Student Loan

Student loans are loans offered to students to assist in payment of the costs of professional education. These loans usually carry lower interests than other loans, and are usually issued by the government. This article details how the systems work in different countries.

Student Loan

Student loans are loans offered to students to assist in payment of the costs of professional education. These loans usually carry lower interests than other loans, and are usually issued by the government. This article details how the systems work in different countries.

1 Australia
2 Canada
2.1 Government loans
2.2 History
2.3 Professional students
3 Republic of Ireland
4 New Zealand
5 Sweden
6 United Kingdom
7 United States
7.1 Loans for Higher Education
7.3 Disbursement: How the Money gets to Student or School
8 External links
8.1 Canada
8.2 United Kingdom
8.3 United States


In Australia, students can pay for university courses using the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS). The selection criterion for HECS is based on the rank achieved in the secondary school final examination. HECS fees are government-subsidised, and are substantially cheaper than full-fee paying places which have lower entry requirements.

Courses are ranked into three bands, with a year's tuition costing around $4000-$6000 AUD. Students have the option of deferring the HECS fee until they start earning above a certain threshold, whereupon they will repay the government through the tax system; the amount owed is indexed to inflation. Alternatively, students can pay upfront at the beginning of the semester; this option provides a 25% discount (2004).

Recent legislative changes that allow a high proportion of full-fee paying places, and lower upfront payment discounts have been a source of controversy.


Government loans

Canadian students are normally eligible for loans provided by the federal government, in addition to loans provided by their province of residence. The loans are normally interest-free until one graduates, and are sometimes supplemented with grants, depending on need.

Students must apply for the Canadian and provincial loans through their province of residence. The rules for what determines your province of residence vary, but normally the province or territory of residence is defined as where you have most recently lived for at least 12 consecutive months, not including any time you spent as a full-time student at a post-secondary institution. In other words, the province of residence is normally the province where you lived before you were a student.

The Canada Student Loan (CSL) provides for a maximum of $165 per week of full-time study, and more money from their province of residence. All Canadian students may also be eligible for the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation Bursary (CMS Grant), and other grants provided by their province of residence.

For students in British Columbia for example, they may be eligible for a maximum of $14,300 combined loan and grant funding per year.


From the Department of Human Resources:
The CSLP was created in 1964. Since its inception, the Program has supplemented the financial resources available to eligible students from other sources to assist in their pursuit of post-secondary education. Between 1964 and 1995, loans were provided by financial institutions to post-secondary students who were approved to receive financial assistance. The financial institutions also administered the loan repayment process. In return, the Government of Canada guaranteed each Canada Student Loan that was issued, by reimbursing the financial institution the full amount of loans that went into default.
In 1995, several important changes were made to the CSLP, reflecting the changing needs of the parties involved in the loan process. The Government of Canada developed a formalized "risk-shared" agreement with several financial institutions, whereby the institution would assume responsibility for the possible risk of defaulted loans in return for a fixed payment from the Government. During this period, the weekly federal loan amount was increased to a maximum of $165. On July 31, 2000, the risk-shared arrangement between the Government of Canada and participating financial institutions came to an end. The Government of Canada now directly finances all new loans issued on or after August 1, 2000. The administration of Canada Student Loans has become the responsibility of the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC). There are two divisions of the NSLSC, one to manage loans for students attending public institutions and the other to administer loans for students attending private institutions.

Professional students

Most charter banks in Canada have specific programs for professional students which can provide more funds than usual in the form of a line of credit, sometimes with lower interest rates as well. Students may also be eligible for government loans that are interest free while in school on top of this line of credit, as private loans do not count against government loans/grants.

Republic of Ireland

Although third-level tuition has been free in the Republic of Ireland since 1997, for other student expenses most of the major banks offer interest-free or cut-rate loans to students. There has been discussion on re-introducing fees, as recommended by the OECD, with deferred payment similar to the Australian system; i.e. a loan from the government repaid after graduation. The suggestion has however, been quite unpopular.

New Zealand

The New Zealand state provided student loans and allowances are available to tertiary students who satisfy the funding criteria. Full-time students can claim loans for both fees and living costs while part-time students can only claim training institution fees. A non-refundable means-tested student allowance for living expenses can be claimed by students who are over 25 years old or whose parents have a low income.

Loans are repaid by a 10% tax surcharge on income, once the student graduates and is in employment. There is a minimum income level, roughly equivalent to the unemployment welfare benefit payment rate, that is exempt from assessment and an interest rebate that can be claimed for low income and while the student is studying full-time. Loan recipients who leave New Zealand are assessed on their world-wide income for repayment purposes, with a minimum annual payment being required.

In recent years, large student loan debts have meant that many recent graduates have sought higher paying overseas work in preference to remaining in New Zealand. This has led to skill shortages in some professions as local employers have been unwilling or unable to match international salaries. Medical-related professions have been particularly hard hit due to recent graduates, having high loan debts and health employers, having tightly controlled government funding.

In the 2005 general election one of the election policies from the Labour Party was:

During our next term in govt, we will abolish all interest charges on student loans for all students and NZ based graduates from 1 April 2006.

-- [1] Retrieved October 2005.


Study support and student loans in Sweden is administered by the Swedish National Board of Student Aid, a Swedish government agency.

United Kingdom

British undergraduate and PGCE students can apply for a loan through their local education authority (LEA) in England and Wales, the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) or their local education and library board in Northern Ireland. The LEA, SAAS or education and library board then assesses the application and determines the amount that the student is eligible to borrow, as well as how much tuition fees, if any, the students' parents must pay. The family's income, whether the student will be living at home, away from home or in London, disabilities and other factors are taken into account. 75% of the full loan (around £3,000) is available to all students, with only the final 25% being means-tested (taking the total available up to as much as £4,000). It is paid in three instalments during each year of the student's course (one per term). Special rules apply for some courses and for part-time courses.

Loans are provided by the Student Loans Company and do not have to be repaid until students have completed their course and are earning £15,000 a year (£10,000 until April 2005). The interest rate is updated annually and is tied to inflation (currently 2.6%), making the loan interest-free in real terms. The loan is normally repaid using the PAYE system, with 9% of the graduate's gross salary over £15,000 automatically being deducted to pay back the loan. There is no particular schedule for clearing the debt, but, if it has not been cleared 25 years after repayment began, or the student turns 65 years old, the remaining debt will be cancelled.

The Higher Education Act 2004 will make significant changes to the loans system in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from 2006. Up front tuition fees will be abolished, with the fee being added to students' loans for them to pay back after their course is finished. However, instead of the tuition fee being fixed at around £1,150 for all universities (which, due to means-testing, not all have to pay), universities will be able to charge variable fees of up to £3,000. Critics claim these top-up fees will create tiers of "expensive" and "cheap" universities, and make university financially inaccessible to many students. As a result, there have been national demonstrations and protests by students' unions.

United States

Loans for Higher Education

While included in the term "financial aid" Higher Education Loans differ from scholarships and grants in that they must be paid back. They come in several varieties in the United States
Federal Student Loans made to students directly: No payments until after graduation, but amounts are quite limited
Federal Student Loans made to parents: Much higher limit, but payments start immediately
Private Student Loans made to students or parents: Higher limits and no payments until after graduation.


Federal student loans in the United States are authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act as amended.

The first type are loans made directly to the student. These loans are available to college and university students and are used to supplement personal and family resources, scholarships, grants and work-study. They may be subsidized by the U. S. Government, or may be unsubsidized depending on the student's financial need.

Both subsidized and unsubsidized loans are guaranteed by the U. S. Department of Education either directly or through guaranty agencies. Nearly all students are eligible to receive them (regardless of credit score or other financial issues). Both types offer a grace period of 6 months, which means that no payments are due until 6 months after graduation, or 3 months after the borower becomes a less-than-full-time student without graduating. Both types have a fairly modest annual limit regardless of the student's actual cost of education. The present limit in January 2006 is $2,800 per year.

Subsidized Federal student loans are offered to students with a demonstrated financial need: generally requiring a low family income. For these loans, the federal government makes interest payments while the student is in college. For example, those who borrow $10,000 during college will owe $10,000 upon graduation.

Unsubsidized federal student loans are also guaranteed by the U. S. Government, but the government does not pay interest for the student, rather the interest accrues during college. Those who borrow $10,000 during college will owe $10,000 PLUS INTEREST upon. The accrued interest will be "capitalized" into the loan amount, and the borrower will begin making payments on that accumulated total. For example, those who have borrowed $10,000 and had $2,000 accrue in interestwill owe $12,000. Interest will begin accruing on the $12,000. Students will also choose to pay the interest while college.


Usually these are described as PLUS loans (Parent Loans for Ungraduate Students). Unlike loans made to students, parents are able to borrow much more - usually enough to cover any gap in the cost of education. However, there is no grace period whatsoever. Payments start immediately.

Parents should be aware that THEY are responsible for repayment on these loans, not the student. This is not a 'cosigner' loan with the student having equal accountability. The parents are on the hook to pay and if they do not do so, it is their credit that will suffer. Also, parents are advised to consider "year 4" payments, rather than "year 1" payments. What sounds like a "manageable" debt load of $200 a month in freshman year can mushroom to a much more daunting $800 a month by the time 4 years have been paid for through borrowing. The combination of immediate repayment and the ability to borrow substantial sums can be dangerous.

Parents should also be aware that current legislation will raise the interest rate on these loans significantly, to 8.5% as of July 1, 2006.


These are loans made to students by private finance companies: sometimes banks, sometimes specialized education lenders. Advocates of private student loans suggest that they combine the best elements of the different government loans into one: They generally offer higher loan limits then direct-to-student federal loans, ensuring the student is not left with a budget gap. But unlike to-the-parent government loans, they generally offer a grace period with no payments due until after graduation. This grace period ranges as high as 12 months after graduation, though most private lenders offer 6 months.

Rates and interest Private student loan rates are lower than non-specialized private loans (e.g. "signature" loans) but slightly higher than government loan rates. That may be changing, as pending legislation would raise government student loan rates to similar rates as private student loans.

Most private loan programs are tied to one or more financial indexes, such as the Wall Street Journal Prime rate or the BBA LIBOR rate, plus an overhead charge. Because private loans are based on the credit history of the applicant, the overhead charge will vary. Students and families with excellent credit will generally receive lower rates and smaller loan origination fees than those with less than perfect credit. Beginning a few years ago, money paid toward interest is now tax deductible.

Fees Private loans often carry an origination fee. Origination fees are a one-time charge based on the amount of the loan, they can be taken out of the total loan amount, or added on top of the total loan amount, often at the borrower's preference. Some lenders offer low-interest, 0-fee loans; but these are usually available only to those with high credit scores of 800 or more. More commonly, loan origination fees are from 3-9%. While a 0 fee loan at Prime+3% interest might not sound bad, some contributors suggest that borrowers are better off paying a modest fee to get a lower interest rate, as is often done with mortgages. Each percentage on the front-end fee gets paid once, while each percentage point on the interest rate is calculated and paid throughout the life of the loan.

Eligibility Private student loan programs generally issue loans based on the credit history of the applicant and any applicable co-signer/co-endorser. This is in contrast to federal loan programs which deal primarily with need-based criteria, as defined by the EFC and the FAFSA. For many students, this is a great advantage to private loan programs, as their families may have too much income or too many assets to qualify for federal aid, but insufficient assets/income to pay for schooling without assistance.

Additionally, many international students studying in the United States can obtain private loans (they are ineligible for federal loans in many cases) with a co-signer that is a United States citizen/permanent resident.

Disbursement: How the Money gets to Student or School

There are two distribution channels for Federal student loans. The channels are identified by their names: Federal Direct Student Loans and Federal Family Education Loans. Federal Direct Student Loans, also known as Direct Loans, or FDLP loans are funded from public capital originating with the U. S. Treasury. FDLP loans are distributed through a channel that begins with the U. S. Treasury Department, and from there passes through the U. S. Department of Education, then to the college or university and then to the student. Federal Family Education Loan Program loans, also known as FFEL loans or FFELP loans, are funded with private capital provided by banking institutions (ie: banks, savings and loans, and credit unions). Because the FFELP loans use private capital as their source, students who use FFELP loans are able to take advantage of payment options that are similar to those available to customers who take out a home loan or a consumer loan. For example, some institutions will allow a discount for automatic payments, or a series of on-time payments. In 2005, approximately 2/3 of all federally subsidized student loans are FFELP.

The maximum amount that any student can borrow is adjusted from time-to-time as Federal policies change. A study published in the Winter, 1996 edition of the Journal of Student Financial Aid, titled “How Much Student Loan Debt is Too Much” suggested that debt for the average undergraduate should not exceed 8% of total income after graduation. Some financial aid advisors have referred to the 8% level as “the 8% rule.” Circumstances vary for individuals, so the 8% level is an indicator, not a rule set in stone. A research report about the 8% level is available on the internet at [[2]] Follow links to --> Reports and presentations -- How Much Student Loan Debt is Too Much?

For Private Loans it is far simpler. The lender generally disburses the money directly to the school. Any funds borrowed beyond tuition and fees is given to the student for living expenses, room, board, etc.

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