Loans: help is at hand

Students can claim a bigger loan if their parents have been furloughed, says Paul Lewis

Students walking outside university

Students expecting to go or return to university this autumn may be able to get their maintenance loan increased if their parents’ income has fallen due to the  coronavirus pandemic.

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Millions of people have seen cuts in their income through being furloughed or losing their job. If they have children going to university, that can mean they get more
help with their maintenance.  The maintenance loans paid to students are means-tested on the income of the parent(s) they live with. This year the loan in England is £9,203 a year for students living away from home outside London.  It’s lower if they live at home and higher if they’re studying in London.  That loan is cut if their parental income is over £25,000 a year. The loan falls by around £660 for each £5,000 of extra income. There is a ceiling of £62,249, above which no further reduction is made. That amount is less if they live at home and more if they study in London.

Though the loan is calculated on the previous year’s income, it can be reassessed if there’s sharp change.  Outside Scotland that change is 15 per cent. So if a parent is on furlough and their income is down by 20 per cent, their child would potentially be eligible. It’s important to claim it as the parent is expected – though not legally
obliged – to make up the difference.

A bigger loan means ending up with a bigger debt. But at least 80 per cent of students will never repay their loan in full before it is written off after 30 years, so the majority will not end up paying back more.

The rules in Scotland are different – the loan is assessed depending on which band of income the parent’s income falls in. It can only be reduced if it falls to a band below.  Any student who thinks they may get a higher maintenance loan should contact the Student Loans Company with their details and full information about parental income.

In Scotland, there is a special £5 million fund to help students in further and higher education facing hardship due to the coronavirus.  Apply at your college or university.

Paul Lewis presents Money Box on R4

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