Case studies

The examples below provide an indication of how loan repayments might work in a variety of scenarios.

We don’t know how salaries will change over the coming years, so we’ve assumed that salaries will increase by 1% a year, and have moved the salaries upwards accordingly, based on NHS Agenda for Change bands.

The Government has said that the student loan repayment threshold will increase to £25k from April 2018. We will update our examples to reflect this but for now we’ve based this on the old threshold of £21k with an assumption that the repayment rate stays at 9% of earnings above the threshold.


Vicky is 35 when she starts her three year midwifery course. She hasn’t been to university before. She takes out the maximum loan and is also eligible for the childcare allowance, meaning that she can claim back £155 a week as a grant towards the childcare costs for her daughter. She is also eligible for the £1000 additional grant for childcare announced by the Government in July 2016. She has to travel to placements and sometimes has additional accommodation expenses but can claim these back.

When she graduates in 2020, she starts working full time at the bottom of a Band 5 salary in the NHS; this is now £22.8k (working on 1% pay increases per year), so she pays back £13.50 a month, which comes off her pay automatically. She has caring responsibilities at home, so after a year she decides to work part time, earning £18k per year. This means she is under the threshold for repaying her student loan, so doesn’t repay anything. She decides to come back to work full time and gets a job as a more senior midwife, working at Band 7 and earns £33.6k per year. This means she pays back £95 per month on her student loan.


Dan is 18 when he starts his three year nursing course. He doesn’t have any dependents and he starts work full time on the bottom of Band 5 salary in a care home when he graduates in 2020, repaying £13.50 per month. He is promoted to Band 6 the following year, paying back £50 per month.


Nadia is 23 when she starts her therapeutic radiography course. She has already completed an undergraduate degree in physics, taking out student loans in 2012. She also has a parent who is financially dependent on her, so she can claim an allowance of £2,757 per year. This is a grant not a loan. Under the Equivalent and Lower Qualifications Exemption she is able to take out a second set of loans for her radiography course. She goes through a particularly difficult period financially while she’s on the course and is able to access the hardship funding announced by the Government in July 2016.

When she graduates, she gets a job earning the equivalent of Band 5 in the NHS, paying back £13.50 per month (the usual 9% on earnings above the threshold, not 18%, because the loans are not repaid together). After five years post-qualification, her employer supports her to do a Masters qualification and she goes on five years later to become a consultant radiographer, earning £68.9k per year and paying back £321 per month on her student loans.


Ben is 45 when he starts his dietetics degree. He hasn’t taken out a student loan before. He is able to claim the full adult dependents allowance of £2757 per year. When he graduates, he decides to work part time for the rest of his career, and although he progresses to a Band 7, he still earns below the £21k threshold. This means he doesn’t make any repayments on his student loan.