Government student loans for undergraduates
The main source of funding available for new undergraduate students is the student tuition fee loan from the government. If you are eligible you will be able to apply for a loan to cover the full cost of your fees.
- To be eligible for a student loan, you should be studying on an undergraduate course (e.g. Foundation Degree, BA/BSc/LLB or a Certificate of Higher Education) and:
- studying at this level for the first time (i.e. you do not already have an undergraduate or equivalent level qualification - - see below).
- studying a minimum of 25% equivalent of a full-time course (30 credits) or modules worth at least 30 credits in total a year
- classified as a Home/EU student
- If you have studied on a course at higher education level previously and want to continue to study on a full-time degree at Birkbeck, this may affect your eligibility for a tuition fee and/or maintenance funding. Please contact Student Finance England for further advice.
Courses that are exempt from the ELQ exclusion
- If you already have a degree or a qualification at the same level or higher than the one that you wish to study at Birkbeck, you will still be eligible to apply for a government tuition fee loan if you study one of the following equivalent or lower qualification (ELQ) courses part-time (starting in October 2017 and later):
- BSc Biomedicine (4-year part-time)
- BSc Biomedicine (6-year part-time)
- BSc Business Psychology (4-year part-time)
- BSc Computing (2-year part-time top-up)
- BSc Computing (4-year part-time)
- BSc Development and Globalisation (4-year part-time)
- BSc Economics and/with Mathematics (4-year part-time)
- BSc Geology (4-year part-time)
- BSc Geology (6-year part-time)
- BSc Human Geography (4-year part-time)
- BSc Information Systems and Management (4-year part-time)
- BSc Information Systems and Management (6-year part-time)
- BSc Mathematics (4-year part-time)
- BSc Mathematics and Accounting (4-year part-time)
- BSc Mathematics and Economics (4-year part-time)
- BSc Mathematics and Management (4-year part-time)
- BSc Mathematics and Statistics (4-year part-time)
BSc Planetary Science with Astronomy (4-year part-time)
- BSc Psychology (4-year part-time)
BSc Psychology for Education (2-year part-time top-up)
- BSc Psychology for Education (4-year part-time)
- BA Psychosocial Studies (4-year part-time)
- BA Psychosocial Studies and Principles of Psychodynamic Counselling (4-year part-time)
- BSc Statistics and Economics (4-year part-time)
- BSc Structural Molecular Biology (4-year part-time)
- BSc Structural Molecular Biology (6-year part-time).
- If you are awarded direct entry onto Year 2 or above on one of these courses, you will also be eligible to apply for a loan.
- Note: you will not be eligible to apply for funding for these courses if you have exhausted your tuition fee funding but not completed a qualification. The number of years of previous study on your original qualification may affect the amount of funding available to you.
- If you wish to study an ELQ course not listed above, you will not be eligible for government tuition fee loans. This also applies if your qualification is from outside the UK.
What you can apply for
- Eligible full-time undergraduate students can apply for both a tuition fee loan and a maintenance loan.
- Eligible part-time undergraduate students can apply for a tuition fee loan (from 2018, government maintenance loans will also be available to part-time undergraduate students).
- If you have been classified as an EU student by Student Finance England, you can apply for a tuition fee loan only (you will not be able to apply for a maintenance loan).
- Note: 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.
Repaying your student loan
- Birkbeck students can normally 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.
- Note: Birkbeck’s 3-year evening BA/BSc/LLB degrees, 2-year evening Foundation degrees and some of our Certificates of Higher Education are classified as full-time study; 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: interest rate is inflation plus 3%.
When you will start to repay your loan
- 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.
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.
Early repayments and credit ratings
- You can make additional voluntary repayments to the SLC 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 net income (i.e. income after tax and loan repayments).
Examples of monthly repayments
- Income before tax: up to £21,000
- Monthly salary before tax £1,750
- Monthly repayment £0
- Income before tax: £22,000
- Monthly salary before tax £1,833
- Monthly repayment £7
- Income before tax: up to £25,000
- Monthly salary before tax £2,083
- Monthly repayment £30
- Income before tax: up to £30,000
- Monthly salary before tax £2,500
- Monthly repayment £67
- Income before tax: up to £35,000
- Monthly salary before tax £2,917
- Monthly repayment £105
- Income before tax: £40,000
- Monthly salary before tax £3,333
- Monthly repayment £142