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Student loan payments

Kali85Kali85 Posts: 3Member Listener
I am studying part time with the open university, I receive ESA and PIP due to mental illness, I am worried about paying back my student loans, as although I am deeply hoping to be able to get back into work, sadly I am worried that I wont be be stable enough to work. Everything that I have read online says that I would have to be earning over a certain amount before student finance would deduct money from me, but what happens if I am not working at all? Can I be prosecuted? Will I they deduct money from my benefits? 
kind regards


  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Posts: 5,284Administrator Scope community team
    Hello @Kali85 and welcome to the community. 
    Please don't worry, they won't prosecute you for not repaying and they won't deduct it from your benefits. In fact, if you've not repayed a student loan after a certain period of time, it's written off. 
    Student loan repayments have guidelines in place that mean you won't start repaying until you're in employment and earning over a certain amount. 
    You can find some more information about that here: https://www.gov.uk/repaying-your-student-loan/when-you-start-and-finish-repaying
    Senior Community Partner
  • mossycowmossycow Posts: 486Community champion Pioneering

    Fantastic you are studying! Gives you options no matter how your health is, all earning is awesome and you never know what work opportunities may come your way... Maybe even things we've not thought of yet! 

    In terms of finance, I did my degree worked for a bit and paid a very affordable amount each month and it was taken straight off my pay so dead easy.

    I am now unable to work and I completely understand hwo you feel. But I don't pay anything on my loan. I had to write a letter explainingthis and they right to me each year confirming this... Dead easy! 

    You have the right to study and give yourself the best chance for working or just living your life with more education. That's why student finance works like that, it's a tax in structure really.

    OooOoooO what are you studying (if you don't mind me asking... I'm a teacher so I get excited by studying....). How are you finding Open University in terms of support? I worry that I just couldn't be reliable enough.... Hmmm you've mad eme think.

    Meanwhile, your loan is fine. 

    "I'm trying to live like a random poem I read that ended 'to bloom where we are planted"

  • david235david235 Posts: 170Member Pioneering
    It is important to declare the part-time maintenance loan to DWP if you receive any means-tested benefits, @Kali85 , as it will reduce your entitlement to those benefits. Affected benefits include income related ESA and Universal Credit. Housing Benefit can also be affected by a part-time maintenance loan.

    Indeed, benefits are affected by studying even if there is an entitlement to a maintenance loan that you do not take up - the benefits system treats you as if you receive the loan even if you never applied for it. The underlying policy is that students should live on student finance so far as possible.

    @mossycow - my experience is that the OU is flexible, but only up to a point. Ultimately you do hit hard deadlines: assignments (TMAs) can only be extended for so long, exams can only be rescheduled so many times, final assignments for those modules that have them in lieu of exams (EMA) can be deferred but not extended. Exams can, with appropriate justification, be sat at home.

    Student support is organised on a faculty by faculty basis and can very between faculties. I have had huge problems with law, but received excellent support from business when I did a couple of business modules as part of my studies. Arts has been very good to my disabled partner, who is studying English and creative writing.
  • Kali85Kali85 Posts: 3Member Listener
    Hello all,
    Thank you Adrian that has put me at great ease as I have been worrying about this for a while and trying to find answers online with no luck. 
     @mossycow I am study for a degree in health sciences which I am really enjoying, I love the way their courses are structured it makes it not feel so overwhelming for me, as it’s done like a daily/weekly planner which you tick off as you go along. I like to keep busy to distract myself from my thoughts, and stop myself from sinking into deep depression. I normally struggle to read anything as I cannot focus at all where my minds constantly running marathons, I have to keep re-reading paragraphs over and over just for it to sink in which can be very frustrating at times but I persevere through. The OU have been really good for support as I have had many bad episodes where I struggle just to get through the day, making coursework impossible to do, I have been offered extensions on assignments, I was able to sit examinations at my home, one year I had to drop out of my course due to my MH being so bad and the OU talked me through what my options were, as I was able to bank my previous assignment scores to start the module again the following year, they were amazingly supportive. 
    @david235 I am not sure if I have had a part-time maintenance loan?? I just apply online every year through student finance England for funding for my course which is paid directly to the OU is this the same thing, do I need to declare this? I hope I am not in any trouble for not declaring it ☹️
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Posts: 5,284Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @Kali85, it sounds like an interesting course and it's great to hear how supportive you've found the OU to be.
    The loan you are describing is a tuition-fee loan and this does not need to be declared. :)
    Senior Community Partner
  • david235david235 Posts: 170Member Pioneering
    @Adrian_Scope - Part-time OU students in England are now entitled to maintenance loans in most circumstances, not just tuition fee loans. I agree that tuition fee loans are not declarable, but maintenance loans (or even entitlement to a maintenance loan that hasn't been applied for) of the sort that @Kali85 mentions are declarable to DWP and do affect means-tested benefits.

    If you haven't declared to DWP, @Kali85, you will not be the first person to get caught out by this. Far too often OU students are told "OU study does not affect benefits", which used to be the case but things changed when maintenance loans became available. You do need to declare just the maintenance loan right back to when you started receiving it.

    I was not entitled to a maintenance loan as I started my studies too long ago.
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Posts: 5,284Administrator Scope community team
    edited September 2019
    Hi @david235, for part-time distance learning students (such as OU) this only applies if they are unable to attend a course in person because of a disability. It also only applies to those whose courses began after 1 August 2018. As Kali mentions having to drop out a year and has been studying for some time, this wouldn't apply to her.

    @Kali85, please don't worry, tuition fee loans do not need to be declared. 
    Senior Community Partner
  • david235david235 Posts: 170Member Pioneering
    @Adrian_Scope - the rules you give are SFE's rules for entitlement to a part-time maintenance loan as a distance learning student (e.g. OU undergraduate). I am not aware of them being disregarded as income in social security law and cannot find any such reference in chapter 51 of DWP's Decision Maker's Guide.

    So far as I am aware, the normal rules on maintenance loans apply to these loans. Can you point me to a reference that says otherwise?

    I am not trying to create unnecessary alarm - I just want some certainty before gonig along with the suggestion that these loans are not declarable as income.
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Posts: 5,284Administrator Scope community team
    @david235, you’re misunderstanding me. I’m not saying they are disregarded, I’m saying it doesn’t apply to Kali because she has no entitlement to the maintenance loan. As she has no entitlement, she has no need to declare them. 
    Senior Community Partner
  • david235david235 Posts: 170Member Pioneering
    @Adrian_Scope We were at crossed purposes quite accidentally. Apologies.

    To be clear:

    Tuition fees loan - totally disregarded for benefits purposes.

    Part-time maintenance loan (or entitlement to one even if unclaimed) - must be declared for benefits purposes, likely to affect means-tested benefits.

    The part-time maintenance loan is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it has opened up OU study to some disabled students who previously could not afford to study and were excluded from other forms of higher education because of disability. On the other hand, it has left some disabled students having to take student loans for money they would have previously received from the benefits system.

    @Kali85 - best wishes for your studies. I hope you have been reassured that there is no need to worry about the fees loan - if you never work sufficient to repay anything, it is simply written off after 30 years or at your death.
  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Posts: 5,284Administrator Scope community team
    No worries @david235. And I do agree with what you're saying. The maintenance loans for distance learners are definitely a double-edged sword. 

    All the best with your studies @Kali85! :) I hope we've reassured you that you won't get in trouble for not repaying the tuition fee loan and it won't be deducted from your benefits. You do not need to declare the tuition fee loan to ESA or anyone else as it's not a maintenance loan (nor are you entitled to one). 
    Senior Community Partner
  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Posts: 7,189Administrator Scope community team
    I wish you the best of luck with your studies @Kali85! I hope you enjoy it and it'd be great to hear how you get on. :)
    Online Community Officer
  • Kali85Kali85 Posts: 3Member Listener
    Thank you 😊
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