(UK specific!) Becoming a nun with student debt


Hi everyone! I am in the very early and very tentative stages of considering a vocation to the religious life (more than likely the active life, but we will see where the Lord calls me!)

My question concerns student loans. In the UK, student loans work (I believe) differently than in the US. It’s basically a centralised government loan and you don’t pay back anything until you reach a certain salary. Your monthly repayments depend on your salary and what isn’t paid off in 30 years gets wiped off anyway. I believe I have somewhere in the region of £45,000 of debt. I was wondering if this would be an impediment to a religious vocation?

I don’t have any particular order in mind at the moment, so I don’t know anyone to email and ask this question. I understand it’s a problem in the US, but I figured that it would work differently in the Uk, given that loans work more like a graduate tax rather than a loan which must be paid on the month every month.

Thank you in advance! God bless you :slight_smile:



Contact the Religious Life Institute at Heythrop College. They should be able to respond in an informed way.


This is from my organization’s “UK Office”, as I call her:

"She is correct in what she says. If she never earns above a certain amount (at the moment its 25,000 pounds) she’ll never have to pay back anything. If she earns more than that, then a certain percentage will be deducted at source, similar to tax.

There shouldn’t be a problem entering religious life. The congregation will decide what she does. If she works directly for the congregation (they could decide to keep her wages low so that she doesn’t pay back the loan, but pays tax so she doesn’t miss out on a pension). If she works for an outside organization (they might pay her more, but start deducing a percentage of the loan). She must thoroughly explain the UK student loans system to the congregation she joins, so that they understand it (as it is not a loan like any other). She may need to keep her own bank account, until the loan is paid off or written off."

Mrs Cloisters OP
Lay Dominican


Thank you so much for your kindness in taking the time to ask - I appreciate it so much! God bless you.


I think Heythrop is closing, unfortunately :frowning:


That would be a shame. Well, get Sr. Gemma Simonds’ email from the page above and write directly to her. She knows her stuff.


The College is now, with sadness, working towards closure shortly after the 2017/18 academic year. We will be remaining on our current site until October 2018 but there is no plan for the move of any departments or a continuation of Heythrop College anywhere else.


Have you sat down with the Diocese Vocations Director?


This won’t help with women’s religious congregations. They are generally not under the jurisdiction of a diocese.


In our experience here, the Director of Women’s Vocations at the Diocese is charged to work with every order in the Diocese, she is a great resource for information. In the UK they may not have such a valuable liaison on the Diocese staff.


I don’t know how moral it is to go into a convent in order to avoid paying your lawful debts. People fronted you the cash and you promised in good faith to pay them back.

And now you are looking to beat them for it.


Hi :wave: I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the UK system. First, I’m not entering a convent in order to avoid paying my debt - it’s not a deliberate evasion. It is (or might be) the vocation to which I am called.

Also, in the UK, student loans do not function in the same way as other loans - they’re only payable once you earn over £25,000 and they’re cancelled after 30 years. In that respect, they’re quite different to student loans in other countries. If you never earn above the threshold, you simply do not have to make repayments. It’s more like a tax on your income than it is a loan repayment.


Does your parish have a CTS stand? they often have booklets about discerning vocations and religious life (inexpensive) and they have very useful websites as well as information in them, you could contact them to ask. You may want to have a look and see if they are any help. If not here’s the CTS website or the actual physical shop is at Westminster (dont know where in UK you are). Or you can phone them up and see if they know who or where you could get such information. I’ll put my thinking cap on for any other people who might know in the mean time. You are thinking more religious life, than secular or third order?



EVERYTHING is better in the UK


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