Ways to Avoid Paying Back Your Student Loan in the UK

In University by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

Graduation can often feel like the end of the chapter for your university days. However, for most students, there will be a permanent reminder that stubbornly lingers. While university will leave you with the degree, the memories and a range of life skills, it can also leave you with the dreaded student debt.

While often feared by students, student debt and the repayments, don’t have to be so scary. In fact, you will probably get used to them pretty quickly. However, if you meet certain criteria, you may not even have to.

Continue reading to learn more about the circumstances that may mean that you don’t have to pay back your student loan. This article will help you to better understand student loan repayments and the requirements for paying it back.

Disclaimer: Please make sure you follow the government guidelines when it comes to paying off your student loans.

1. Earn under the threshold

There is an extremely easy way that many individuals avoid paying back their student loans and it is very simple! All they have to do is have a yearly income below the threshold value.

The government state a certain amount of money an individual has to earn in order to begin repaying their student loans. This is because if their income is too low, having to worry about repaying student loans could be detrimental to families which are already struggling with having enough money.

There are different threshold values depending on what plan you are following for repaying your student loans. The different plans and their corresponding threshold values can be read in more detail on the government website if you click here. You can also learn more about these thresholds further down the article.

If you always earn an amount of money per year which is below the threshold value, then you will not have to repay your student loans. How much you pay back is all relative to how much you earn. This concept is further discussed in this article from Think Student.

2. Move country

Many students believe that if they move country, they won’t have to pay back their student loans. The Student Loans Company from the UK can surely not reach them abroad, right?

Wrong! If you do attempt to move abroad to avoid repaying your student loan, you are bound to fail. For starters, this is actually illegal. This is because you are avoiding paying money to the government, which is rightfully theirs! After all, you were only borrowing it for your time at university.

You will definitely still have to pay your student loan back even if you do move abroad. You will have to notify the Student Loans Company and tell them that you will be leaving the UK. You will then have to fill out an Overseas Income Assessment form to give them all of your information.

Then you just have to make sure that you stay in contact with the Student Loan Company! You can read about this process in more detail if you check out this article from Wise.

Therefore, you can’t avoid repaying your student loans if you move abroad. If you attempt to do this, you will be given a penalty of a ‘fixed monthly payment’. This payment per month will likely be more than the amount of money you would have had to pay if you didn’t try to outsmart the student loan system!

As a result, it is best to not try and move abroad to avoid the payment. It probably won’t work.

3. Have a disability

If you have a disability and become unfit to work, there is a chance that your student loan repayments could be cancelled. However, to do this, you will need to provide sufficient evidence.

You can find out more information about this on the government website, if you click here. However, it is not advised to get a disability just so you don’t have to repay your student loans! This may be slightly too extreme.

If you already had a disability before university, you would have been entitled to extra grants and bursaries to help you in your studies. As a result, you may have borrowed less money from the government due to these extra bursaries, which you do not have to pay back. If you want to discover in more detail what bursaries are, check out this article from Think Student.

As a result, there is a possibility that you may have to pay a smaller loan compared to other students who have no disabilities. If you have an accident or health issue, you may also be able to avoid repaying your student loans.

This is because your illness or accident could make you unfit to work. As a result, you probably won’t earn enough money to go above the threshold value.

4. Don’t earn over the threshold until your 50th birthday

According to this article from the Money Saving Expert, your student loan is actually written off 30 years after you graduate. As a result, if you earn below the threshold value until 30 years after the April of graduation, you won’t have to pay a penny back!

Therefore, if you graduated at a later age, then you will have to wait longer than your 50th birthday. The age you are fully free from the potential of paying student loans is 30 years after you graduate.

This is because, as previously discussed, you only have to repay your student loan once you earn above a certain threshold value. Consequently, if you earn below the threshold value until you are about 50 years old, then you will not have to pay your student loan back!

However, this may not be worth it, as your income will have to be pretty low for the majority of your life for you to avoid paying back that student loan. You can discover more about this strategy for avoiding repayment and other extravagant ways for avoiding repaying the loans if you check out this article from Vice.

5. Loan forgiveness programmes

Another way you can avoid paying back student loans is by being part of a loan forgiveness programme. This is when graduates don’t have to repay their loans because they have met certain criteria.

For example, if a student completes certain voluntary services or takes part in a military position, there is a chance that their loans could be written off. These type of programmes are more common in the United States, However, they could potentially be an option for graduates in the UK according to this article from Acrosophy.

You probably haven’t heard of loan forgiveness programmes because they are not usually implemented to many students and are not normally heard of in the UK. Graduates normally have to wait 30 years for their loans to be written off and forgiven.

This article from Techmaster tools explains how loan forgiveness programmes could be beneficial if they are used in the UK. However, their usage should be mainly for low-income households or for those individuals who are struggling to repay their loans.

6. Death discharge

This strategy for avoiding the payment of student loans is definitely radical and definitely not recommended. However, it is true that if you die and haven’t paid back your student loans, these will not have to be repaid.

The debt won’t be passed on to family members at all. The money you owe will instead just be cancelled and written off. This is true according to this page from the government website.

As a result, you could probably avoid paying back student loans if you pretended to die. However, again, this is not recommended. This is because it is illegal and let’s face it, that is a very hard feat to pull off!

You can find out more about what happens to your student loan debt if you die if you read this article from Think Student.

So far we have discussed a few possible ways to avoid repaying your student loans. However, this is not recommended. It is best to just follow the system and pay back what you need to. You can find out what happens if you don’t pay your student loans back in this article from Think Student. Continue reading for more information on whether it’s possible to not pay back your student loans and why you shouldn’t worry about these loans.

Is it possible to not pay back your student loans?

In general, you will need to pay back your student loan(s), whether this is a tuition fee loan, a maintenance loan or a postgraduate loan, as well the interest that you owe on top of that. Although, these payments will generally not start instantly because they’re based on your income. To learn more about this, check out this governmental guide.

However, under certain circumstances, it is possible that you will not need to pay back your student loans, whether this is permanently or temporarily. To learn more about what these are, check out the next section.

It is also possible that you will not have to fully repay your student loans. This is because in the UK, your student debt will be cleared 30 years after you’ve finished university, regardless of if you’ve finished repaying or not.

In fact, it is quite likely that you won’t as reports have found that as much as 83% of former students won’t be able to pay off their student debt in full due to not making enough to do so. To learn more about this, check out this Think Student article.

Moreover, it is possible to not pay back your student loans in the unfortunate case of death. This is because if you die before repaying them, the Student Loans Company will cancel your student debt, meaning that it won’t be up to your family to repay it and it won’t come out of your assets once you’re gone.

This will be done as long as a friend or relative informs the Student Loans Company of your death. They will also need to send them evidence, this will be a copy of the death certificate alongside your Customer Reference Number. To learn more about this, check out this Think Student article.

What scenarios do you not have to pay back your student loans?

In the UK, paying back your student loan will be based on your income. This means that if you’re making below a certain amount, you won’t have to pay back your student loan until your pay increases above the threshold.

The exact amount that you need to earn before paying back your student loan will depend on which plan, you’re on. In the UK, there are 5 different plans, which you are on will depend on where you’re from, when you started studying and what level you studied at.

Please refer to the following table to see if the amount you make will put you below the threshold, meaning you won’t have to make student loan repayments.

Plan Threshold
Plan 1 £1,682 per month
Plan 2 £2,274 per month
Plan 4 £2,114 per month
Plan 5 (from August 2023) £2,083 per month
Postgraduate loans £1,750 per month

Please note that these thresholds are change regularly and that this data is true as of March 2023. To learn more about these thresholds, check out this governmental guide. If you would like to learn what the different plans mean, check out this Think Student article, which will take you through it and how the repayments work.

Also, if you become permanently unfit to work, the Student Loans Company will cancel your debt. To meet the eligibility requirements for this, you will need to be receiving disability-related benefits, such as Personal Independence Payments, Disability Living Allowance, Industrial Injuries Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance.

You will also need to send evidence to the Student Loans Company. This includes your Customer Reference Number as well as copies of a letter from a doctor or consultant, saying you’re ‘permanently unfit to work’ as well as your most recent letter from the benefits agency, showing you get disability-related benefits. To learn more about this, check out this governmental guide.

Should you worry about paying back your student loans?

While paying back your student loan can often feel something to avoid at all costs, the fact that it is income-based means that it’s not. This is because being above the threshold to start your repayments can be a good thing as it means that you are making enough money to be able to do so.

Also, compared to other types of loans, such as mortgages, the amount you have to repay each month is much more manageable. In a similar way to tax, how much you have to pay each month in repayments will be a percentage of what you make above the threshold. For the undergraduate repayment plans, the repayment rate is at 9%, whereas for postgraduate loans, it is at 6%.

To calculate how much you will have to pay per month, you will need to subtract the threshold from your monthly income and then work out the percentage. To see the data more clearly, check out the following table.

Plan Threshold Percentage
Plan 1 £1,682 per month or £388 per week 9%
Plan 2 £2,274 per month or £524 per week 9%
Plan 4 £2,114 per month or £487 per week 9%
Plan 5 (from August 2023) £2,083 per month or £480 per week 9%
Postgraduate loans £1,750 per month or £403 per week 6%

Once again, please note that this data is true to March 2023 and so if reading at a later time, these figures may have changed. To learn more about these figures, check out this governmental guide.

Is it worth avoiding paying back your student loans?

Paying back your student loans can often feel scary as there’s so much involved and as it can take out quite a bit from your earnings. This may even lead you to feel as though it is something to worry about or something to avoid.

As mentioned above, repaying your student loans is neither of these things. It isn’t something to be worried about and it most certainly isn’t worth avoiding.

This is because not having to pay back your student loan means that you’re not able to. This will often put you in a more difficult financial situation and can also affect you personally, depending on why you don’t need to repay your student loans.

Also, going out of your way to not pay back your student loans, even if legal, can be self-sabotage. This is because making choices, such as avoiding a job with a higher salary just to avoid repaying your student loans can have a negative impact on your career development.

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