Now that students do not get grants and have to pay their own tuition fees, a change which has only happened in the past few years, most students end up in a significant amount of debt by the time they graduate.
The interest rates on these loans are very high and are not set to make a huge profit but purely to cover the interest rate on the open market. In addition to this, the repayments are not due until the borrower is earning a set salary. Once a year the Student Loan Company contact all of their borrowers and inform them of the minimum salary requirement in order to be eligible to start making loan repayments. The borrower then states their income and has to provide proof of it by way of wage slips covering the previous three months. The Student Loan Company then assess whether they are required to make repayments or not and if they arent the loan is deferred for another year and the cycle repeats itself. The beauty of this system is that all of the loans held by the borrower, which can be up to four in most cases as that works out to one per year of study, are held in the same place. The interest rates are calculated on each loan individually as the first one has been held longer than the fourth and the loans would be for different amounts, but the repayment would be calculated to cover all four. This would mean that only one sum would be paid per month rather than four separate ones.
Should a borrower fail to reach the minimum salary requirement within a set number of years, the loans are cleared and the debt written off. This is done because the majority of university graduates will go on to earn higher than average salaries and so will pay off their loans. It also gives a safety net to those who fail to earn high wages as repayments can be quite high given the total sum many students borrow.