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Why over-50 students may never repay £67m in loans: Taxpayers could be burdened with huge debts due to loopholes in way money is repaid

In the past year, the number of over-50s - including pensioners - applying for loans has risen by 11.5 per cent

Limits on student loans mean that they only need to be paid back once graduates earn a salary of more than £21,000

Many loans are unlikely to ever be repaid, with the average retirement income only £11,000

By MARIO LEDWITH

PUBLISHED: 23:09, 6 July 2014 | UPDATED: 23:09, 6 July 2014

 

Britain’s baby-boomer generation is claiming up to £67million in student loans every year to undertake degrees - despite knowing they will never repay the money.

The surge in over-50s returning to university could burden the taxpayer with millions of pounds every year due to loopholes regarding how the money should be repaid.

 

In the past year, the number of over-50s - including pensioners - applying for loans to cover their tuition fees and living expenses has risen by 11.5 per cent

The increase follows the Government’s decision to lift age restrictions on those who could apply for loans in order to help older workers retrain and remain competitive in the workplace.

Until last year, when an upper age limit was abolished, only people aged under 54 were eligible for a loan to pay for tuition fees.

 

But youth charities have criticised the influx of older people into universities, claiming that it will increase debt for younger generations, leaving them to ‘pick up the bill’.

 

Figures from the Government-owned Student Loans Company reveal that the number of over-50s claiming a tuition fee loan increased from 4,550 in 2013-2014 to 5,030 this year.

 

Among those claiming financial aid were 540 students aged over 60 and 40 aged above 69.

There was also an increase in those claiming maintenance loans, with 5,070 students above 50 claiming in 2013-2014, compared to 4,510 a year earlier.

 

But many loans are unlikely to ever be repaid, with the average retirement income only £11,000.

The repayments are also stopped once a borrower dies or 30 years after the loan is granted.

Students are entitled to loans of up to £9,000 a year to cover the cost of tuition fees.

 

Limits on student loans mean that they only need to be paid back once graduates earn a salary of more than £21,000. But many loans are unlikely to ever be repaid, with the average retirement income only £11,000

 

Angus Hanton, the co-founder of youth charity the Intergenerational Foundation, told The Sunday Telegraph: ‘Whilst younger generations face the burden of student loan repayments for more than 30 years, increasing numbers of baby boomers are still able to get a university education for free.

 

‘Self-improvement should be encouraged in later life but not at the expense of younger taxpayers having to pick up the bill.’

 

St Patrick’s International College in London was the most popular university among over-50s last year, with 310 successfully applying for loans last year.

The next most popular options were The Greenwich School of Management, the London School of Business and Finance and the University of East London - each attracting more than 100 over-50s students.

 

The Universities Minister David Willetts last year said that older people who return to higher education to keep their skills up to date will be more likely to keep their jobs.

 

The Conservative said that the upper age limit for taking out student loans to cover tuition fees had been lifted.

Pointing out that older people are expected to work for longer before retirement than they were in the past, Mr Willetts suggested that they could struggle to compete against the younger working generation.

 

He said: ‘There is certainly a pressure for continuing to get retrained and upskilled.

‘Higher education has an economic benefit in that if you stay up to date with knowledge and skills you are more employable.

 

Can you get a degree in wine and pork pie tasting..........or perhaps I could get one on classic camper maintenance? :-S...................sounds like a useful way to top up the pension :D

 

 

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