance England to fund any future studies. 
  • Your available funding is calculated as follows: 
    • the duration of your course plus one gift year minus previous years of study equals your remaining years of funding
      • any time spent on a full-time higher education course, in the UK or overseas, is counted as a previous year of funding in the above calculation, regardless of whether you took out a tuition fee loan. 
      • any time spent on a part-time higher education course, in the UK or overseas, is only applicable in the above calculation if you gained a qualification. In this case, one year of part-time study is equal to one year of full-time funding. 
  • Example one 
    • You want to study a three-year full-time degree at Birkbeck after completing a two-year part-time certificate of higher education.  
      • The calculation is: the duration of your course (three years) plus one gift year (one year) minus previous years of study (two years) equals = your remaining years of funding (ie - two years of remaining full-time funding). 
      • Your remaining years of funding are applied to the end of your course, so, in this example, you wouldn't receive a tuition fee loan for the first year, but you would be entitled to a loan in your second and third years. 
  • Example two 
    • You want to study a four-year full-time degree with a foundation year. You completed one year of a full-time degree overseas and one year of a part-time degree in the UK (which did not lead to a qualification). 
    • The calculation is: the duration of your course (four years) plus one gift year (one year) minus previous years of study (one year) equals = your remaining years of funding (ie - four years of remaining full-time funding). 
    • In this example, the one year of full-time study overseas is counted, but not the one year of part-time study in the UK, as this didn't result in a qualification. 
  • Additional years of funding may be awarded if you can demonstrate compelling personal reasons during your studies, such as illness. 
  • For help and advice, contact the Student Advice Service