Student Finance England

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Student Finance England

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40% positive

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Review of "Student Finance England"

published 25/05/2010 | DixieChick10
Member since : 14/08/2007
Reviews : 300
Members who trust : 161
About me :
Site seems to be as crap as always. Looks like I won't be back this summer or ever. After a year away, I can truly say, I really don't care now. :P
Satisfactory
Pro Without it, most people would not be able to go to Uni.
Cons Hard to contact them, they seem to lose everyone's documents, payments not made on time
very helpful
Service
Application Process

"A Students Nightmare"

I have said this to many people that I would not post this review, until the four weeks after I sent in my evidence to Student Finance. I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, and see if they have buckled up their ideas this year, and hopefully changed. It has now been four weeks, and I have just received an email to tell me that they are still yet to receive my evidence, so the benefit of the doubt has been given, and now I’m probably even more annoyed than I was before.

Back in 2009, it was pretty much a given I was going to University, the points I needed to get onto the course I had already got half way throughout the second year, and I just needed to top them up to get the best grades I could get. Everyone I knew had applied to go to University, so I applied as well. I chose Derby University, it was not the best University for the course I was doing, but it had the best campus, and it was far enough from home that I wouldn’t be living in my mom’s pocket, but it was also close enough that I could travel down if I was struggling. After choosing Student Finance as my firm choice I had to do something that most of us prospective students were dreading, apply for help, apply for Student Finance.

Purpose of This Review

This review could very likely turn out controversial, I understand what Student Finance do is amazing, but the way they do it seems to be the problem. With this review I want to show people what Student Finance are meant to do, and why they are pretty much needed by nearly every Student in the UK. I also want to tell people about my experience with this company, and the experience I know other people have had and finally I want to hopefully help people who may use Student Finance in the future, get around the system and hopefully find the loopholes and hopefully get the money they’ve asked for on the date they need it for.

I am not going to pad the review out with too much information on Student Finance; just what I believe is the important information. Finally, and most importantly, this is all my own opinion.

What is Student Finance?

You can find most information out about this on the net, so it’s not going to be too long. Student Finance is there, to help prospective students pay for University. The help they give is the following:

Tuition Fee Loan- To cover your tuition fees, Student Finance give you up to £3,290 per year.
Maintenance Loan- This is a bit harder to give a figure, but I myself would get around £3,564 if I was to live on campus.
Maintenance Grant- This un-repayable grant is given to students from low income families. It’s around £2,906 for most very low income families.

When you are ‘released’ from your University in 3 or so years, you will of course have to pay back the loans. However, as it’s not always likely everyone will get a high paid job, you do not have to pay back your loan until you earn over £15,000.

My Experience- 2009

In 2009 I decided I wanted to go to University, in hindsight, I’m afraid I’m going to have to admit that I do believe I was not ready for University at that time. I do believe I went with peer pressure, and because everyone else was going to University and in hindsight I should have known that it wasn’t for me that particular year. However I didn’t go with my gut and ended up going.

To apply to Student Finance, you have two choices, you can either use the internet application form which is a lot simpler, or you can order a paper based application form. If you are at college or sixth form at the time, you will very likely get help from your tutors. To apply you have to fill out a form, which will include a lot of information about your life and if you are under 19 and still living at home I believe, you will have to provide a lot of your parents details, these details are mainly to do with what they earnt in the previous tax year, and this is what they will base means tested loans on. Once you have entered in all of your details and all of you parents details, you will have to provide a lot of evidence. This includes things like your passport details if you have one, or you will have to send in your birth certificate, and most importantly your parents P60’s from the previous tax year, and then you sit and pray that you get this information back.

Student Finance did not help in the slightest when it came to calming me during this stressful time. The amount of problems I had to begin with when it came to logging onto the site to begin with was significant, they didn’t recognise my Customer Reference number, they didn’t recognise my password even though I keep a word document with all of the relevant information in, so I can copy and paste it over. The worst problem was the fact that every time I rang up Student Finance, they told me my date of birth was wrong, I had to get around it a different way, and when talking to an advisor, was told no, my date of birth was right in their system. It was ridiculous.

They lost so many of my documents, and told me it was my fault as I had not sent them, it was only after I told them that I had sent everything recorded delivery, and provided them with the relevant information that they found my documents.

I was one of the lucky ones however, I got my payment on time, and if I had gone, I could see that it would have gone smoothly and despite all of the problems originally they would have been fine. Despite this, when it came to other people, up until the middle of November I was talking to people who still hadn’t received help from Student Finance and apparently at this time, there were still 70,000 students waiting to be processed. Yes they might have applied later, but they really did not deserve all of the problems they had during a tough time.

If you go to University and have successfully applied for Student Finance, you should start to get your money as soon as you start your course. You will never see your Tuition Loan, which goes straight to the University, so no one can spend that.

It is understandable that they struggled during 2009; they did not see that they would have so many new prospective students, so they did not prepare for it. It was understandable, however throughout April-November when they must have known they had X amount of students applying, you would have thought they would have created a way of solving this problem.

My Experience- 2010

This bit will be a lot more detailed as I am updating it as it actually is happening to me.

When I got my Unconditional offer from the Uni I applied to, I went straight onto Student Finance to apply. Straight away I found myself stuck, as I did not end up actually enrolling last year, I assumed I was applying as a first time student, apparently this was wrong. Then not only was I applying like a second year student would but the passwords and secret answers I was using at the time, were not working. After a lot of hours trying to get the passwords etc to what I wanted them to be, I finally got the chance to get onto my application and noticed something which could ruin my application for next year completely.

In January 2010 Student Finance had paid into my Student Bank Account, over £400. I no longer use my Natwest bank account, there just didn’t seem a point, and I get all of my statements sent through to me online and I never really saw the point to look at them. When I saw that Student Finance had put this money in, I was immediately on the phone, and 52 minutes later, someone answered. I was told that the Uni sent them a letter at the end of last year stating that I had just withdrawn and I should be blaming them. I contacted the Uni to get the actual letter they sent to Student Finance sent to me, which stated clearly I was never in attendance of that particular University, so never enrolled. I sent all of this information to Student Finance and have not heard back from them a month later.

Methods of Contact

The most important thing when it comes to Student Finance, and the biggest problem with Student Finance, is contacting them. These are the methods of contact they allow and the problems with these methods.
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The Phone Calls
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Everyone who has dealt with Student Finance will likely complain about one thing, it is quite necessary when applying to sometimes ring them up, especially when they have made mistakes after mistakes, which can only be rectified by ringing them up because there is no email, and you never, ever get a response by letter. The phoning system at Student Finance is ridiculous, and in 2010, I can easily say it is the same, if not worse than it was in 2009. The record I was on hold for was 1 hour and 25 minutes, and it was probably the most important conversation I needed to have with them, as they had sent me a letter saying I had not sent in my birth certificate, even though I had sent it in recorded post, 2 months before.

Despite all this, when you finally do get onto the person at the other end, they are generally really nice people. Most of the time they solve the problem for you, and they do appreciate that they’re system is flawed and that it is a stressful time for the prospective students. I’m afraid none of us have found a way of getting around the Phone System at Student Finance; it really is a case of getting up early and ringing as soon as they open, or ringing 10 minutes before they close I assume. Either or it’s not good that it takes you up to an hour to talk to someone about a mistake they’ve made, yet again. I once read somewhere, that only 5% of phone calls are answered during the peak times at their end.
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Letters
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Throughout the whole process of applying to Student Finance, you will get thousands of letters from them. One week it will say that they have received the important document and have sent it back to you, only for a few days later to get another letter saying, you must send this document soon or you will not get any money from student finance.

You will also find yourself sending things from all your passport details, to your actual birth certificate to many other documents, and you will likely find, unless you are very, very lucky, that they will lose one of these documents, or say you have not sent in the document via a letter, only for you to ring up and them go, Oh yes, we have it here in front of us.

Note to people applying this year or even the next year, always, always send anything you send to Student Finance recorded delivery. It’s more money, but in the grand scheme of things, it could save you a lot of things going wrong.


Email
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Why Student Finance don’t allow people to send things by email I don’t know. There has been a number of people whom I’ve talked to, who have told me that they were on hold for over an hour, just to ask if their evidence was there and being processed, questions like these could be easily answered by email. They could hire a small team, who could answer these emails and hopefully stop the rest of us, who have very important questions to be asked, being on hold for a stupid amount of time. Lets hope by the time I apply next year that they have sorted themselves out and have given people the opportunity to ask small questions via email.

Final Opinion

I know some people are going to be reading this, thinking, what an ungrateful cow, she’s getting ‘free’ money to go to University and she’s moaning about the system. If you type in Student Finance into Google, I am pretty sure you will get thousands of people complaining about the system, including quite a few Facebook pages which are dedicated to the problems Student Finance gave us last year.

In a nice ole world, we would all love to be able to go to University for free; it’s never going to happen. At the moment my University tuition fees per year will be £3290 and if I decided to stay on campus, the halls prices per week would be £110 per week, which roughly comes to about £5,000 for the first year at University, even though I would only get £3,564 to cover my living fees. I would be out of pocket straight away and it is a lot of money, for something that doesn’t guarantee a job at the end of it. It is a risk most of us are willing to take, but now-a-days in this climate, it really helps if there is a degree on your CV especially within the industry I have chosen.

Student Finance is an amazing company on paper, it provides loans to pretty much everyone that attends University, I can only imagine how much that turns out to be, however like most services of the Government, it just runs OK, the idea is nice, and it does work in some cases, but for most, it takes a lot of arguing, a lot of money spent on phone calls and a lot of stress spent on something that should be relatively easy. At the moment I am only half way through the application process, I filled in everything I needed to do by the end of April and sent off all of my evidence, which includes some very important details. This past week, 4 weeks after sending the evidence, I received an email saying that I had yet to receive my evidence. I’m going to leave it until the beginning of June, if my Student Finance account doesn’t say complete by then, I’m going to have to find some time to ring them up and ask what is going on, again.

Final Note

All in all, this Company should be brilliant and what they allow us students, or prospective students to do is amazing, however there are way too many problems, and they do cause students so much stress it really is ridiculous. I think if they added an email address, where simple enquires could be answered it would save a lot of time and money for everyone.

Just to clarify, there was no reason for me to check my Natwest bank account. I was told by Student Finance and Derby that every think was sorted and that I would not get any payments. It was left there with £5 in it, until I reapplied this year. I did not get a letter from Student Finance telling me they were going to pay me any money, and neither did Natwest send me anything. To me that account was forgotten about until this year.

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More Information
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If you want more information on Student Finance and the Student Loans Company then please take a look at the following website:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/UniversityAndHigherEducation/StudentFinance/index.htm


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Comments on this review

  • marymoose99 published 01/06/2010
    I hope things start to look up for you!
  • rojm published 31/05/2010
    I am very impatient when the phone isn't answered or am kept on hold
  • MizzMolko published 31/05/2010
    A really good write up. 52 minutes waiting on the phone is ridiculous - when I thought I was going to drop out last year at some point, I sat on the phone for half an hour waiting until someone finally answered. I agree: there definitely should be some form of emailing system because whoever is answering would have all of the details in front of them. Eleanor x
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Product Information : Student Finance England

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Listed on Ciao since: 30/04/2010