It wouldn't have been possible for me to go to university without a student loan. I love the fact that it is income assessed and that high earners don't qualify. I know students at university who didn't use there loans they went into high earning savings accounts and there parents paid. They just took the loan because they could get interest in an ISA twice what the interest on the loan was. This is what gets peoples backs up about them. Other people have no intention of paying them back and some even go abroad.
The loans are a great thing, they help people from modest backgrounds go to university, without them only the priveleged would get the chance to go to university and less well people would either be put of university education or simply unable to afford it.
Essentially overall it is a great thing. Without it social migration would suffer and money would continue to go to money. I love the idea that if you work hard in school and get the grades you will have the same opportunity at higher education as the privaleged sections of society.
Its the same argument as the same fiasco. It needs tight regulation to stop the sytem being abused. People are exploiting it but if you stop it then you only really punish the genuine people who really need it. It needs to be tightly regulated and this is where the student loans company falls down. Its services and regulation are simply rubbish.
As a parent I found things went well until my son changed his course to a four year with Industrial Placement. When he failed to get a placement, then the fun started. We had to switch back to the three year course again. The SLC software does not cope with a change of course dates within an university very well, it says you must leave a course before you start a new one even at 3rd year. We are stuck with the software demanding we send his passport for evidence even though he is a third year student and has had loans for the past two years!
I actually believe in paying for education. I think young adults should actually consider whether the debt they are taking on will pay off in the long run, and if their chosen course will enable them to approach a career with a capable and educated mind. So in principle, I am in favour of the student loans company.
In reality I find this monolith possibly the hardest company to deal with I have ever had the misfortune to come across. Except perhaps BT, and thats really saying something.
Student Loans company is sold to young adults as being interest free, rises or falls with inflation. Except thats not really true, since this year the loan is set at 0%, and inflation was at -0.6% at the date it is supposed to be set from. So in actuality this year you loan is gaining interest, since it is loosing purchasing power in the real world.
I borrowed £9,000. This was the minimum loan, and covered my fees while I was at university. Upon leaving university this had already risen to over £10,600. It took over 2 years of working full time on a £26,000 a year job just to reach the original £9,000 borrowed.
And best of all, I only know this because I made a spreadsheet for myself. This August I called the student loans company to find out how much I still owed. The most up to date figure they could give me was March 2007, over 18 months earlier! If my bank ran their opperations like that there would be protests in the street!
I will be very glad when I am shot of my student loan, but for now, like millions of others, I'm lumbered with it.
Right, i no the whole student loan process has come in for a lot of stick lately, and, from the sound of things, it is all very just and it deserves it.
However, i am a great advocate of hearing 2 sides of the story, which is something that this company has definately not received in recent times. It has been slated and slated after failing to dish out the required loans for the start of term. However, when you consider the amount of work it has to go through, it is not surprising that a backlog does occur.
I would also like to say, that i have never had a bad experience with this company.
I first signed up to the student loan company website last august, shorlty before attending university for my fresher year. I filled out the information in good time, and received my loan, prior to going to university, just as i should have done.
When it came to reapplying this year for my second year at university, i also had no troubles. I even managed to test out the customer service system. I had lost my ART id, which is basically your unique number to log in to the site. The next day i phoned the company, i found them to be very hospitable and i quickly had my ART number without much drama and reapplied straight away.
A few weeks later i received by letter saying that i had once again been approved and that my tuition fee had already been paid to my university. It also informed me of the dates which i would be paid my maintenance loan. The first of which, was the 24th september.
So, with great anticipation, after the masses of bad press over the summer, the date came, and sure enough, there it was. My money was where it should be, in my bank account!
Thus i would like to put out there that this company is not all bad. I fully accept that yes it has obviously made mistakes and there were some horror stories about students not receiving their loans. However, there are always two sides to every story, this did not happen to me and therefore it gets a big thumbs up from myself.
**My Undergraduate Experience with Student Loans**
My run-ins with student loans have been a mixed bag. Through the 3 years of my undergraduate Drama degree 2005-2008 their system was flawless. When I did my application form in 2005, it was handwritten and as 'straightforward' as it could be. There are many variables which can dictate the amount of loan you recieve and what money you are entitled to i.e. disability allowance, medical courses receive extra grant etc...but otherwise I was able to work out what was neccessary, send in my parents information in order to have my loans income-assessed and therefore getting that bit extra because my parents couldn't help me through my studies. I also carried 2 jobs whilst at uni to supplement the loans.
So yes, through those three years I filled in the forms by hand each time and for the most part, with a few phone calls here and there to clarify that everything was correct, I received my payments on time, my university received my student loan without delay and I had no problems, as such. The one instance that stands out as problematic was in my final year where, as is the same across the board, I received less. This was scary; I had to take on extra work and balance two jobs because being in my final year lowered my entitlement. Conveniently where my loan lowered, my overdrafted opened up and here I am paying off the dreggs of that still a year on.
So I've had a year out where I've worked; finding work wasn't easy but it gave me time to review my options and so;
**My Postgraduate Experience with Student Loans**
Welcome to the current bane of my life. I started my postgraduate teacher training course 2 weeks ago and am living off the money I earnt over the summer working in a kennels. I upped sticks and moved to London from rural Somerset and it is far from cheap let me tell you! Being a postgrad and teacher training course, I cannot sustain a job. I am in every day for the full day with enough reading and homework to fill every day of the week and the work load is only going to increase. My rent is a couple weeks away and student loans have failed to up there game. I applied for my loans in May, filling it in online which is a new option for me and it was all quite smooth and straightfoward in terms of the information I needed to provide. Being 22 I am still entitled to be means tested against my parents income but I am completely independent - nothing will be coming from them. So on the 22nd May my indentification documents are received - the last element to my loan application. 3 days later it is back with me.
Problem 1) I call in August as nothing appears to have happened. I am told my application would not have been assessed and I should call back at the end of August to see where it is.
Problem 2) My account says I need to send in my passport but it also says they've received my passport. Whoever received it forgot to put in the date they returned it. This error puts my loan into limbo as evidently the information has been received but is not flagged up properly despite the errors.
Problem 3) I call up in the first week of September and explain that the tax office have given my father the wrong tax code - one that says he has 2 jobs but he has only ever had one. Fine; we'll get you a non-means tested loan but in 8 weeks the paperwork should be done for a means tested loan and they'll get me that money once it's done. But she does note that if I hadn't called, my loan wouldn't have gone through because of this I.D. anomaly on my account. She says she'll sort it out.
Problem 4) Uni starts; no money. I give them a chance as no one on my course has their money. I give them a week. I cannot get through to the offices; I am queuing for nearly half an hour to an hour at a time. I haven't got my loan; I cannot afford to call this 0845 number for that long. I finally get through on 23rd September; he says I don't need to send in my I.D. and it was a baffling problem so he said he'd speak to the relevant people and they would call me tomorrow.
Tomorrow comes. The site and call centre are down for maintenance. No phone call is received.
I call early on the 25th September. The woman I speak to is struggling to understand me and so repeatedly says "Send in your I.D. Send in your I.D.". I explain the situation but she doesn't get it so repeats herself. I write an arsey letter with 2 forms of I.D to be sent this Monday. Today (saturday 26th) a letter from student loans is on my door step saying "Please send in your passport". The first piece of paperwork I have recieved from the in 4 months!!
Effectively 2 months of phone calls and being told that I did not need to send in my I.D. only to finally be told that yes, we need it again is exceptionally frustrating. Doing everything 4 months ahead of time was far too optimistic! Weighed up against my anxiety about being able to pay my rent when it could take up to 6 weeks to send me my money and sort it all out, I have to say student loans is currently not in my good favour.
So do I recommend them? Yes; but you need to be on the ball and on their case. Send them too much; if you get a similar problem, sod what they say and send it any way. Do not become too reliant on them; have a back up i.e. interest free overdraft, parents because if you do have any upcoming debts, student loans may not be on the dot with their payout. If, like my undergrad, everything gets the thumbs up then you can expect a predictable services. Otherwise, keep on their case and harrass them untill you get what you need. Write down every instance where you've contact them; get the names and if possible a direct number to those you are speaking to! Good luck if you're going for it - you're going to need it!
Being a student I feel it is my duty to provide a review of the Student Loans Company.
The Student Loans Company is a company set up by the government to provide financial support to students applying for university, these are usually in the form of A) A tuition fee loan, B) A maintainance loan C) Maintainance grants / Any other Bursaries.
This is the second year that I have had to use them and I must say that overall I have found them relatively easy and straightforward to deal with. Applicants simply have to fill in a load of forms giving their name and address e.t.c. before deciding whether or not to apply for means tested assistance ( this is the grants that students get if they come from a poorer background i.e household income is less than around 30k) the grants are non repayable sums of money given to you. If you wish to have this you then get sent a number of forms to prove your families income levels are what you say they are so that the SLC can process it and determine whether or not to approve your request for support.
There didn't seem to be any problems with either of the applications that I sent off but I know that my friends have not quite been so lucky with many being asked to resubmit information for a third time despite their application having already been approved. As long as you are careful in reading the paperwork and only filling in what is needed then you should be ok.
In terms of repayment rates, you need to be earning over £15k per year and even then the repayments are small, the overall interest rate you pay makes them the cheapest loans around (so even if you are lucky enough to not require them, it is worth considering having them for when you finish uni and want to buy something like a car) with a typical interest rate of around 2% (although currently around 0%). If you don't pay your loans back within 25 years then they are abolished and if you feel like your university tuition has not been worth it then you can even claim the tuition money back.
One thing that is worth noting is that the SLC seem to be very wasteful when it comes to paper use, they have sent me the same piece of paper (my overall payment summary) 6 times when 1 would have sufficed, if they have done this for every student then they must have wasted a lot of money!
Overall they are a service that every student will need and as long as you do them early enough and correctly you shouldn't find yourself in any problems.
I imagine that the vast majority of UK students studying an undergraduate degree will take out a loan with SLC at some time or another. I was no exception. I found the setting-up process straightforward, the money was received into my account on the correct dates each time, and I even applied for a loan top-up in my final year which was approved and received without issue. After graduating, you have until April of the following calendar year before your repayments become due. You have to earn at least £15,000 before you have to make repayments, and then the money will be removed from your salary by your employer before you receive it so you don't have to worry about setting up the repayments yourself. This does make life a lot easier.
There are massive down-sides to the SLC; they seem incapable of sending out up-to-date statements and each January you will only get a statement that goes up to April of the previous calendar year. Does it really take nine months to calculate these amounts and print these statements? Or do they just do it in January because it's their quiet period? Who can say.
My repayments started the April after graduating and at first I was only just covering the interest (about £18 a month from a £10,000 loan) so it was really disheartening to get a statement through for that first year only to see that my balance was still the same as when I'd started. But once you start earning more and the repayments get higher you start to actually make a dent in it and it all starts to feel less of a weight around your neck. When I first started making repayments I felt that I'd be retired before it was anywhere near repaid. But after eight years of making payments I have now worked out that I only have four years left, assuming that I keep paying at the same rate throughout.
I read up on some reviews of the SLC a year or so ago and they were all warning about keeping a close eye on your repayments and, as a result, I decided to go through everything I had ever paid to them, because prior to that I was just trusting that everything was in order. I got out all my payslips and everything seemed to check out ok until 2004-05 where I had changed jobs in the year. I worked out that I had paid about £300 more than SLC had received. I checked with SLC and they claimed they never received it. I then started going round the houses to find out where the money was and, to cut a long story short, SLC had received it but had not credited it to my account. After admitting their mistake it then took another 6 months before I got a revised statement showing the payment and, luckily, they removed all of the interest on that portion for the following years. Okay, so £300 is not a lot of money but that is not the issue. I can only say that in the defence of SLC they were always really pleasant when I spoke to them on the phone and once the error was picked up on they did sort it out for me without too much hassle (although a long delay).
If I had my time again I would still take out a loan with the SLC, even if I had other loan options, because on the whole they have been quite good. But personally I have started keeping my own very accurate records of exactly how much I pay them each month, what my current balance is and what the interest rate is for that month. I then check it against my annual SLC statement to make sure that everything is as it should be. I would strongly advise others to do the same. This is also essential because the SLC WILL NOT AUTOMATICALLY STOP TAKING YOUR REPAYMENTS EVEN WHEN YOU HAVE PAID EVERYTHING OFF. They expect you to tell them and your employer when you should stop making repayments and at the end of the year if they owe you any money or if you owe them any money it will be sorted out then. But if you do not tell them then they will continue taking your repayments regardless.
Just another word to do with SLC incompetence - a friend of mine who graduated at the same time has manage to slip through the net and, even though she has been earning above the threshold for several years, has never been asked to repay a single penny. Lucky for some!
I am currently in the process of applying for financial help as I am starting univeristy in September this year as a mature student.
With this i'm moved to write a review about the Student Loans Company and the whole support system. So here it goes;
To explain what financial help is available to all UK students, there are 3 main types of help available:
Tuition Fee Loan - This is a loan that everyone is entitled too no matter how much money they or their parents earn. Most EU students also get this Loan. This loan simply goes straight to university each year to pay for your tuition fee. You don't see a penny of it and it goes to funding the university and it's facilities. At the moment the vast majority of univeristies are charging the full capped amount of about £3,500 a year.
Student Maintenance Loan - This is a LOAN that you get from the state to cover the cost of living expenses. You have to pay this back eventually (unless you earn under £15,000 a year after university, you don't have to pay any of the tuition fee or maintenance loan back until you start earning over £15,000 a year). Everyone is entitled upto 75% of the loan, the rest is dependent on other factors (like how much Maintenance Grant you are receiving). Most students get the 75% which is about £2,500 per year.
Student Maintenance Grant - This is a GRANT that you have to apply for. You do not have to pay it back as it's a grant not a loan. The amount of grant you recieve per year from the state depends on how much you or your parents earn and other more complicated reasons such as if you are married (they take your wife/husbands income) or have children (where you get different types of grants instead) or are disabled etc. You have to give proof of income and ask the state to financially assess you to be considered. If you or your parents earn less than £25,000 a year then you get the full £2,900 per year. £25,001-£60,000 works on a sliding scale. Anything over £60,000 and you will not get any grant at all.
Other grants include the disabled allowance, child support grant and a hardship fund (for those with a severe financial burden) and so forth. It's a rather unclear and highly complex system.
So let's be honest. We're probably some of the most well paid students in Europe if not the world. My girlfriend has come here to study from Germany and was shocked by just how much support we get as students in this country. They certainly do not get this kind of support on most of the European mainland and in many countries universities are so overcrowded that students have to sit on the floor during classes and seminars. In France there have been crippling student strikes earlier this year over financial help and staff pay.
Yet you still hear so much complaining. Why!? When we have it so good here?
We don't just have it good when it comes to financial support either; We have an absolutely incredible choice of degrees to study and can choose to apply for any university in the UK we want. In countries like Germany this is much more restricted and the choice of subjects to study are much more restricted depending on what subjects you took at the equivalent of A-level.
You only have to talk to an EU student to realise how good we have it here.
Maybe it's just because us Brits are a nation of complainers!
Yes, it's true we do leave university with a heavy debt to pay off to the state. Yes, tuition fees are high. But the fact is, the repayment of student loans is a fair system; You don't have to pay a penny back until you earn over £15,000 a year. And then you have the right to Hold Repayments for a period of upto 5 years no matter how much you are earning! My friend has just finished university and is complaining that he has to pay his student loan back each week in his paycheck as well as income tax, National Insurance and council tax...Well, he could quite easily just Hold Repayments if he was struggling that much!
As for high tuition fees, well I think it's money well spent; British degrees are very well respected across the world, we never have students having to sit on the floor due to overcrowding and generally speaking our universities are well equipped (Many universities even have their own nightclubs! Luxury!) and the choice of degrees on offer now is phenomenal (some would say ridiculous).
So how easy is it to apply for all these loans and grants?
Well, recently it's all possible and simpler to do it all online via the student direct website. You create an account that you can link to your UCAS account (the seperate account you use online to apply to univeristies and courses) where it transfers over a lot of your personal information saving a lot of time and hassle. Then the whole process is done online. You answer questions and fill in the forms and click on send. You will have to send income evidence in the form of P60's, bank statements etc to be income assessed for the student maintenance grant, but other than that it's all done online.
After completing the online application and sending off the financial evidence you will get a form a few weeks later through the post which you have to sign and send back to confirm and approve of all the loans/grants and the amounts they have assessed you for. Then that should be it. You get your payment schedule through the post nearer the start of term.
Now, it's a fairly efficient system if you get everything right in the application first time. I can't really knock it. It is confusing yes, but then I don't see any way they could make it simpler really so I can't really criticise them for this.
But what if you (or them) have made a mistake like me?
Ok, so it was 100% my fault. I was sick of filling in endless amounts of forms at the time (I was applying for a passport renewal as well as two insurance claims and so forth) so I rushed through the application for financial support and it turns out I made a major mistake by not applying to be assessed for a Student Maintenance Grant. Big problem because this was about 3 grand of free cash down the drain! Panic set in and so I rang student finance direct to ask them what the hell I could do.
I wont tell you the whole tedious and painfull story otherwise we'll be here all day!
The number is a very expensive 0845 number. It takes about 4 or 5 minutes of pressing numbers for various options until I am told by another robot/automated response that I now have to enter my 11-digit long customer reference number. Fine okay. Then I have to enter my pin number. Oh, what's that? I didn't get that in any email. Oh wait, the robot on the other end tells me it's simply "the first four digits of the day and month of your birthday. For example, 10-05 would be the tenth of May." Fine then. I press in the digits. I wait. I still wait..."The customer reference number and pin do not match, please try again". Okay, I try again, this time very carefully entering and triple checking each number. I wait. I still wait..."The customer reference number and pin do not match, please try again".
After much swearing and cussing into the phone and re-entering the same numbers on average 4 or 5 times you finally get told you will gert to speak to a human being asap.
Victory!! But no, wait. You are treated to around 10 minutes of the latest chart hits and put on hold with an intermittent automated message telling you every minute "The line is currently busy, it may be easier for you to visit our website. If you would still like to speak to one of our advisors, please hold the line."...More cussing from me ensues.
Finally, you get to speak to a human being, but by this time I am usually flciking through the paper infront of me or have fallen asleep and have forgotten what to ask! But of course, that doesn't really matter, because the advisors you speak to after 15 minutes of waiting ( 8 quid phone bil, where does our tax money go I wonder? Not on customer service helplines obviously) may as well be asleep! What an anti-climax after all that waiting!
The first two advisor I spoke to just seemed to want to get rid of me. He told me I should download a pff1 form from the website and fill that in and send it to the Student Loans Company in Darlington. This turned out to be a completely useless form that I may as well use as toilet paper to wipe my arse with.
The second advisor was a bit more talkative and friendly, though this guy, like the first, had a thick Scottish accent. I'm not quite sure why Student Finance England chose to situate there helpline in Scotland since they have a different loans system to England and no offence to the Scots but I find it hard to understand a thick Scottish accent sometimes just as they'd probably find it hard to understand a thick Cornish or Cockney accent.
But anyway, although this guy was a bit nicer, he told me to download another form that was again completely useless...More toilet roll then.
The third and final attempt was made this morning, and after a paticularly long wait and several helpings of Britney Spears I got to speak to someone without an indescernible accent and he turned out to be extremely patient and helpful. I'm pretty sure now that this is the right form (but I guess you never know with there helpline!).
So after spending 30 quid on a series of phone calls and wasting 5 hours of my life on bogus forms I finally have the form I need...Probably.
Fingers crossed I will get my maintenance grant by the start of term!
Overall I have to say I cannot really complain about how much financial assistance I will recieve. With my additional £1,000 bursary from the university I will be getting almost £10,000 per year to study.
The only problem is with the Student Finance England helpline which is quite frankly absolutely appalling on every level.
Still, £10,000 a year in financial assistance more than overrides this flaw for me. We have arguably the best university education system in the world and this costs money. I wouldn't want that to change for anything.
Student loans, grants etc is a huge farse. The system is just so complicated! I started university sept 08, received the basic tuition loan and maintenance loan due to the government saying my parents earn enough to help me out. I cant get any grants through the university due to my parents earning enough. So for my first year i have lived off my mum and dad. But others have received extra loans and grants but have relatively the same background as myself. Between the date i applied for my loans and now, my parents have struggled with cash due to the credit crunch, but does this mean im entitled more next year to help me out?!?! Ok i agree that people who's parents cannot afford to help them out, are entitled to any money to help them, but i believe the system is abused.
Everything is so complicated also! Since i started uni there was a system in place where you apply through you local authority. Now you have to apply through the loan company. But because im changing my course and applying for funding next year, who do i go to?!?! After months of ringing around, people past me from one person to another. Not only are students confused but people within the system are also!
It's helpful to have money, but if they think that the money given is enough to live on, they are sorely mistaken.
My situation at the moment: I've just had my semester's rent taken from me by the university accommodation services. It's only October. How much do I have left now? Less than £20. For the rest of term, I'm having to rely on my overdraft while still desperately seeking a job (and believe me, I've been trying since August - no luck yet.)
My problem with them is that I entered university last year, and then had some sort of emotional/personal crisis, resulting in me leaving university and taking an interruption of study. I've returned this year, starting my first year again, and - although I'm in no different position to the rest of my classmates - I'm on last year's system for the loans. Some of you may be aware that they changed the system this year, and the amount of grant each student can get has raised dramatically. I worked it out, and if I was on the new system (like I believe I should be, since I'm in first year like everyone else, and like I believe EVERY current student should be - not just brand new 2008 entrants), I would be getting DOUBLE the grant I am now. This would mean that I would right now have considerably more than £20 to my name. However, I'm on the old system, and the company have decided that only new entrants can get more money... The increase in money that PREVIOUS students have campaigned for.
Is this fair? No. Will it change? Probably not. But I see no reason why only new entrants should benefit from the new rules regarding grants, when it's the current (ones who entered before 2008) students who campaigned for this change. What's the difference between them all?
And now I'm down to one meal a day because I simply can't afford anything more. Well done, Student Loans Company, well done.
When i went to uni, like most students, i too took out a student loan. It does normally take a little time for the loan to actually come through. The money was a huge help since i had very little to survive upon, although it still wasnt enough. Student life can cost alot. After some time, i ended up leaving uni without finishing my course due a number of reasons. So i left and informed the student loans co. Every year i would defer my loan as i wasnt yet earning much.
Not long after i began another course, which included studying a foreign language. During the period In between the two courses, i worked for a while (extremely hard, doing plenty of overtime etc) and saved up some money so i could go abroad for a few months in order to really pick up the language i was learning. Before i went, being the a good citizen and consumer, i informed the student loans company that i would be abroad for a few months (by phone). After having spent a few months abroad, i returned back. The next 3 years was kind of ok, doing my studies and trying to get by in life.
Next thing you know...i get a telephone call (remember, they had not contacted me for 3 years or so, and i had completely forgotten about my student loans during this period having been so busy) ...theyre demanding payment of a debt amounting to over £2100!! (the total loan amount i took out was just over £3500 i think) ...work that one out! As i spoke to the representative over the phone, being so shocked at this, i began to ask her why i was being asked to pay this amount. She told me it was because i had not deferred my payments, but when i responded and told her that i had not recieved any contact and nor any of the forms for the deferrment, she begins telling me it is MY fault?!
When i asked why, she told me coz i had not informed them that i had changed my address?! huh?! I was only abroad for a few months, i had never changed my address i explained. But rather than dealing with the situation, she turned very nasty and began demanding payment. She wouldnt even allow me to ask reasonable quiries as to why i was being made to pay such a big sum.
As i was still a student, not being able to pay anything as such, i explained this to her. But it just seemed as if they could not care less! All they were interested in was the money. Over some time, i had a few conversations with them. During each conversation, as i tried to ask why i was being made to make these payments (as i was not earning anything, and the agreements was to only begin repayments when i am earning above the natiol average), none of them gave me any real answers, and always pushed for payment. They threatened me with balif's, court action etc.
Anyway, after some time and disagreements, to avoid any further complications i agreed to start repaying some of the money (which i had to borrow, or rely upon my parents for and i even made this clear to them). I was promised that, if i made payments then when the next period of deferment comes, they will review my case, and i was promised i would only have to make payments till then. So i did as such, made payments for a few months. Then filled in the next set of deferment forms and sent them off.
A week or two later, i receive a letter stating that the loan has been deferred, but i was still owing over £2100 which was to payed off in 7 days! My god! They just get worse and worse!
So finally i decided i would no longer deal with them until i get satisfactory answers as to why they are demanding payment. I wrote a letter to this affect. Two weeks later i get a reply to say it was due to my failure to defer payments.
Doing a little research, i realised that they actually had a legal responsibility to keep their data 'accurate and upto date' according to the data protection act of 1998. They also had a responsibility to keep a debtor informed about their account status and any monies owed. So i wrote to them again explaining this.
A second reply i got, they claim that they had fulfilled the law as my family had informed them i was abroad and had changed my address?! (I spoke to my family, and they told me that they had said no such thing!) ...And that because they had passed on my case to a investigator to locate my where abouts they had fulfilled the data protection act criteria. Which i cannot understand, as i had NEVER changed my address and if they had an investigator locating me, how could they have not known for over 3 years that i was still at the same address??!! And they only reason they knew is coz they called my family to demand payments of the debt.
This is my situation at the present time. Take my word for it, be extremely cautious!!! They are a bunch of cowboys, who are unorganised, they dont care about anyone, they seem to have such a poor service and all they care about is money. Which they will try to get it from you anyway they can. I have another friend who has had a very similar experience with them. What a headache they have become!
Watch out for them. They are literally like a pack of volwes after your money. It's all they care about.
Ok, now I have not been a student for a number of years and was one of the last few to still get a student grant and had no tuition fees to pay, but still needed a student load to be able to study at Uni. Therefore I ended up with a nice student loan upon leaving Uni.
What is the Student Loans Company?
This is / was in my time a Gov't scheme to lend you money so that you can study and get a degree. The thinking is that you do not repay the money until you are working and earning £18,000 a year (NOTE: This was the threshold when I took out my student loan, this was reduced down to around £15,000 a few years after I had graduated).
When do you have to repay the Loan?
The rules now are that if you are earning in excess of £15,000
per annum then you have to start repaying your loan in the April after you have graduated.
EDIT: As per one of the comments, just to clear up a potential question, the rule is as I understand it, when you start earning £15,000 a year (based on your last 3 pay slips) then you will start repaying your loan in April. Basically the year always runs from April, and you can defer the loan before then, should you be accepted to defer, then you do not need to repay the loan, should you not be accepted (based on your last 3 pay slips as mentioned) then you will need to repay your loan at the amount that the student loans company says.
What Interest Rate is there for the loan?
Current rate (as of 29/04/2006) for people studying 05/06 is 3.2%
OK, my experiences with the student loan company:
Now I will say that I have been very pleased with the service and way my student loan has been handled. I first deferred my loan for a number of years as I was not earning the threshold to repay it at the time, and have since been repaying the loan by Direct Debit.
I should say that I have had no problems at all, I had one slight problem when I forgot to defer my loan and they wanted me to repay a number of months because I had forgotten to defer the loan, however upon discussion with them managed to avoid that. I found them helpful and useful in my situation.
One thing to note is that they do change the rules in some parts as they go along. For example they reduced the starting amount of when you had to repay the loan for me and I have been advised that my loan was sold to a bank (NOTE: I still get the same conditions as before and this has not made any difference to me at all).
I have found the interest rate of my student loan very good and to be honest could have paid it off some time ago if I wanted to, but prefer to keep the money in my bank account for when I need it. This has served me well and will soon have repaid the loan.
One thing I would mention here and I do apologise that it is slightly off topic, but you should consider before taking out a student loan that you do have to repay it. Ignore the whole talk about not repaying it until you earn £15,000, lets face it most jobs a graduate will be going for is going to pay you more than £15,000. Therefore remember that you should you take out your loan and earn £15,000 then you will need to repay the loan and it will not matter whether you can afford to or not. Therefore (and this is the off topic part) do consider all options before going to Uni, including whether and when you will be able to repay the loan. After all unless you are going to gain by getting a better job (that will allow you to repay the loan quicker) you should consider whether starting a job earlier is better. However having said that, I will note that I do not think that I would have got any of my 4 jobs without having had my 2:1 degree.
Anyway, in short my thinking is that the Student Loans Company have been good to me, the money allowed me to study at Uni and I have had no real problems with them that has not been able to be sorted.
NOTE: I graduated in 1998 and my thoughts and experiences have been considered over the last 8 years that I have been dealing with the student loans company.
Took my loan out only in my final year of study. Was able to manage without it til then as I worked. Had to give up the job to cope with the amount of study I had to do.
I did work for a while after graduating, but was well below the threshold for repayment so was able to defer it.
Apparently they are allowed to change the rules to suit themselves and now I am NOT working, they are demandng I pay.
Would love to know where they think I am going to get that sort of money at this point in time!
So when they tell you that you don't need to pay it back til you are working.....don't believe them!!
In response to a comment left for my review: I know I owe the money, I know I have to pay it back. But when I took out the loan (about 8 years ago) part of the agreement I signed was that it was paid back only when working, and only when earning equal to or above the national average wage. The repayments could be deferred on an annual basis if you did not meet the criteria.
When I was in employment I was able to defer payments as I was being paid below the national aveage. I am currently NOT working, and they now demand I pay it back. It's me that does get THAT! Once I am working again I will have no problem with paying it back.
The mere idea of loaning thousands of pounds to students and getting thousands more back in interest after they graduate is a rubbish idea. But that is the way it is. So here is a company, in all fairness, handing out thousands to people who have to get an education. But in effect, this company is handling your money. So all I suggest is that you phone them about 40 to 50 times to check they have got your details correct. Yes, you did read that right. I don't know if they have bought the equivalent of Aldi Savers computers up at their Glasgow headquarters, or if they have just hired monkies to work on them, but whatever, somebody responsible should be looking after our money. After all, we are paying them for it. Most student accounts in the typical banks, i.e, HSBC, Barclays etc state that students have to wait until their A-level results come through before being entitled to an account. Many students shop around to find the best account to suit them, as I did. I transferred my account from the Abbey National to the HSBC when I got my results, and having done so, I contacted the Student Loans Co. to confirm my new details. I was told that the details were going into their system and that I would get a confirmation letter in a few days. I should have been told, "Ok, I'm just popping your details into the computer... There we go. In January, when your accommodation fees and tuition fees are due, we will put approximately £1500 of your money into somebody elses account, leaving you penniless and over your overdraft limit when your fees are due, ensuring that the HSBC will charge you for their convenience." That's right. Not only had they put my money into the Abbey National, but they had even got my old account number wrong! If they had got my old account number right, the money would have been transferred back immediately. But somebody had 1 and a half grand sitting in their account for no reason! On top of t
hat, I spent a fortune on my mobile ringing them to complain. In the end, I had to do most of the enquiring myself - they told me to go to my local Abbey National and sort it out. The cheek! But on top of that, the privacy of enquiring into other accounts meant that the poor soul who had my money had to change his account number in the process. And that was my first year with the Student Loans Co. I'll let you know how the next one goes. Er, you decide! I've had my rant, but at the end of the day, supposedly this is just something us students have to put up with!
I have a couple of things that have always puzzled me about the Student Loans system. Firstly, if we are going to have to pay back our student loans then why do they force us to live in poverty? I have no worries about having to pay the money back, so why am I not allowed to have an amount that covers me for the bare essentials such as expensive bottled beers, proper cigarettes, numerous foreign holidays, stacks of Dutch porn and a small farm in the South of Wales. Instead, even acording to the Government itself I would be better off on the dole. Wasnt it Blair who said, "Education, education, education"? That'll be twelve grand, please. I have always been of the opinion that the grant system was largely paid for by the higher rates of tax paid by graduates in higher wage jobs. Now it looks like I will have to pay twice for my three years of scrounging and starvation. Secondly, what is it with these people who do not take out their student loans? Fair enough, some people do not need the money but surely if these people put the money into a high interest acount and didnt touch it for three years they would make a nice little packet. It is worrying how many people have not caught on to this idea- especially as they are higher ed students and supposedly the brightest among their generation. Makes me proud to be one.