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NUS responds to freezing of student loan repayment threshold

Thursday 26 November 2015

The National Union of Students (NUS) is disappointed the government has confirmed the student loan repayment threshold will be frozen at £21,000.

The changes were buried on page 93 of the government’s spending review, which was released yesterday. The freezing of the repayment threshold comes despite earlier promises to raise it in line with average earnings. The typical borrower is now estimated to repay an extra £2,800.

NUS has been calling on the government to #StopTheHike of student loan repayments, which will unfairly force extra costs onto graduates. We believe it is unacceptable for the cost of education to be funded by plunging students into debt.

A student on a three-year undergraduate course who takes out a full maintenance loan will graduate with more than £53,000 of debt, plus interest. NUS’ Debt in the First Degree research has shown 43 per cent of £9000-a-year graduates believe their standard of living will be affected by the cost of repaying their student loan.

Sorana Vieru, NUS vice president (higher education), said:

“More than 80 per cent of respondents to the government’s consultation on the freezing of the loan repayment threshold said it was a bad idea. Cut after cut, the government has shown complete disdain for students and their futures.

“The government has gone back on its word and betrayed students who have already taken out loans. Women and BME graduates will be disproportionately affected by these changes, which is another blow for the most disadvantaged students.

“The freezing of the repayment threshold is the latest in a long list of political measures that will saddle the poorest students with excessive levels of debt.

“As maintenance grants are also being scrapped, students from lower income backgrounds will be impacted terribly by the repayment hike. They are being punished simply because they’re poor.” 


Notes to editors:

  1. For more information please contact the NUS Press Office on 07866 695010 or
  2. On the current system, a graduate pays 9 per cent of everything earned above £21,000 per year. When this system was launched, the government pledged that from April 2017 the £21,000 figure would be raised each year in line with average earnings. But they now intend to freeze this threshold at £21,000 until 2021 at the earliest. This means graduates would end up paying more each month than the loan scheme promised when students took out the loan. For example, if you earn £25,000 and the threshold is £23,000, you repay £180 a year. But if the threshold is frozen at £21,000, you pay £360 a year.
  3. The Debt in the First Degree report can be found here.
  4. NUS’ draft consultation response can be found here.