57,000 ex-students are owed more than £15mStudent Loans Company owes ex-borrowers millions

15 December 2010


University can be the most enjoyable three years of your life – but it pays to be prepared

Which? has discovered that the Student Loans Company (SLC) had taken more than £15m in overpayments from ex-students at 31 March 2010, despite the loans having been repaid in full. In total, more than 57,000 borrowers were waiting for a refund at that date.

The £15 million owed by the Student Loans Company (SLC) to ex-Student Loans borrowers represents a rise of £6m on the amount owed to students at the same date in the previous year. The additional amounts taken from ex-students is an accumulation of all money still owed to that date. In some cases, the student could be owed money for overpayments taken from their accounts in previous years that had not been repaid. 

Student loan mistakes 

Which? submitted a Freedom of Information request to the SLC after ex-students told us they had extra money taken from their accounts. These included Tom Arbuthnott, a teacher from Birmingham, who had money he didn’t owe taken from his account for six months. Tom was eventually reimbursed the £1,450 owed for the 2009/10 financial year, but the SLC stills owe him money. 

Tom told us: ‘Irritatingly, the April and May 2010 repayments are still outstanding.’ 

HMRC takes payments from ex-students’ employers and passes them to the SLC. Payments continue until the SLC tells HMRC the debt has been paid in full. The SLC told us: ‘If a borrower has overpaid, the money is paid back when the details come to us. Borrowers suffer no financial disadvantage as a consequence.’ 

Significant hardship

Which? principal advocate Mark McLaren said: ‘We disagree. Unwarranted payments could cause significant short-term hardship, as well as considerable hassle in getting HMRC and the SLC to communicate effectively with each other.’ 

Graduates with less than two years of repayments to make can set up a direct debit to avoid being overcharged. Balances can be seen at Studentloanrepayment.co.uk.

For more information on student finance, see the Which? online student finance guide.

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