Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Students still await loan money

students
There are still students waiting to receive financial support

Thousands of students in England have still not received their loans and grants weeks after the start of term, according to latest figures.

Statistics from the Student Loans Company (SLC) indicate that as many as 70,000 students could still be waiting for financial support.

The SLC says it has not broken any pledges on the level of payments to be completed by the end of October.

The Conservatives said it was time the government "got a grip".

The updated figures, showing the position up to November 1, reveal that the SLC is still processing 23,000 applications and 13,000 maintenance applicants who have been approved.

A further 34,000 students are being asked to provide further information.

'Stressful'

Facing strong criticism from students, parents and politicians, the Student Loans Company promised greater efforts to tackle the delays and improve their service.

They promised that "anyone who applied and submitted correct evidence in support of their application by mid-August will be processed for payment by the end of October, moving them from interim to fully means tested payment".

Ministers have failed to deliver the improved service they promised
David Willetts, Conservatives

The company maintains it has met its commitment to pay the balance of means tested support to students, who submitted their student finance applications and correct evidence by 31 August, by the end of October.

SLC chief executive Ralph Seymour-Jackson said: "We are continuing to work around the clock to process the applications that we have received in the past two months.

"Even where applications are late, we appreciate that students should not have to wait long to have their forms processed and their money paid."

The continuing problems facing students left without money were linked by student unions to the review of fees announced by the government on Monday.

"The delay of loans to thousands of students this year is inexcusable. This administrative mess highlights why the review of student support and funding should be wide ranging and not just a case of fees; how high," said Michael Payne, chair of Unions 94, a group of student unions in 1994 Group universities.

And e-mails continue to be sent to the BBC News website claiming that students who did submit their applications well before the deadline are still awaiting payment.

Steve Leahy says his daughter Rebecca is still waiting for payment, despite putting in an application in April.

He says he has had to support her since she began her first year on a psychology course at Sheffield Hallam University.

There has been pressure on his daughter to pay her accommodation charges - and he says she has been urged to borrow money to cover the rent.

"It's been stressful for her, marring the beginning of university. We've been trying to allay her fears."

A financial adviser, Mr Leahy says that his experience of dealing with the Student Loans Company has been "absolutely appalling".

He says there has been a series of confusions over the processing the application, with misplaced documents and contradictory information from helplines. And at present he says he still has no idea when the delay will be resolved.

'Stop dithering'

Shadow Universities and Skills Secretary, David Willetts, said: "More than a month into the new university term, thousands of students are experiencing real hardship because of the government's mismanagement.

"Ministers have failed to deliver the improved service they promised, failed to recognise the scale of the problem, and failed to help students struggling to stay afloat.

"It is vital that the government stops dithering and gets a grip on the system before the next group of students start in January."

The National Union of Students has called for resignations over the prolonged delays - and last week, Lord Mandelson added his voice to the complaints.

"The company's service has fallen well short of the expectations of students and their families," he told the House of Lords.

There is to be an inquiry into the loan problems, headed by two external experts - former London South Bank University vice-chancellor Sir Deian Hopkin and Bernadette Kenny of HM Revenue and Customs.


To send comments please use the form below.

My son, who applied for his loan in the summer, has yet to receive any money. As a consequence, he is now overdrawn and being charged for this by his bank. Will the SLC offer any compensation for the financial problems he is now having? I think not.
Rosemary Hughes, Lewes

I applied for my loan and grant in April and only received the first instalment last Thursday. It's a joke, frankly. It was impossible to work with my landlord pressurising me for rent and sending letters and promising charges for the late rent. I had to borrow money off some of my friends to cover my base living costs. I still know too many people who haven't been paid and one person evicted from their flat.
David, London

My daughter started her university course on 1st September having applied for her loan in June. She has not yet received any money. We have had to find 3 months private rent, money for books and food in addition to paying the tuition fees. She made an official complaint to the SLC, was "reassured" her situation would be reviewed.... The bottom line is she still has not had any of the loan but has had to pay out in excess of £1000. At the current moment she cannot afford to turn the heating on because she cannot pay the utilities bill. This is scandalous.
Dr K Law, Farnham UK

I graduated this year and have started on a postgraduate teacher programme, despite having 3 years worth of evidence of my existence and marriage, I was held up by my marriage and birth certificate documentation getting processed. I sent the documents by recorded delivery and it took student finance 7 weeks to acknowledge receiving them and returning them to me in the post, however there is still no acknowledgement of the marriage certificate being received, despite being posted back to me in the same envelope as the birth certificate that is showing 'on file'. With a husband who works and 6 year old son it is very stressful and there are weeks when I cannot afford petrol to travel in to uni or parking fees when I am there. despite 3 phone calls in the past week I have got to 'wait 2 weeks to see if it comes onto the system' - and if it doesn't, then what!?
Dianne, teesside

My daughter is still waiting for her money. she started a PGCE course at the beginning of sept. She was not allowed to apply to SLC (by the SLC) until she had actually graduated at end of July. She has now received a letter telling her how much she will get but has to send something back to them first. Absolutely scandalous. SLC chief comes across as complacent nad well into spin. He has not met his pledge with respect to my daughter's application.
Richard Bolam, Daventry

I have two sons, both in their second University year. Both have student loans. One received his loan two weeks ago having had to sign further declarations, the second, still has no loan. Both boys had their loans approved last year and there has been no change to their status. Due to the second son's restricted access to funds he cannot spend hours on the phone to the help line - it is an 0845 number which costs mobile phone users an extraordinary sum - and they will not allow us to speak to them on his behalf from our home telephone line. The do not answer emails so he has no knowledge of the status of his loan apart from the word approved on the web page assigned to him. He is in limbo, unable to get support from the loan company and rapidly running out the money he earned over the summer and funds remaining from his scholarship bursary last year.
Nicola Carter, Liphook

Applied in April, still waiting.
Teresa Davies, new milton, hampshire

Although I did receive my loan when expected, my boyfriend who I live hasn't. He sent his application in early May as he was changing courses and Student Loans Company deleted his application without any warning or any notification of having done so. After finding this out he then submitted a second application form to them which was also deleted from their systems without any form of warning. So, again he filled one out under the advisement of the call centre staff and this was also deleted. His fourth one has now been put through the fast track system, but only because a manager was involved at his parents request, but this doesn't guarantee payment before December because they needed some more information from him regarding why he swapped universities. As I said although I have received mine, its not enough to support two people and buy course materials and pay rent and bills. It's a flawed system.
Lisa Hughes, Manchester, UK

I've finally had half of mine though its only the loan not the grant but it went in ok today what a relief
katie, wolverhampton

What I find staggering is the downright lies you are told when you tru to find out what is happening to your application. My daughter put her application in online in July along with her passport and other ID details. She has still to receive any money - so much for the promise to get some form of payment to all students who applied before the deadline. When we called to find out where the loan was we were told that she had not supplied her passport details. Then she had to print out a form and submit the details by mail!!! Luckily she did so by recorded delivery because she was told on 2 other occasions that they still had not had her passport details. The last time they admitted that they HAD received the passport details in July! All lies and time-wasting because they are incompetent and inefficient.
David, Bognor Regis

I applied at the earliest possible stage, early April I think. I then heard nothing until mid august where i was only allocated the basic loan, however the assessment turned out to be wrong. So my mum rang and when she got through (3hours later) she was told that the information for my dad was lost even though it went into the same envelope as my mums which we recorded, we even know the exact date and time of arrival and the person that signed for it. However it was still lost, so we had to send it again and spend another £5 to record it. I then received my loan last Thursday. Also the number given by student finance cost us a total of £26.50 in one month alone, maybe students like me should start applying now for next years money!
Ryan Hilton, Manchester

I have just emailed my local MP David Cameron in a final attempt to get some answers as to why my son has not received his student loan even though he applied in May.

When I spoke to SLC last week they stated that they were processing applications made by August 15 - so I do not understand why my son's application has not been dealt with. My son has had to supply the full list of supportive evidence including birth certificate and passport. The performance of the SLC is a total disgrace and there is still no sign of any money for him. Luckily he is living at home but he is not able to participate fully in university life and things are very stressful for him. I hope that those in charge are sacked or resign as a result of this shambles.
paul hardy, witney

I applied for loan in March and having sent my passport twice, birth certificate three times and completing everything i've been asked to complete i still have absolutely nothing. The university is beginning to pressure me in to sort it out but everytime i phone up SLC i'm told it's currently being processed and should be sorted in the near future. It's without any doubt dampening my university experience.
Chaplin, Canterbury

My son is at his wits end as any money he has been provided with from the family as a short-term help is just about to run out. Still no sign of his student loans and an ever-changing story every time he contacts student finance England. Nobody there has the correct information and he has been left trying to prove his identity for the 3rd time! while at risk of being evicted from his accommodation and from his course. Its a complete disgrace !
Andrew Heathman, Wigan, UK

The helpline staff are appalling. Making things up as they go along. They ask you to send in information they don't need or ask you to fill out the wrong additional form, to get you off the phones and by doing this are in effect, putting you to the back of the assessment queue again.
kitty, bradford

Use this number to save you money - 0141 3062000. It's for the SLC and can be used instead of the 0845 number.
Anon, Birmingham

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