So you’ve been to university, graduated and maybe even started your first job. You’re starting the next exciting chapter of your life. With your degree, however, you may have amassed a significant amount of student debt, about which you may have a number of questions. Do you have to pay it back? When? How quickly? This article will take a look at some of these questions surrounding repaying your student loans.

What are the different plans?

An important consideration to make is which type of plan you have. This will depend on when you started your degree, as well as which country issued the loan. This is important to know as the amount of interest, as well as the minimum thresholds vary between these plans. The below table illustrates the various plans, which will be referred to in the rest of the article:

When you started your course
Country1st September 1998 – 30th August 20121st September 2012 – 31st July 2023

After the 1st August 2023


Plan 1

Plan 2

Plan 5


Plan 4

Plan 4

Plan 4


Plan 1

Plan 1

Plan 1

Northern Ireland

Plan 1

Plan 1

Plan 1

Should I repay as quickly as possible?

Yes and no. Fundamentally, it is a loan, which you are required to pay back. You will be charged 9% of your income a year, as well as being able to make voluntary repayments. However, there are a number of factors to take into account before embarking on voluntary repayments. Firstly, your loan will be wiped out after a certain number of years. This can be anywhere between 25 – 40 years depending on the plan you are on. Because of this, very few students actually end up repaying the full amount. Also, you don’t actually have to start repaying until you reach a certain threshold. This is also dependent on your plan, as illustrated below:

PlanThreshold (as of April 2024)



It is important to note that student loans also don’t affect your credit score. What is advisable is to focus on your other liabilities first. Private loans, mortgages etc. can have a much more detrimental effect on you financially if you default on them. You are liable to pay them back, no matter how much you are earning, and the penalties you might incur could be significantly more burdensome and harmful. This is quite different from a student loan, which offers much more flexibility.

If you are considering voluntary repayments, it might also be worth looking to other means for using that money effectively. It most likely will be more beneficial to you to save that money or put it into an investment account, rather than voluntarily repaying the student loan.

How does interest work with student loans?

This again depends on your repayment plan; however, it is related to the Retail Price Index (RPI). The value of your student loan should fluctuate with inflation, changing every year, with interest rates for the current academic year illustrated below:

Repayment PlanInterest Rate (%)

Concluding Remarks

Thus, there are a number of considerations to take when it comes to repaying your student loan. You need to make sure you understand what repayment plan you are on, and what this means, for instance, in regard to interest rates, thresholds, and expiry dates. Nevertheless, there is no need to worry. Student loans are some of the most beneficial loans you can take out. They are a lot more manageable and flexible than private and commercial loans, as well as not having any impact on your credit score.

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