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At a glance: Find out about paying back your student loan.
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This summary covers England and Wales
For a version of this summary that covers Scotland, please click here.

What are student loans?

Student loans help to pay for your university tuition fees and living costs. How much you can get depends partly on when you started at university.

The rules about paying back loans and what to do if you can’t afford to pay back changed in 1998. Student loans taken out after 1 September 1998 are sometimes called new-style student loans. Loans taken out before that date are called fixed-term student loans.

How do I repay my new-style student loan?

You do not have to start repaying your loan until the April after you graduate. Even then, you only begin repayments if you earn over a certain amount. This is called your income threshold. The income threshold varies depending on what date after September 1998 you took out your loan.

The amount you repay is 9% of the difference between your actual income and the income threshold.

If you start work, your employer will automatically deduct the money you owe each month.

If you’re self-employed, you make repayments at the same time as you pay tax through self-assessment.

Can my new-style student loan be written off?

Any money you still owe is written off between 25 and 40 years after your first payment was due. The length of time depends on when you took out your loan.

Fixed-term student loans

Fixed-term student loans were introduced in 1990. They were replaced by new-style student loans in 1998.

Usually, you started repaying these loans in the April after your graduation. Repayments usually lasted five years.

Can I defer payments?

You may be able to defer your student loan repayments if you earn under 85% of the national average earnings. This means stopping repayments for 12 months.

There is an application form to apply to defer.

Keep making repayments until you get written confirmation that your application has been accepted.

If you do defer you will get a letter just before your 12 months ends to tell you when you have to start paying again. You can apply to defer for another 12 months at that time.

Learn more about this topic

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can read our in-depth guide.

Read in-depth-guide

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