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September 15, 2011

Review: BBC Student Loan Calculator vs The Official Student Loan Calculator

Today the BBC launched its website offering to calculate how much graduates will repay on their student loans. But the government also has its own official repayment calculator at Future Students. Which one is the best?

For a newly-qualified teacher, for example, the government's official Future Students calculator estimates your weekly repayments at just 87p.

FS
That is just £45 over the whole year. But before you look forward to spending all your hard-earned cash on expensive summer holidays in the long vacation, take a look at the BBC's calculation. It estimates the same repayments for the same new teacher at £681 for the year! That is 15 times more than the official government estimate! 

BBC
What could possibly explain such a gigantic difference? Well, the BBC one takes account of inflation in prices, and earnings; and discounts the value of money in the future like economists always do; and allows for your age and sex. The government one doesn't.

Actually, to be more precise, the government one doesn't, just like I told them months ago, when I pointed out to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills that Future Students "massively underestimates how much graduates will actually have to pay back each month".

In other words, the BBC calculator confirms that The Official Student Loan Calculator provided by the government at Future Students is a big fat lie.

I doubt that many potential students will be duped into believing their repayments will be as ludicrously low as Future Students promises. But I also have a question. After this, how on earth do ministers hope to persuade the new generation of students that anything else they promise them is true?

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Comments

William - sorry to be dim, but isn't this disparity just because the government assumes the teacher's starting salary to be 21.5 k - i.e., the minimum starting wage for a qualified teacher - and the BBC, bizarrely, assumes it to be 28k plus, probably based on the starting wage including London weighting of about 27k?

@Steve I think you have to reflect on precisely why you think £28k is bizarre for a male teacher's starting salary in 2016.

The BBC has made all its assumptions explicit, so by all means argue it out with them! But as far as I could see, they have followed the government's own assumptions wherever possible. So it's not so much that the BBC is offering an alternative scenario to the government, more that the BBC's calculation is the government's own scenario, done right.

OK, got it, being dim. Though there is a really big difference between male and female teachers' projected earnings for the BBC, which could have been clearer in the original post. A female teacher outside London in five years, even with those sophisticated adjustments to projections, is probably going to be well under the BBC figures.

Thanks for all the good work.

Yes, she would pay less. But still massively more than the government says.

But i cannot understand the huge jump in average salary between ages 24 and 25 of £7.5k in teh BBC calculator - can anyone explain this ludicrous pay assumption

BBC Student Loan Calculator is a great tool, I've just deferred my course untill next year to go onto the 4 degree progamme and am off to college in sept for the first time instead of doing a 5 year foundation degree as the new structure will work out better for me! Especially with the kids, as I am likely to continue with my setting up my own company I am able to set my own wages in the future

Those differences are pretty significant. They should be able to come up with a tool that is a little more accurate.

I think its important for students to know what they will be getting into when they take out a loan and exactly how much they will be on the hook for each month.

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