Completing a university degree is a great achievement. A uni degree can open so many doors and opportunities, with the uni experience itself giving a one-of-a-kind self-progression crash course.

Not so useful, however, is the MASSIVE loan that students are left to pay back. This includes your Maintenance Loan (for living costs e.g rent and food) and your Tuition Fee Loan (for course fees). Repayment can be substantial with interest rates as high as 7.5% for Student Finance Wales and Student Finance England.

However, amongst all the panic, there is good news! Student finance is not like any other regular loan and so comes with fewer problems and baggage that we associate with regular debt.

It’s not “debt”

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Student loans should not be thought of as debt. It does not affect your credit score or have to be paid back immediately.

Firstly, grants and bursaries such as the Welsh Government Learning Grant, Widening Participation Bursaries and any Scholarships you received do NOT need to be paid back. These schemes are to help you along the way financially, without having to worry about reimbursing the government/sponsor.

Secondly, you are not required to pay back the student loan in the same way as a regular loan. The timeframe is more flexible and you only start paying it back when you can afford it, or are earning enough money.

Repayment: Year one

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We stress that Student Finance repayments don’t start until the April after you’ve left your course. Additionally, you won’t pay anything back until you’re earning over a certain amoun. Recent plans in England have lowered the repayment threshold to £25,000. This will affect those who have taken out a loan for the 2023/24 academic year and onwards.

So, there is no need to stress on graduation day, especially if you’re not earning or going into a paid career straight away. Phew!

Repayment: Year 30

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If you took out a student loan before September 2023, you have 30 WHOLE YEARS to pay it back. After this, the remaining balance will be wiped off (yes, you’re allowed to countdown to this day).

Martin Lewis predicts that 83% of graduates will not clear the full repayment within the time frame of 30 years. In light of this, Martin Lewis sees it more as an additional tax rather than financial “debt”.

30 years is more than enough time to repay the loan and repayment can change year by year and month by month. Essentially, if you dip under the repayment income threshold for a year, you will stop paying the loan.

Recent government plans are also extending the repayment time-frame to 40 years but will only affect those taking out a loan for the academic year 2023/24 or later.

Voluntary payments

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Source: Indiafilings

Voluntary payments can be made towards your student loan but there is no obligation to do so.

However, Student Finance Wales recommend that you ‘should consider your personal and financial circumstances and how these may change in the future’ before making a voluntary repayment.

It must be noted that voluntary repayments are non-refundable, however,  they are your choice if you want the weight off your shoulders! (and have tens of thousands lying around spare…)


There really is no need to stress about repaying your student loan.

You should think of it less as “debt” and more as a loan that you will repay when you earn enough, and not until the April after you graduate.

For more help and guidance on your student finance, visit the Student Finance Wales or Student Finance England websites or visit your university’s resident finance advisor.

If you’d like to know more about how your parent’s income affects your student loan or how to make your student loan last, we’ve got you covered! It’s also worth checking out which are the most expensive unis and if they’re worth it.