How Student Loans Are Different in The UK VS. The US

It is always a point of curiosity for us to Brits to discover just how different we are from our cousins over the pond. One of the many ways we do differ is to do with student culture and how we pay for our University, or as they would say “college”, experience.

In this guide on Payday Bad Credit, we take a basic look at how student loans compare in the United Kingdom vs those over in the United States of America. Perhaps we could learn something from each other?

The Cost of UK Student Tuition

It certainly has been a bumpy ride for the price one has to pay to achieve that qualification. In most recent years, the fees were at £3,000 per year – so that was £9,000 ($11,840.54) overall to complete a degree in a UK University for domestic students. However, come the 2010 election everything changed. The conservative government wanted to up the fees and the Liberal Democrats wanted to scrap them altogether. Nevertheless, the Conservatives outvoted the Liberals in this bill as part of their collation government and the fees were raised to £9,000.

Now, the fees have been raised even further to £9,250 by some Universities in the UK. That is a debt amounting to £27,750 for students in the UK. This equates to around $36,508 US.

The Cost of Tuition Fees in the US

In America, the system is different in that there is not a sort of “set price” for undertaking an undergraduate degree. In fact, it is not entirely possible to say what the average cost of an American college is as the fees tend to vary pretty widely depending on the type of university you attend and the length of the degree you take on.


In the States, you can either go to public or private colleges. You can study for a period of two years, four years or even longer in some cases. However, if you do two years, you won’t actually gain a full degree.

The following are the average fees (per year) for each type of college education in the US between 2017-18:

  • Public, 2 Years – £2,537 / $3,335
  • Public, 4 Years (in-state) – £7,086 / $9,315
  • Public, 4 years (out of state) – £18,210 / $23,939
  • Private, 4 Years – £24,692 / $32,457

Most of the top American universities are private and many people who attend have to go on the basis of a scholarship.

Getting a Student Loan

In the UK, there are two different parts to the overall student loan. These are the Tuition Loan and the Maintenance Loans.

The tuition fee loan is used to cover the tuition and will not be seen by the student as it will be transferred directly from Student Finance to the University in attendance.

The maintenance loan is the loan that you will get to aid you in covering your living expenses such as rent and feeding yourself.

In the US, their loans basically cover tuition and living expenses, plus anything else that the student wants to spend money on. In the UK, there is a price cap, but there is not in the same way in the USA.

Interestingly, if you cannot pay back your loan after 30 years of having it in the UK, your debt will be written off. This will also be the cases if the borrower becomes disabled or dies. However, in the USA, you will always have your loan debt regardless of whether or not you can pay for it. Furthermore, if you die before paying it back, it will be rolled over and your family may have to pay up for it.

Daniel is a loans expert based in London and has been working in the payday loans industry since 2010.