Who Is Eligible For A Student Loan In The UK?

student loan requirements
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The path to higher education often involves a critical step: securing the necessary financial resources. For countless students, this journey is made possible through student loans. However, obtaining these loans isn’t a straightforward process; to get student loans one must meet certain student loan requirements.

It is an understanding of the specific criteria and prerequisites set forth by lending institutions and government bodies. For a prospective student or a concerned parent, understanding these requirements is the first step toward making informed decisions about financing higher education.

In this guide, we will explore the essential aspects of student loan requirements, shedding light on what students must meet and provide to access these vital funds for their educational pursuits.

What Is Student Loans?

Student Loans represent financial assistance provided by the British Government to students pursuing higher education. These loans encompass the complete coverage of tuition fees and provide support for living expenses throughout your academic program. Once your loan application is sanctioned, the Government will make direct payments to the university to cover your tuition.

To be eligible for the loan, you must fit one of these categories: 

  • You are a UK national
  • You are an EU student who holds settled or pre-settled status in the UK
  • You are from the Republic of Ireland

Read also: Can a Non-Student Live in Student Housing in the UK?

Types of Student Loans

There are two main types of student loans:

  1. Tuition Fee Loans, which help with the cost of college or university tuition fees. The amount of the loan, which is paid directly to the educational institution, is determined by the institution’s fee schedule.
  2. Loans for maintenance that assist with daily needs including lodging, food, books, and other charges. The maximum amount you may receive is determined by your age, the city in which you reside, whether you live with your parents or alone, and your household’s income. Every semester, this loan is deposited directly into your bank account.

How To Apply For A Student Loan?

The application process is not complicated and the British Government offers all the necessary information on their website. 

  1. Check whether you are eligible for a loan: undergraduate studies, or Master’s studies, or doctorate studies.
  2. Set up a Student Finance Account
  3. If you’re applying by post, find and download the form you need.
  4. Include all required evidence, such as proof of identity or proof of household income.
  5. Check the deadline for application: it depends on when your course starts.

How to apply for student finance

Applications for full-time undergraduate courses in England usually open in March. As it can take up to six weeks to process a student loan application, you should aim to apply for your loan by 31 May if your course starts between 1 August and 31 December. You don’t need to have a confirmed offer of a place on a course before applying.

The final deadline for student finance is nine months after the start of the academic year for your course.

Students from England can register and apply online through Student Finance England. From here you can track your application, check your student finance payment dates, and make any amendments to your details.

EU applicants with settled status can also apply online for tuition fee support and help with their living costs. However, if you’re applying for tuition fee support only, you’ll need to download the forms and apply by post.

If you live in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland you should apply through the following bodies:

What are the advantages of a student loan?

1. Minimal interest

Your interest is low, unlike with a bank loan, so the amount you must repay is nearly equal to the amount you really borrow and not significantly more, as with bank loans.

2. Only pay back after graduation

You don’t begin paying after graduating unless your income reaches a specific level. When you make the payments, you will be required to pay back according to the country in which you reside because the threshold varies for each nation. You must notify the Student Loans Company if you relocate abroad, and your repayment schedule will be revised as a result.

The government establishes a predetermined threshold based on the average gross annual wage in that nation. You begin repaying 9% (for undergraduate loans) or 6% (for postgraduate loans) of the difference between your wage and the threshold when you start earning more than that amount.

Read also: Sallie Mae Student Loans: Things you were told about

3. Have the loan written off if you can’t pay it back

In certain circumstances, you might not be required to repay the loan. You cease making loan payments if you lose your job, start receiving assistance, return to school, or in any other circumstance when you don’t have a steady source of income.

Additionally, your loan will be canceled if you are still unemployed and haven’t started paying back your debt 25, 30, or 40 years after graduating, depending on the plan you’re on.

Are there disadvantages to taking a Student Loan?

One significant drawback of acquiring a loan is the obligation to repay it, which often spans several years before clearing the debt entirely. If it’s within your means, you may contemplate covering your educational expenses upfront. Alternatively, you could explore studying in a country with more affordable tuition fees or even the option of free higher education.

Concerning the impact of a Student Loan on a mortgage application in the UK, regrettably, it does have an effect, though not a substantial one. This is primarily because the monthly repayment amount for a Student Loan is generally modest.

The precise implications for your mortgage application should be verified with the specific bank you approach for a mortgage. Nonetheless, it is imperative to ensure that you disclose your Student Loan when discussing your mortgage application.

Student loan requirements in the UK

In the UK, student loans are disbursed via the Student Loans Company (SLC), and the eligibility criteria differ depending on whether you’re seeking a tuition fee loan, a maintenance loan, or a blend of both. Below are the overarching prerequisites for securing student loans in the United Kingdom:

Residency Status

To be eligible for student loans in the UK, you generally need to meet residency requirements. This means you must be ordinarily resident in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, or the Channel Islands. Some EU/EEA nationals may also be eligible, but this can vary post-Brexit, so it’s essential to check the latest guidance.

Course and Institution

You must be enrolled in a qualifying course at a recognized institution in the UK. Most full-time and part-time undergraduate courses at UK universities and colleges are eligible.

Read also: Does A Student Loan Count As Income In The UK?


Most full-time students under the age of 60 are eligible for student loans in the UK. However, there are some exceptions and specific age limits for certain types of loans, so it’s important to check the specific loan you’re applying for.

Previous Study

The eligibility for student loans can be affected by previous higher education studies. In some cases, you may not be eligible for certain loans if you have already received funding for a similar course in the past. This can depend on factors such as the level of the course and the type of loan.

Credit Check

Unlike some countries, the UK student loan system does not typically involve credit checks or require a co-signer. Student loans in the UK are income-contingent, which means you start repaying them when you earn over a certain income threshold.

National Insurance Number

You will need a valid National Insurance Number (NIN) to apply for a student loan in the UK.

Application Deadline

It’s important to apply for student loans by the relevant application deadlines, which can vary depending on whether you’re a new or returning student. Missing these deadlines can affect your eligibility for funding.

Financial Information

While there is no strict income requirement for most UK student loans, you will need to provide financial information as part of the application process. This information helps determine the amount of maintenance loan (if applicable) you are eligible to receive.

It’s essential to note that the student loan system in the UK is different from systems in other countries, such as the United States. In the UK, student loans are typically provided by the government and are designed to be repaid once you start earning above a certain income threshold.

To apply for student loans in the UK and get the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding eligibility and application procedures, you should visit the official Student Loans Company (SLC) website or contact their customer support for guidance. The application process for student loans in the UK is usually done online through the government’s student finance service.

What are the Student Loan plans?

The Student Loans Company offers 5 different plans for students, depending on when they took the loan and their level of study. 

  • Plan 1: if you started your undergraduate studies before the 1st of September 2013
  • Plan 2: if you started your undergraduate studies between the 1st of September 2013 and the 31st of July 2024
  • Plan 4: if you applied for a loan through the Student Awards Agency Scotland
  • Plan 5: if you start your undergraduate course on or after the 1st of August 2024
  • Postgraduate Loan: if you take out a loan for a postgraduate degree. 

Apart from your current country of residence, the repayment threshold is different depending on your plan as well. 

Read also: How Much Does It Cost To Go To University In The UK | 2024 Expert Tips?

Managing Student Loans

It’s easy to manage your student loan. You are qualified to begin making student loan repayments the first April following your graduation. You will receive a letter from the Student Loans Company (SLC) requesting proof of your circumstance.

After this, you must set up a monthly payment plan if you are employed and earn more than the criteria. If not, you won’t be required to pay for the following year or until your financial condition improves.

The kind of evidence they require includes:

  • Paychecks
  • Original contract showing gross salary in English
  • Bank statements
  • Letter from a person who takes care of you

In addition, if you want to make an extra repayment of any sum, you can always do so voluntarily, or you can pay back the loan in full.

Can international students apply for student loans in the UK?

Student Loans provided by the UK Government are not accessible to international students. Before Brexit, these loans were open to EU/EEA students as well.

However, for courses commencing after August 1, European students can typically only access these loans if they possess settled or pre-settled status, indicating their eligibility for permanent residency in the UK.

To qualify for this status, individuals must have resided in the UK for at least five years before applying. A notable exception to this requirement applies to students from Ireland, who can study in the UK without a Visa and apply for a Student Loan without needing to go through the EU Settlement Scheme.

Additionally, students from Commonwealth countries are not eligible to apply for a student loan; however, they do have the option of pursuing a Commonwealth Scholarship.

Student Loans enable numerous UK residents to access quality higher education, regardless of their financial circumstances. International students, on the other hand, have limited access to these loans, with specific eligibility criteria and exceptions in place.

You can read this: What To Do When Student Loan Account Is Closed Due To Transfer.

Repaying Student Loans

Interest on student loans is typically calculated based on the Retail Price Index (RPI) plus a maximum of 3%. However, you’re not obligated to start repaying these loans until the April following your graduation or course completion, provided your annual income before tax and deductions reaches or exceeds £27,288 (£2,274 per month). At that point, your repayments will be set at 9% of your income exceeding this threshold.

It’s important to note that there are no penalties if you choose to pay off any portion or the entirety of your loan amount before reaching this repayment threshold.

For those in employment, the repayment amount will be automatically deducted from your salary, along with tax and National Insurance (NI) contributions. It’s advisable to retain your payslips and P60 form, as these documents will be required should you ever need to request a refund.

For more detailed information about student loan repayment, you can refer to the GOV.UK page titled “Repaying your student loan.”

How To Cancel Student Finance

Should your plans undergo alterations prior to the commencement of your course, you have the option to modify or cancel your funding application. To facilitate this process, you will need to get in touch with either Student Finance England or the relevant administering body.

Once you’ve embarked on your university journey for the first term, if you are a full-time student usually residing in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland, you remain responsible for covering 25% of your tuition fee loan, even if you opt to withdraw, transfer, or suspend your studies at a later juncture. This proportion rises to 50% following the initiation of the second term and escalates to 100% if you commence the third term.

In the case of those who ordinarily reside in Scotland, where tuition fees are paid directly to the university in a single payment if you decide to withdraw from your course before the stipulated date, no tuition fee loan will be disbursed to you. After this date, the loan will be redirected toward your new course and university.

Regarding maintenance loans, you become accountable for each installment as soon as it is disbursed (at the commencement of the term). This includes any accrued interest, which will be incorporated when your repayment obligations commence.

Prior to making a decision, it is advisable to engage with the relevant awarding body, such as Student Finance England. This is important because departing from your course prematurely may have implications for your eligibility to receive financial assistance in the future. For more guidance on altering or discontinuing your course, please refer to our advice on “changing or leaving your course.”

Hardship funds

While the Access to Learning Fund has now been replaced, additional financial support is available for:

  • students on a low income
  • students with children, especially single parents
  • students previously in the care
  • disabled students
  • mature students with existing financial commitments.

To check your eligibility for extra help, visit GOV.UK – Extra money to pay for university.

You may be able to get help from your university, as well as charitable trusts. Non-repayable bursaries, scholarships, and awards are available for students who would otherwise be unable to afford to study at this level. Contact your university to find out what’s on offer, whether you’re eligible, and how to apply.

Meanwhile, if you find yourself in financial difficulty after your course has started, your university may be able to provide money from its hardship funds to assist you. Apply through your university’s support services.

Read also: How Many Universities Can You Apply To Via UCAS?


Understanding the requirements and implications of student loans is crucial for individuals pursuing higher education.

Whether it’s meeting eligibility criteria, managing repayment terms, or considering the impact of course changes, being well-informed empowers students to make informed decisions about their financial journey through academia.

It’s advisable to stay in close contact with the relevant financial authorities and seek guidance when needed, as navigating the world of student loans is an essential part of achieving educational goals while maintaining financial stability.



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