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I went to university in 1998. As I had moved many miles from home to go to university, I needed some money to help fund me through my university life. Taking out a student loan was very easy. As I recall, I just had to have a short interview and fill out an application form, and that was it - regular payments were made into my account each term.
The student loan system seems to change quite regularly, but I am part of the scheme where as soon as I earn over £10,000 per annum, student loan repayments are taken out of my wages automatically each month by my employer at the time, and passed onto the Inland Revenue. The Inland Revenue then pass the payments onto the Student Loan Company at the end of the tax year. Quite a straightforward process, you might think...apparently not!
I graduated in 2001, and I never had any need to contact the Student Loan Company until recently. They sent me a statement for the 01/02 tax year ages ago, but I never received a statement for the 02/03 tax year until a month or so ago (a year since the last tax year ended!). I was shocked when it said that I had paid nothing back during that year, when in fact I had been paying money back every month that year!
I decided to call the SLC to see what was going on. They told me they hadn't received anything from me (through the Inland Revenue [IR]) and advised me to send in my P60 for that year as proof of what I had paid and then they would update their records. I was angry that my money had gone missing, but no one was willing to take the blame (my previous company/IR/SLC). I was happy that the SLC were able to provide a solution however, and so I sent a letter to them explaining my situation, enclosed my P60 and also enclosed copies of my payslips as additional proof.
While I was waiting for a reply, I went to see the Inland Revenue (my local tax office) to see if they could offer any advice, and they said that they couldn't help, and that I would have to sort it out with the SLC. The IR hadn't received payments from the company I worked for, so it seems likely that the company I worked for, or the IR mislaid my file showing that I have paid off part of the loan. So it seems that the SLC may not have been to blame for the money going missing, however their service after the initial phone call went downhill...
I received a letter in response to the letter and P60 I sent them. The letter was nonsense. The first sentence wasn't a complete sentence and made no sense at all. The second sentence told me that they had received my P60 but couldn't do anything with it and that I would have to go to the IR to sort it out.
I called the SLC as I was not happy with the letter. The person I spoke to basically said that whatever the letter said was correct. I told them that I had been asked to send in my P60 as proof of payments by one of their colleagues, so that my records could be updated, and they then said that this could be done. I asked for confirmation that my records would be updated. They confirmed this. I then asked if they would send a new statement showing that I had paid off the amount shown on my P60. They then said that I couldn't have one because as far as they were concerned, they hadn't received a penny from myself. Total contradiction! I gave up with this person in the end - after the same thing being said over and over, I'd had enough!
After the above phone call, I was fuming. Relatives advised me to call them again, to see if I could talk to management. I did this, and explained the situation again to the new person on the phone. They said that the letter I had received was incorrect, and the person I spoke to before them was incorrect - they can update records using P60s, as I was informed originally. This person said that they would contact the IR after the weekend, get the system updated and then contact me to let me know that all was well.
I never got a call back from the SLC.
I called them a few days after they were supposed to call me, to see what was going on. It seems that they forgot about me, but they did contact the IR while I waited on the line this time. I thought it would finally be sorted out but I was told that due to system problems/updates, my records would not be updated for at least a few months. I was assured that they will remember to update my records when they can, but quite frankly, I don't believe it. I think that this is going to take me a long time to sort out. I will update this review when I get any more news.
I thought that the Student Loan Company system sounded a great idea. It sounds great in theory...payments come automatically out of your wages if you earn a certain amount each month...get passed onto the Inland Revenue...the Inland Revenue pass them onto the Student Loan Company...SLC send you a statement after the end of each tax year.
However it seems that there are major communication problems between the involved parties. My student loan has caused me nothing but stress for the past month. I have spent a lot of time and money on phonecalls, letters, photocopying, visiting offices etc etc for nothing. I have paid my loan back as agreed each month, and yet I am faced with trying to sort out a mess that has nothing to do with me.
I would advise anyone who has a student loan, and who has been paying it back, to keep a close eye on your statements. If you don't get one one year, ask for one. Keep any documents like P60s and wageslips safe...these are your only proof that you have paid anything off...I am not the only one who has had this problem, it seems that the system has gone wrong for many people.
My nightmare has not been down to the SLC alone, but I would say that the Student Loan system as a whole is very poor. I am very concerned that I might have to go through this every year. I would rather pay a set amount directly to the SLC each year, based on my earnings, rather than have to go through this hassle again.
I doubt they'll recalculate and refund the interest that I have paid this year on the amount that I actually paid off over a year ago. Another thing that'll need chasing up I imagine.
Interest rates on the loan aren't bad, but if you earn little over £10,000, you'll actually owe the SLC much more in interest each year than the repayments you make for the whole year. In other words, if you never get a well paid job, your debt will just get more and more every year, as you'll never pay off more than the interest that accumulates.
Spot on there! Ever since I started uni I have just had grief from these nightmareish organisations. Im on my last year of studies, and every year there has been problems and the people at the other end of the phone are just complete grumpy usless advisors! Sometimes I wish I never applied for uni, especially knowing the grief i was going to get and to think I wont be able to shake them off untill I finish paying it all off, which could be years! Years or hassle and gross incompetence.
JohnGroom 22.09.2005 23:26
I've never had to deal with anything like this but I can still sympathise with your situation. Could the local Citizens' Advice Bureau help or would that end up making it worse? Good luck with the situation I hope you get it sorted out soon.
n13roy 22.09.2005 11:23
In theory, this sounds like a good idea, but after reading this nightmare you are having, I certainly would tell people to be very careful.........Roy