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Understanding student loans can be tricky and searching on the internet can be confusing or overwhelming. Read this article for a concise, easy to follow break down with all of the information you will need to fully understand them and feel prepared to start University.

Firstly, you are eligible to apply for a student loan if you live in England and are applying to study at a UK university. If you are applying as an International student, read Future Doc’s blog on Advice for International Students Applying To The UK.

Student loans are different from other loans as:

  • You do not need to repay the loan until you leave your course and your income is over £25,000
  • Once eligible to pay back your loan, your monthly repayments are based on your income (not how much you owe). This means you will pay your loan back gradually over many years
  • Your loan will be automatically cancelled after 40 years

These student loans are managed by the Student Loans Company and Student Finance England.

It is important to note that interest will be added to your loan from the time you start borrowing and until you pay off your loan or it gets cancelled. This interest rate is linked to the rate of inflation and is set at the start of each academic year.

Tuition Fee Loan

This goes towards the cost of your course and will be paid directly to your University. The maximum loan for this is £9,250 per year.

Maintenance Loan

This loan gets paid directly to your bank account at the start of each term and helps with everyday student costs e.g. accommodation and food. The amount you can apply for depends on household income and where you will be studying and living. For example, someone with a low household income, living away from home and studying in London will be eligible to apply for a high maintenance loan. Likewise, someone who has a high household income, is living at home and studying in London will be eligible for a lower maintenance loan than the example above.


From your 5th year of study, the NHS offers tuition fee bursaries and this will cover your tuition instead of via Student Finance. In addition to this, the NHS bursary offers a means-tested bursary between £1,000-£2,643 to help with living expenses.

Graduate entry medicine

The student loan works a bit differently for graduate-entry 4-year courses. You can’t normally apply for student finance if you have previously received funding for a different degree but if you are enrolled on an accelerated four-year graduate entry medicine programme there is an exception. For this, you are able to apply for a partial tuition fee and maintenance loans plus the NHS bursaries. The remaining balance is self-funded. This entails you funding £3,465 in your first year towards your tuition fees. In years 2-4 Student Finance pay £5,535 towards your tuition fees and you can apply to NHS bursaries to pay the remaining £3,715.

If you are a graduate but are applying for an undergraduate standard entry medicine, as opposed to the accelerated graduate-entry course, you cannot access any government tuition fee loans. You can still apply for a maintenance loan throughout your degree and can access the NHS bursaries for tuition in the final year of your degree course.

Other funding

There are lots of other ways to help with funding if needed. You may be eligible for a Disabled students’ allowance, Childcare grant or Parents learning allowance and it is important to research these further if you believe you are. Some Universities also offer their own bursaries so it could be beneficial to research this for the medical schools you are interested in.

Hopefully now you have wrapped your head around student loans and are feeling even more prepared (and excited) to start your course! Now you’ve mastered one aspect, enrol in Future Doc’s 1 ON 1 Coaching programme to coach you through the entire medicine application process.

Written by Ellie Zelisko
Future Doc