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The majority of students in the UK obtain their student loans from the government. The UK student loan program is administered by the Student Loans Company (SLC), which has various regional branches throughout the UK. The UK includes England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. All students who are residents of the UK and attending a college or university in the UK are eligible for these student loans. All undergraduate degree programs are eligible, as well as graduate programs in teaching. It is important to note that loan approval is based on a studentís eligibility, not a credit report.
UK student loans are made up of two separate loans: the tuition fees loan and the maintenance loan. The tuition fees loan covers the cost of tuition for the studentís program of study. Loan proceeds for the tuition fees are paid directly to the institution. Whereas, the maintenance loan covers the studentís daily living expenses and textbook costs. These funds are paid to the student, in three installments during the semester, and deposited in a designated bank account.
UK student loans begin to accrue interest on the loan origination date. However, repayment of the student loan is not required until the April after the student graduates or terminates his studies and earns at least £15,000 annually. The interest rate is based on the Retail Prices Index (RPI) which changes in March each year.
The RPI for 2009 is negative (-0.4 percent) . As a result, the SLC announced in May that the interest rate on UK student loans originating before 1998 will be -0.4 percent. For loans originating in 1998 and later, the interest rate will be -0- percent. These interest rates will be in effect from September 2009 until August 2010. During the current financial crisis, this is welcome news to graduates and an excellent opportunity to lower their student loan debt more quickly.
The UK student loans may be deferred due to lower income levels, partial disability, or a continuation of college studies. The loans are deferred for 12-month periods. Repayments can be completely cancelled in the event of death or total disability.
Private student loans are an alternative source of financing available from private lenders. These loans usually have a higher interest rate, require a credit report, and can be secure or unsecured. Private loans are widely available since most financial institutions offer some form of private student loan.