14 stages of the loan cycle every student goes through

Student Loans occupy a unique place of love and loathing in the hearts of most students, but don’t fret. You. Are. Not. Alone.

We are, of course, forever grateful for the Student Loans system and the fact it allows us to eat more than just boiled rice for the entire academic year.

But only just. We’d be lying if we said it was all plain sailing.

With more than a decade’s experience of living off the good old Student Loan system, the Save the Student editorial team are well acquainted with the roller coaster of emotions involved (and you will be too when you read this!).

Please, share in our pain and learn from our mistakes. Do it for us.

14 stages of the Student Loan cycle


    It’s 30 minutes to the deadline, and you only assumed it would be a 10 minute job.

    Now you’ve lost your National Insurance number, and your mum’s off to aerobics so she can’t fill out her part of the student finance application form.

    Learn from our stupid mistakes and make sure you complete your form well in advance.

    Missing the deadline can mean your payments are severely delayed, and you really will have to eat boiled rice every day.

    Also, don’t forget you have to apply for Student Finance every academic year – and this will often be before you’ve broken up for the summer holidays. Don’t say we never look out for you.

  2. The seemingly endless wait for loan day

    Who knew the wait for cash could be quite so long and torturous?

    If you’ve gone back to university early to catch up on studying, or live that dream of independence full-time, waiting for loan day can seem like a small lifetime of its own.

    The wait will end eventually, we promise.

    If you’re looking to diversify sources of cash income, we’ve got tonnes of great ideas on how to rake it in plus here are some tips on how to survive until that cash lands in your account.

  3. Watching everyone else roll around in baths of money

    So you’re sat at home feeling extremely broke and sorry for yourself. You sneak a casual glance at your Facebook feed and BOOM! Suddenly you’re overcome with the feeling that you’re incredibly hard done by.

    Why does it feel like everyone and their dog has got their loan through already, whilst you’re stuck at home watching the Hollyoaks omnibus and eating Sainsbury’s Basics super noodles?

    Well, the reason for this isn’t that the world hates you. Really.

    The Student Loans Company tailors loan payment dates to your university and course.

    That’s why your mates at different universities get their dosh first. But don’t worry. It’s likely the tables will turn in two weeks’ time, when they’ve spent all their cash.

  4. STILL not having your loan

    waiting for student loan

    Okay, we know, waiting is absolutely pants. But there’s not a lot you can do other than suck it up and wait for it to come through (bar throwing an angry pout or two).

    Make sure you have a decent budgeting system from the start (yes, we know, we sound like your parents) and you won’t have to scrimp and save prior to your next instalment.

    If your loan is genuinely delayed though, make sure to contact Student Finance at the earliest possible moment, and read our guide to surviving if your Student Loan is late.

  5. Going to the cash point at two minutes past midnight

    You know your loan date is the next day, and well, it’s technically already tomorrow, so why wait until you wake up in the morning, right?

    You can almost feel the sense of camaraderie at the student halls cash point as you all file down to get your hands on some crisp new £10 notes and head promptly to the student union supermarket.

  6. Feeling like a small-scale millionaire


    When you’ve become so used to counting your coppers to see if you can afford a cucumber at the local Tesco Express, we really can’t blame you.

    If you like the feeling of watching the money pouring in (and who doesn’t?) check out our guide to finding a part-time job and get that pay-day feeling as well as that student loan feeling – double win!

  7. Going on an inevitable spending spree…

    buy all the things

    So those trainers you’ve had your eye on, that you totally can’t afford? And for some reason it really feels like pizza night is in the air…

    It takes some serious self-restraint to stop the money splurge when your loan comes in, but do try to control yourself!

    Unnecessary purchases will only come back to bite you on the bum later on in the term when you really need money for essentials like… uh… food and bills?

    So, at the risk of sounding like your parents, we urge you to try and resist (a bit).

  8. And a hella awesome night out…

    Even if you’re not tempted by the lure of material goods and all the chocolate you could ever want, it can be extremely hard to say no to the night of your life in the campus bar.

    And who are we to deny you a good party? Just try a night-out money saving tricks like starting the night off with pre-drinks and cocktails at home, and only taking as much as you intend on spending.

  9. Where you buy ALL the drinks…

    buying rounds

    When you feel like you’re swimming in cash and you’ve racked up a few G&Ts, it’s often time for the generous soul within you to emerge. Shots all round?

    If you are splashing the cash, at least make sure you’re only buying for your genuine bezzies – and impress upon them the importance of getting you a drink afterwards. It’s only fair, after all.

  10. Then watch rent payments ruin your riches

    paying back your student loan

    One minute you’re rolling in it, and the next minute it’s ALL GONE. And probably not because you had the party of the century, unfortunately.

    Once your rent and bills have left your account, you can be left feeling like it was gone before you even had chance to make friends!

    If you’re keen to stretch out your loan as far as it can possibly go, check out our guide on how to get the best deal on your energy bills. That way, there’s more spare for all the lols.

  11. Wondering exactly why you bought ALL the things

    When did you decide you even liked leopard print anyway?! Who knows what you were thinking when you bought all this stuff, but in the cold light of day – and with a bare bank account – regret will be looming.

    For some items, if you bought them less than 28 days ago (14 if bought online) and they’re still good as new, you can always return it to claw back your cash.

    Or if not, we’ve got some stellar tips for how to sell your unwanted gear on eBay.

  12. Feeling extremely poor and vowing to budget

    Don’t say we didn’t warn you earlier! But you will eventually come to the realisation that you shouldn’t have spent quite that much on amaretto and kebabs when you’ve got a whole term to get through.

    It’s never too late to start budgeting though, and we’ve got shedloads of great advice on how to get through the uni year financially unscathed.

  13. Realising this will be your last ever loan instalment…

    last student loan instalment

    As the third term of your final year rolls around, a strange feeling will engulf you… this will be your last instalment of your Student Loan. Ever.

    From hereon in you’ll have find your own cash for places to live and fun exploits – here’s how to find a job!

  14. And now you have to actually pay it back…

    It’s insanely tempting to think of your loan as free money, but unfortunately you will end up paying it back eventually.

    Thankfully, you won’t start paying back anything back until you’re earning a decent wage, and it’ll always be 9% of what you earn, no matter how much your salary is.

    If you want to prepare yourself for how much you’ll see exiting your bank account, you can find out in a few clicks with our calculator.

    We’d also recommend getting your head around what’s to come, using our guide to understanding your Student Loan repayments.

Phew, that just about sums up our roller coaster of emotions on board the student loans express! But remember, if you save a bit more money, you should hopefully be able to spend more time doing #7, and less time doing #12!

If you want to swot up more on the ins and outs of Student Finance, check out our big fat (and wonderful) guide.