Deferring repayment of your student loan
If your gross income is below a certain amount, you will be able to postpone (defer) your Student Loan repayments, as long as you provide proof of your income or means of financial support.
How to defer your Student Loan repayments
If you took out a Student Loan for a course that started before September 1998, you can apply to defer your repayments if your income falls under a certain amount.
These arrangements apply only to Student Loans taken out for courses starting before September 1998. If you started your course in or after September 1998, the repayment arrangements will be different - for details, follow the link at the bottom of the page to 'Repaying student loans (courses starting from 1998)'.
When can you defer?
You can apply to the Student Loans Company to defer your student loan repayments if all these three conditions apply:
- you took out the loan for a course that started before September 1998
- you earn £2,318 or less which is the current income threshold of £2,318 a month before tax and other deductions (equivalent to an annual income of £27,813) These are the current rates for 2013/14
- you can supply documentary evidence that your income is below this amount
If you are planning to go abroad for an extended period of time, you may also be able to postpone your repayments. But your income level in your new country must still be below the UK income threshold.
You will continue to be charged interest during any period of deferment.
How to defer
You apply to defer repayments by sending a deferment application form to the Student Loans Company. You can get a copy of the form by calling the Student Loans Company deferment helpline.
To assess your eligibility for deferment, the Student Loans Company will only take your income into consideration - you do not need to provide details about the income of any spouse, partner, parent or other relative.
Until you receive confirmation of deferment in writing, you must assume that repayments are due, regardless of whether your income falls below the deferment threshold.
When applying to defer repayments, you will need to provide supporting documentation. See 'Deferring Student Loans: which documents to supply' to find out more.
- Student Loans Company deferment helpline (contacts section)
- Deferring student loans: which documents to supply
If you are already making repayments
If you are already repaying your Student Loan, you can ask the Student Loans Company for a deferment application form at any time.
The form gives details of the maximum gross income level you can earn if you want to delay paying back your Student Loan, and simple instructions on how to complete it.
If deferment is accepted, your start and finish dates will be confirmed in writing.
Deferment lasts for 12 months, and you must make a fresh application each year if you wish to continue deferring repayment.
If you are yet to make your first repayment
In the February after you complete your studies, the Student Loans Company will send you a letter advising you that you will be due to start repaying your loan.
A deferment application form will be enclosed with this letter and you will be given the opportunity to apply for deferment. If you do not do this, repayment will automatically commence in April.
If you are eligible to defer, you must complete and return the deferment application form to the Student Loans Company with evidence of your income or means of financial support.
Any remaining arrears (repayments which have fallen due but not been met) after deferment has been accepted, are due for repayment. This means that if you apply late, you may be liable for some repayments.
Disabled students - deferment and repayment arrangements
If you are disabled there are specific repayment and deferment arrangements. You qualify as a disabled borrower under this scheme if you receive disability benefits such as:
- Disability Living Allowance
- Disability Premium
- Disabled Person's Tax Credit
- Short-term Incapacity Benefit at the higher rate
- Long-term Incapacity Benefit
- Industrial Injuries Benefit
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Severe Disability Premium
These benefits are not taken into account when your gross income is assessed to determine whether you qualify for deferment.
You may be able to extend your repayments over 10 years, if you are unlikely to be fit for full-time work for the following three years. If your gross monthly income for the next 36 months is not likely to exceed the deferment level, the deferment period will be 36 months.