Many students savour the day their student loan comes in- but what happens if you never receive your money? A number of students are still yet to receive their Student Finance, while many others have experienced difficulties, resulting in late payments. In an Impact survey, 30% said they did not receive their loan on time and 27% said they experienced problems during the application process. Impact reveals the numerous issues with Student Finance that Nottingham students have encountered.
UoN student Peter Jang* tells Impact of the problems that he experiences every year: “I’ve had horrendous experiences with Student Finance every year I have applied.
“In my first year, they failed on multiple occasions to give my parents their requested Customer Reference Numbers (my sister went to university at the start of the period of online administration). My parents were recent immigrants, and they experienced a great deal of difficulty speaking to incompetent staff on the phone.”
“I’ve had horrendous experiences with Student Finance every year I have applied.”
Dealing with Student Finance, however, became even more challenging when he lost his father at the end of last year. Peter relates how he had great difficulty in updating his personal circumstances.
“After informing them of this numerous times throughout the year, they were asking me for his financial information right up until October,” he says. “They repeated the trick this year.”
The main problems that students experienced were lost paperwork and administration errors, including recording students as attending the incorrect university. UoN student Tom Beech* relates that the fact that Student Finance had marked him down as attending the wrong university was the reason why he has only recently received his student loan.
“I was then told that that they would have to ‘arrange alternate finance until the mistake could be rectified’,” he says. “Even though it was a simple administration mistake, I had to live off my own savings and a parental loan for two months.”
“I had to live off my own savings and a parental loan for two months.”
Tom is not the only one who has had to seek alternative financial arrangements. 43% of those who did not receive their student loan on time had to rely on family, and 19% on a part time job.
Alan Kettle*, another UoN student, says that his difficulty in receiving his student loan almost pushed him out of university. “I was told I had completed the wrong forms and given them incorrect details, after I gave them the information again, I would be told I was still in the wrong,” he explains.
“My nightmare got to the point where if it hadn’t been for my parents’ generosity, I would have been turfed out of my house and forced to quit university. Finally, I have got to the final hurdle of signing a declaration form and hope to get my money very soon.”
“My nightmare got to the point where if it hadn’t been for my parents’ generosity, I would have been turfed out of my house and forced to quit university.”
All the students speaking to Impact say that they received no help from the Student Loans Company when they informed them of their problems, and were told to simply ‘keep waiting’. They also commented that the service they received over the phone was often unhelpful.
So what options are available to a student who don’t receive their loan in time and can’t rely on their parents or a job to support them?
UoN’s Student Services Centre has a dedicated Financial Support Team that can help if students are experiencing financial difficulties and can assist them with Student Finance applications. They also have a dedicated Student Crisis Fund that can provide small interest-free loans to those with extenuating circumstances. They advise that students contact them if they are experiencing difficulties. Staff can phone Student Finance on your behalf to try and resolve the situation. They also have a number of self-access telephones where students can call Student Finance free of charge.
The Financial Support Team advises that students contact them if they are experiencing difficulties. Staff can phone Student Finance on your behalf to try and resolve the situation.
Although all of these students finally got the money they needed and were entitled to, evidence shows that there are continuing problems with Student Finance. However, UoN’s Student Advice Centre can help so you do not need to suffer alone.
*All students requested anonymity.
Caroline Chan. Additional reporting by Lauren Elliott