Student loans for higher education
Most higher education students are entitled to take out government-backed loans to cover their tuition fees and to help with their living costs while they study.
Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans
- Tuition Fee Loans are available to cover your fees; these are paid directly to your university or college.
- You may also apply for a Maintenance Loan to help with your living costs. How much you can borrow depends on your income and where you study (you can get more in London, for instance).
You only have to pay back your loans once you have finished your course and you are earning over £25,000 a year. This is called ‘threshold’ earnings and this figure will increase as wages rise; in fact, it will be £26,575 from 2020. You then pay back your loan with interest in small instalments through the tax system based on your income over the threshold. You can choose to pay back all or some of your loan at any time without an early repayment charge. If, after 30 years, you haven’t paid off your loan, any outstanding debt is written off. You can find out more about repaying your loan on GOV.UK.
Everyone’s circumstances are different, so find out more about available funding and use the Student Finance Calculator to estimate how much you may be entitled to in loans and other financial support. Find out more about student loans through the Student Loans Company.
N.B. To avoid accruing debt, if you can afford it, you can pay your tuition fees up front, and you don’t have to take out a loan to help with your living costs.
Advanced Learner Loans
Advanced Learner Loans are for those aged 19+ to help with the cost of approved courses at further education colleges or training providers. They are not available for higher education courses for which you could receive a Tuition Fee Loan (e.g. an HND or Honours Degree). An Advanced Learner Loan can help pay for tuition fees for certain professional and vocational qualifications at Levels 4-6 (i.e. higher education level) and also for Level 3 courses.
How much you receive through an Advanced Learner Loan depends on your course fees and the type of course. You pay back your loan plus interest in small instalments when you’ve finished your course and start earning over the threshold of £25,000 a year.