Education & Family

Graduate loan rates: Students react

Image caption Effectively interest-free student loans may no longer be available

The government is considering asking all but the poorest graduates in England to pay a "market" rate of interest on their student loans.

Currently all graduates pay a low interest rate, linked to the base rate, on their tuition fee and maintenance loans.

An official review of higher education funding, published on Tuesday, is also expected to call for the cap on tuition fees to be removed.

Here, BBC News website readers have been sharing their views on the story.

Your comments

I am appalled at the idea of uncapped tuition fees - I am from a poor town in Greater London and have siblings who are much younger. By raising the fees my siblings would be unable to access further education - my parents simply could not afford it! The only thing that raising fees does, is make the rich more able to access education and prevent those from lower backgrounds from achieving their full potential. I am extremely angry at this and at the social injustice that this will cause - in essence, people from lower class backgrounds won't be able to get a degree - meaning that they won't have access to higher paid jobs (due to a poor education background). So all the well paid jobs will go to those with rich and wealthy backgrounds. Sounds like the Conservatives. Janet Smith, Barking, Essex

So we spend three to four years extra (on top of A-levels) not earning a salary (or very little), have huge amounts of debt and have no guarantee of a job. Then on top of that we now have to pay large amounts of interest on that debt and still pay more tax in the long run to support those who don't bother. University sounds like a great idea! Phillip Evans, Holywell

I think it is ridiculous that the government is expecting a student to be able to pay that much to attend university. Even now students leave university with over £20,000 worth of debt. What advantage or incentive is there for someone to go to university to better themselves or this country if they have to spend the rest of their lives paying it off, and that's if they even manage to get a job that they have worked hard for. I think the government shouldn't be targeting students, but the people who are benefiting from not working. Putting extra debt on students is only going to slow the country's growth as the number of highly skilled professionals decreases and the amount wanting benefits increases. C Lacey, Bristol

Raising tuition fees would be fairly terrible, but having different universities charging different fees would be 19th century. Access to education must be based on the ability of the student, not the class of the parent - this is central to a free society. Oliver, Bath

I'm currently a third year undergraduate and I can't find a decent reason to oppose tuition fee increases. Obviously I don't want to pay more, who does, but if university costs a certain price then students have to weigh up the costs and benefits just like any other purchase. As for the comment about there being "concern in the party about a market-based system developing", if anything we should be supporting a market-based system to help make universities more efficient and offer better value for students. It still strikes me as odd that a media studies course at Portsmouth costs the same each year as it does to study Chemistry at Warwick. Two different courses, two different universities, two different job prospects, yet it costs the same to study at both. A market based system would allow for a shift in university prices which better reflects the quality of the course. Also since students are given loans for tuition it would not deter poor students from attending expensive universities as the quality of the course will lead to a better job, making the whole process affordable. Rob T, Birmingham

By the time I finish my four-year degree at Glasgow University, I've calculated that I'll be in around £20,000 of debt. If tuition fees and interest rates were to rise, then I'm sure lots of people, including myself, will question their decision to go to university. Andrew Davidson, Ormskirk

The cap definitely should not be removed. I have just started my second year at university and I believe the fees are already high enough. The decision to go to university is affected heavily by the fees, so by increasing these we are going to see a rapid decrease in the number of young people applying for further education, mostly those from poorer backgrounds like me. It will mean so many young people will not have the chance to better themselves and create a better future. Ashley, Liverpool

It is true that graduates generally earn more in pay. This means that they also pay more in income tax for the rest of their lives! They pay for that education over and over again through their taxes. Is asking for yet more money from these people (or their parents) fair? Aside of the money aspect though, some of these better educated people will discover or invent things which will greatly benefit our country. Again, these benefits will go on and on into the future, repaying the country a thousand times over. Making it even less attractive than it is already is perhaps a short term cost saving exercise but also a long term loss to the exchequer of all that extra repeat tax revenue! Paul Faulkner, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

My concern as a parent is that if the fees more than double with very little notice that there is no time to budget for that. I see comments about fees in the US, for example, but the fact is that parents know about that from the moment a child is born, and have tax incentives to save up for that. I have no problem in paying my fair share of costs, but I do have a problem finding a large amount of extra money without having had the chance to save it up in the first place. Mick (parent of two students), London, UK

My son is currently studying for his A-levels. He is hoping to study medicine at university but, having supported one child through university, I find the thought of tuition fees increasing for a five or six year course quite daunting. Surely a course that ultimately leads to a career caring for our society should be subsidised heavily or we will end up with either a shortage of doctors or doctors who are only qualified because they can afford the fees. Jane Trafford, Bolton

I have just started my third year of study at the London College of Fashion. When I graduate next May I will have a debt of around £27,000 which I will have to pay back. If loan rates were increased how would I ever be expected to pay this back? Wanting to buy a property and lead a good life will be even more difficult if rates are increased, adding to the financial strain that I am currently under as a student in London. The debt that I have accumulated over the past three years has also been supported by my part-time employment earning around £6,000 a year. I would not be able to live in London without this. Although my parents are deemed to be earning "good money" they are not in a position to help me with rent or general living in London. The whole student financial system is wrong and needs to change, other factors should be considered such as the financial assessment of a student. I have not been put off by the finances of studying as I am motivated in achieving my aspirations, however other students may not feel the same. I feel that it will put students off studying at university if more financial pressure is imposed on them. Grace, London

I am currently studying social work in Sheffield and I find it rather difficult to understand why the government wants to raise tuition fees or the interest rates for students. Do they want teachers, doctors, social workers? At this rate a lot of students will not be able to afford to qualify in those professions. If prices do go up then there will be less people studying those courses, and that will not benefit society at all. Philip Wright, Sheffield

I graduated in medicine in 2006, after seven years at medical school (having done pre-med and an intercalated degree). I worked as an health care assistant throughout my time at university. My student loan still stands at £18,000. I have been over-paying the loan, so that I pay £500 a month as opposed to £290 they are taking. My loan has not been reducing much at these interest rates. If you suddenly increase it to market rates, it would become ludicrous - the government will be simply profiteering on the backs of the poor who wish to elevate themselves from poverty by education. Ben Burrows, Bristol

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