A student loan is a type of loan designed to help students pay for post-secondary education and the associated fees, such as tuition, books and supplies, and living expenses.
It may differ from other types of loans in that the interest rate may be substantially lower and the repayment schedule may be deferred while the student is still in school. It also differs in many countries in the strict laws regulating renegotiating and bankruptcy. This article highlights the differences of the student loan system in several major countries.
Tertiary student places in Australia are usually funded through the HECS-HELP scheme. This funding is in the form of loans that are not normal debts. They are repaid over time via a supplementary tax, using a sliding scale based on taxable income. As a consequence, loan repayments are only made when the former student has income to support the repayments. Discounts are available for early repayment. The scheme is available to citizens and permanent humanitarian visa holders. Means-tested scholarships for living expenses are also available. Special assistance is available to indigenous students.
There has been criticism that the HECS-HELP scheme creates an incentive for people to leave the country after graduation, because those who do not file an Australian tax return do not make any repayments.
The province of British Columbia allows the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia to withhold issuance or renewal of driver’s license to those with delinquent student loan repayments or child support payments or unpaid court fines.
South Korea – Korea’s Student Loan
Korea’s student loans are managed by the Korea Student Aid Foundation (KOSAF) which was established in May 2009. According to the governmental philosophy that Korea’s future depends on talent development and no student should quit studying due to financial reasons, they help students grow into talents that serve the nation and society as members of Korea. Through the management of Korea’s national scholarship programs, student loan programs, and talent development programs, KOSAF offers customized student aid services and student loan program is one of their major tasks.
Student loans in the United Kingdom are primarily provided by the state-owned Student Loans Company. Interest begins to accumulate on each loan payment as soon as the student receives it, but repayment is not required until the start of the next tax year after the student completes (or abandons) their education.
Since 1998, repayments have been collected by HMRC via the tax system, and are calculated based on the borrower’s current level of income. If the borrower’s income is below a certain threshold (£15,000 per tax year for 2011/2012, £21,000 per tax year for 2012/2013), no repayments are required, though interest continues to accumulate.
Loans are cancelled if the borrower dies or becomes permanently unable to work. Depending on when the loan was taken out and which part of the UK the borrower is from, they may also be cancelled after a certain period of time usually after 30 years, or when the borrower reaches a certain age.
Student loans taken out between 1990 and 1998, in the introductory phase of the UK government’s phasing in of student loans, were not subsequently collected through the tax system in following years. The onus was (and still is) on the loan holder to prove their income falls below an annually calculated threshold set by the government if they wish to defer payment of their loan. A portfolio of early student loans from the 1990s was sold, by The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in 2013. Erudio, a company financially backed by CarVal and Arrow Global was established to process applications for deferment and to manage accounts, following its successful purchasing bid of the loan portfolio in 2013.
In the United States, there are two types of student loans: federal loans sponsored by the federal government and private student loans, which broadly includes state-affiliated nonprofits and institutional loans provided by schools. The overwhelming majority of student loans are federal loans. Federal loans can be “subsidized” or “unsubsidized.” Interest does not accrue on subsidized loans while the students are in school. Student loans may be offered as part of a total financial aid package that may also include grants, scholarships, and/or work study opportunities. Whereas interest for most business investments is tax deductible, Student loan interest is generally not deductible. Critics contend that tax disadvantages to investments in education contribute to a shortage of educated labor, inefficiency, and slower economic growth.
Prior to 2010, federal loans were also divided into direct loans (which are originated and funded by the federal government) and guaranteed loans, originated and held by private lenders but guaranteed by the government. The guaranteed lending program was eliminated in 2010 because of a widespread perception that the government guarantees boosted student lending companies’ profits but did not benefit students by reducing student loan costs.
Federal student loans are less expensive than private student loans. However, the federal student lending program still generates billions of dollars in profit for the government each year, because the interest payments exceed the government’s own borrowing costs, loan losses, and administrative costs. Losses on student loans are extremely low, even when students default, in part because these loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy unless repaying the loan would create an “undue hardship” for the student borrower and his or her dependents. In 2005, the bankruptcy laws were changed so that private educational loans also could not be readily discharged. Supporters of this change claimed that it would reduce student loan interest rates; critics said it would increase the lenders’ profit.