According to a new report released by the Student Loans Company, students who have studied at Northern Ireland’s universities owe £3 billion in tuition fee loan and maintenance loan debt. That is equivalent to over $3.8 billion when exchanging the sterling pound for the U.S. dollar.
The reported amount owed by students in Northern Ireland marks a 10.6 percent increase from last year when student loan borrowers owed £2.7 billion.
Additionally, the average student borrower in Northern Ireland that was in loan repayment during 2017 owed £20,990. This represents an increase of just over £1,700 per borrower compared to borrowers entering repayment in 2016.
Since the current loans system began in 1998/99, 222,7000 students in Northern Ireland have taken out loans to cover tuition fees and living costs. However, only 28,100 of those borrowers have fully repaid the loans since the beginning of the loan program.
In 2016/17, Northern Irish students borrowed £196.8 million in tuition fee loans and over £134 million in maintenance loans, nearing a total of £331 million.
These statistics indicate a five percent rise on the amounts they borrowed in the previous year.
In Northern Ireland, students can borrow the full cost of their yearly tuition fees which is set at £4,030 in 2017/18. Average tuition fees elsewhere in the U.K. cost £9,250.
Student debtors are also able to take out a maintenance loan for living expenses which is capped at £3,750 if they live at home, or £4,840 if they live away from home but outside of London.
Students in Northern Ireland that come from low-income backgrounds are eligible for a grant to help them pay for their living expenses. In these cases, the borrowers begin to payback their loans when they get a job and earn more than £17,775 annually. Furthermore, the more a graduate earns, the larger proportion of their loan they are required to repay. Interestingly enough, education loan debt is written off if the student has not repaid within 25 years of starting repayment.
Students studying in Northern Ireland still owe less than those who study at English universities, who owe £32,220 on average if they had to start repaying their loan in 2017.
That is dramatic rise of roughly £7,500 when compared to last years average, a residual effect from the rise in tuition fees in England.
Collectively, students across the UK now owe over £100 billion in student loans. For reference, students in the United States collectively owe roughly $1.41 trillion in student debt, much more than what U.K. students owe.
The featured statistics were released today, June 15, by the Student Loans Company, a government owned body which pays and collects tuition fee and living costs loans to universities and students.
The Student Loans Company’s figures are derived mainly from Northern Irish students studying at universities in Northern Ireland. However, EU students studying in Northern Ireland are also included.
Author: Andrew Rombach
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