Student Loan

Student loans and interest rates

by Madaline Dunn

According to the OECD England has the most expensive publicly-funded university system in the world. Back in 1998, student tuition fees were £1000 a year, which increased to £3000 in 2006, and then skyrocketed to £9000 in 2012. Alongside this massive hike in tuition fees, since 2012, maintenance grants and NHS bursaries have been abolished, forcing many to take on more debt in the form of loans, rather than benefiting from non-repayable grants.

Student loans come with interest, which is added all the time, and you may have seen recent reports that there are changes coming for student interest rates, which will reach up to 12% in some cases.

Interests and loans can be complicated at the best of times, and circulating reports may have you furrowing your brow, but at The Salary Calculator, we’ll walk you through all the changes and explain:

  • What’s going on with student loan interest rates
  • How you might be affected
  • Whether there are further changes ahead

Student loan interest rates

In England, according to government figures, the average amount of debt a student accumulates from their time studying is £45,000, and with fees and interest so high, few ever fully repay their loans. In fact, this percentage is at 20%

That said, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, students who took out a loan after 2012 are in for a “rollercoaster ride”. Interest rates on post-2012 student loans are based on the retail prices index, and after RPI rose in March, most graduates will see interest rates rise from 1.5% to 9%. Higher earners (with an income of £49,130 and above) will be hit the worst, however; the maximum interest rate on their loans will increase from 4.5% to 12% for half a year. 

According to estimates, this increase means that the average graduate with £50,000 debt will incur around £3,000 in interest over six months. The IFS study outlined: ​”That is not only vastly more than average mortgage rates, but also more than many types of unsecured credit,” adding: “Student loan borrowers might legitimately ask why the government is charging them higher interest rates than private lenders are offering.”

Looking ahead, Ben Waltmann, a senior research economist at the IFS, explained that unless the government makes changes to the way student loan interest is determined, there will be “wild swings in the interest rate over the next three years.” He outlined: “The maximum rate will reach an eye-watering level of 12% between September 2022 and February 2023 and a low of around zero between September 2024 and March 2025.”

He said that there is “no good economic reason for this.” Adding: “Interest rates on student loans should be low and stable, reflecting the government’s own cost of borrowing. The government urgently needs to adjust the way the interest rate cap operates to avoid a significant spike in September.”

To learn more about how the changes will specifically affect you, check out the government website, which provides a complete guide to terms and conditions. 

How will this affect you?

According to a Tweet by Michelle Donelan, the Minister of State for Higher Education, this interest rate hike on student loans has “no impact on monthly repayments.” Further to this, she said, “These will not increase for students. Repayments are linked to income, not interest rates.” However, not everyone agrees that the situation is as clear cut as this. 

The IFS’s Waltman explained that while it is true the interest rate on student loans has “no impact” on monthly repayments, it affects “how long those who do pay off their loans before the end of the repayment period have to make repayments and therefore the total amount these students repay over their lifetimes.”

In addition to this, the IFS said that one of the many detrimental effects of the hike could be discouraging students from going to university for fear of mounting financial costs, and with record hikes to the cost of living, this is a valid and reasonable concern. Alongside this, the IFS also said that the change might force some graduates to pay off large sums of debt when it “has no benefit for them”.

Are further changes ahead?

Aside from changes to interest on student loans, the government has announced proposals that will affect loan accessibility, too. In response to the Augar review of post-18 education, in February, the government announced plans to block students who ​​fail to attain English and Maths GCSEs or two A-levels at grade E from qualifying for a student loan.

Experts have warned that these new changes will detrimentally impact students from lower-socio-economic backgrounds the worst and put a “cap on aspiration”. Sir Peter Lampl, founder and executive chair of the Sutton Trust education charity, outlined: “The introduction of any minimum grade requirement is always going to have the biggest impact on the poorest young people, as they are more likely to have lower grades because of the disadvantages they have faced in their schooling.”

The government also outlined that the repayment threshold will be cut from £27,295 to £25,000 for new borrowers beginning courses from September 2023, and further to this; students will now pay off their debt for ten years longer (for 40 years rather than 30 years).

Speaking about the changes and their impact on graduates, Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “It’s effectively a lifelong graduate tax for most.” Adding: “Only around a quarter of current [university] leavers are predicted to earn enough to repay in full now. Extending this period means the majority of lower and mid earners will keep paying for many more years, increasing their costs by thousands. Yet the highest earners who would clear [their debt] within the current 30 years won’t be impacted.”

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Wednesday, May 4th, 2022 Student Loan No Comments

None of the content on this website, including blog posts, comments, or responses to user comments, is offered as financial advice. Figures used are for illustrative purposes only.

Updated for April 2021

by Admin

The Salary Calculator has been updated with the tax rates which take effect from 6th April 2021. Some of these rates are still subject to confirmation by the relevant governments, but the calculator will be updated if any of them change.

The biggest change is the introduction of “Plan 4” student loan repayments, for Scottish students. If your undergraduate loan is administered in Scotland and due for repayment you will start repaying under Plan 4 from April 2021, even if you have been previously repaying under Plan 1. Those already repaying their loans will switch from Plan 1 to Plan 4 repayments in April. This change does not affect students in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, and nor does it affect repayment of postgraduate loans.

If you would like to see the effects of this change, and any others from April 2021, try out The 2021 Salary Calculator by choosing the “2021/22” tax year from the drop-down box.

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New tool – Sick Pay Calculator

by Admin

With many people having to take time off work due to the current situation with COVID-19, I thought I would try to create a sick pay calculator. If you will be taking time off, and your employer’s policy states that you will receive reduced (or no) pay for your time off, the Sick Pay Calculator will try to estimate the effect on your take-home pay.

You can enter the number of days on a percentage of your normal pay (e.g. 50% for half pay), the number of days on Statutory Sick Pay (n.b. the calculator is not able to tell whether or not you are eligible for SSP, learn more from Citizens Advice), and the number of unpaid days. The calculator will use this information to estimate how your payslip will change.

Please note that different employers calculate things like unpaid leave in different ways, so the calculator’s results may differ from those on your payslip. Also, how much you will get paid for time off depends primarily on what your employer’s relevant policies state – you will need to know what you are entitled to before using the calculator.

Please let me know if you have any trouble using the calculator – I’ve tried to reduce the number of unexpected results, but it is possible with a lot of time off and with many options such as pensions and student loans applied that the answers given might be a bit unusual!

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April 2020 calculations

by Admin

The Salary Calculator has been updated with the tax rates which currently stand to take effect from 6th April 2020. I say “currently”, because there is a Budget taking place on Wednesday 11th March and it is possible that some changes to tax rates or allowances will be announced. If this is the case, the calculator will be updated with the latest values as soon as possible following the Budget.

At the moment, no changes to the tax-free personal allowance or income tax rates have been announced (apart from in Scotland, where some tax thresholds have been increased slightly). However, the threshold for when you start paying National Insurance has increased, meaning that National Insurance contributions will be reduced by up to £104 per year.

Those repaying their undergraduate student loans will also find that the repayment threshold has increased – for Plan 1 it will be £19,390, and Plan 2 £26,575 per year. Although this increase will reduce the payments you make in each payslip, it will of course mean that it takes longer to repay your loan.

If you’d like to see how the changes will affect you, head over to The Salary Calculator and remember to choose 2020/21 from the Tax Year drop-down box.

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New! Two Jobs Salary Calculator

by Admin

I have finally been able to deliver something that has been on my “to-do” list for several years – a salary calculator for when you have two jobs at the same time. If you are considering taking on a second job to help make ends meet, or if you have two part-time jobs rather than one full-time job, it isn’t easy to work out what your take-home pay will be. If you’d like to try it out and see what a difference an extra job could make, head over to the Two Jobs Salary Calculator.

All the usual options are there, such as pension contributions, bonuses and overtime, to help you see all the details in one place. You can use the calculator without a tax code, or with a single tax code for both jobs, or with individual tax codes for each job if you have been given them by HMRC.

It can be quite complicated to work out the tax and other deductions for those who are working two jobs, so I hope this will be useful to some of you. It was also quite difficult to find a way to display all the options (like pension contributions from both jobs) without making it too hard to use. I hope I have succeeded, I look forward to hearing from people who have used it.

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