Five Questions About: Student loans

Isn't it too early to be worrying about student loans?

Many students don't yet know if they have achieved the required grades to attend university this September, but that does not mean they should ignore their student loan applications. The delays some students experienced last year caused real hardship for many undergraduates and should serve as a powerful incentive for this year's applicants to get their forms in as early as they can.

When is the deadline?

The deadline for guaranteed payment before term begins was 25 June. However, students can still apply and should do so as quickly as possible if they want to receive the money in time for the start of the academic year.

How much do students have to pay in fees?

The maximum amount UK students will have to pay in tuition fees for the 2010-11 academic year is £3,290. However, the exact amount payable depends on the course and university or college; there will be details in their prospectuses.

How much can an undergraduate borrow?

Full-time students can apply for a tuition fee loan, which covers their fees in full and is paid straight to the university. They can also apply for a maintenance loan of up to £4,950 if they are living away from home. In addition to that, there is means-tested help available. Some students can qualify for a maintenance or special support grant of up to £2,906, and hard-up undergrads can often apply for a bursary from their university or college.

When do graduates start repaying their loans?

Once a student has left university, they begin repaying their loans once they earn £15,000 or more a year. Nine per cent of their salary is deducted before reaching their bank account, like a tax. Loans begin accruing interest as soon as they are issued. The rate is set every September and is linked to inflation.

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