Q&A about Student Loans with Student Loans Company's Nichola Malton - Answers back

(59 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 09-Mar-11 13:13:34

Financial expert Jasmine Birtles has teamed up with the Student Loans Company (SLC) to talk about student finance. Covering what funding you are entitled to for tuition fees and living costs, how to apply for this money and when to make sure your finances are in place - either to start university or continue on to another academic year.

This is an opportunity for you to ask questions about the application process, benefit from her financial wisdom on how to manage your finances - or help your child budget - at university.

Send in your questions to Jasmine Birtles and Nichola Malton from the SLC before Monday 14th March at 5pm and we'll link to the answers from this thread later that week.

Jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Mar-11 15:30:38

Send in your questions? So do you want me to email it in to you or just post it here?

saggarmakersbottomknocker Wed 09-Mar-11 15:33:21

I don't have a question as such but I would like to know why Student Finance is so inefficient and also to point out that that inefficiency can mean that students have a pretty difficult start to life at university.

My son applied for his finance for his first year well in advance (february) yet still did not get his first payment until the first week in November. We had to bank roll him for the whole of that time and some, indeed many families are not in a position to do that. Whilst many universities are sympathtic the last thing you need when trying to settle in is to be worrying whether you can afford to eat.

This year it has taken from August until January to finalise a simple Travel Grant. It took 3 attempts to even get the correct form and I only got that because someone from my LA e-mailed SF and finally got hold of someone who was willing to follow it through. (thank you Kirsty). Also this year despite me sending evidence of our income as declared my son's original award has been adjusted and he will receive no grant payment for April. As he is currently studying abroad and needing every penny he can get this has again put our family finances under further pressure.

I have done all I can to make sure his finances are in place but Student Finance seem incapable of making that happen.

<rant over>

Dropdeadfred Wed 09-Mar-11 15:46:53

If one person is supporting two full time university students, one their wife and one their daughter, is that taken into consideration when their one same salary is used to calculate both students' loan entitlements?

slug Wed 09-Mar-11 16:19:01

Hi Jasmine and Nicola. I work in a university. Despite applying well before the deadline and constantly harassing keeping in touch with the Student Loan Company, a large percentage of our students routinely have to wait weeks after the start of the academic year before their loan comes through. This has a huge impact on both our administration and on the students.

If students don't have their finances in place by enrolment week, the knock on in time and money (for extra staff) to the University is quite significant. It also doesn't help to have already financially stressed students further stressed by what should be a fairly simple process. My job is busy enough at the beginning of the year without having to spend hours explaining to students that, until their finances are in place they won't complete enrolment and won't have access to some vital resources, especially when they have done everything correctly in the first place.

Given the fiascos of the last few years are fairly common knowledge, what processes have you put in place to ensure it runs smoother this year? How are you proposing to cope with the increase in fees?

<<whew, that felt good to get that off my chest>>

Indith Wed 09-Mar-11 17:35:57

Why is it impossible to get a straight answer about being eligable for childcare help?

I want to return to university but I cannot do so if I don't get childcare funding. I do not expect to waltz in and have my childcare funded just because I fancy another degree but I do expect to be able to get a straight answer from someone. All I keep being told is that I would have to apply to find out hmm so in order to find out if I can actually afford to do a course I have to apply for the course, go through interviews etc and then apply for my funding and have to turn the place down if the answer is no?

treedelivery Wed 09-Mar-11 18:05:09

A repeat of Indith's question! I will be funding my dh through uni, I am dying to know if we will get childcare help. I'm assuming not...but any knowledge on how this system works would be warmly appreciated.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 09-Mar-11 18:26:19

Sorry Jacquelinehyde - post your questions on this thread and we'll send them over at the end of day next Monday.

Indith Wed 09-Mar-11 18:33:54

Glad it isn't just me Tree I sometimes think I am just being very thick about it as it just seems obvious that it needs to be something you know before you apply.

EduStudent Wed 09-Mar-11 19:26:31

Why why why was it necessary, after having approved my 2nd year finance without asking to see proof of my parents income was I then asked to send it in in November after being chosen as part of a random sample?

The letter we received had been sent on 1st Nov. We received it on the 15th. The evidence had to be sent in by the 25th. I was told I would lose my finance if it wasn't. In the end, I lost £20 through reassessment hmm Was it really worth it?

I suppose my question, then, is why would my finance be approved for you then to turn round and demand a reassessment? The hassle and stress it caused could easily have been avoided if we had been asked to send the evidence in when I applied as we had anticipated.

JackiePaper Wed 09-Mar-11 19:31:02

I already have a student loan from a degree I did several years ago. I am starting my midwifery degree in September this year. Am I definitely entitled to the non means tested part of the student loan? I have been told by some people that I am not entitled as I already have one loan, but other people have told me that midwifery and nursing are exempt from this ruling. Will I be entitled to the basic loan or not?

saggarmakersbottomknocker Wed 09-Mar-11 19:37:16

That's what happened to dS2 Edustudent. I too am confused as why why there was a reassessment when our financial evidence confirmed the amount in the original application. Personally I'm unconvinced that it was a 'random sample' as everyone I know had to send evidence in November. It rather defeats the object of a student planning to manage their finances when they are cut off at the knees with a semester to go. Perhaps Jasmine should incorporate the possibility of an 'allowance for SLC cock-up' in her advice. hmm

Ponders Wed 09-Mar-11 20:22:05

I have a DS in second year at uni, & another who will be starting in the autumn.

I have just done the online application for next year for DS1, & when it asked "do you have any other children in Further or Higher Ed?" I said no, because I don't - DS2 is at 6th form college, that's not FE, is it??? - so presumably DS1's finance will have been calculated on the basis that he's the only one we're supporting next year. (Also, the total amount is less than for this year by about £400, although income pretty much the same, how come?)

When I come to do DS2's application, after 16th March, I will clearly answer yes to the same question - will DS1's finance then be recalculated?

Also, when & how do we get a SLC finance ID no. for DS2? (I can't remember confused) (If anyone posting here knows do tell me! Does it get sent automatically once DS2 has firmed his choices?)

Have to say it was much more user-friendly when this was all dealt with at County Hall hmm

pgpg Wed 09-Mar-11 20:50:12

Shockingly bad system. I too would like to know what has been put in place to improve things. I had letters contradicting what previous letters had said, letters asking for information that had already been sent, letters asking me for to send information again because there was "no record" of having received information and letters advising me to ignore previous letters. It was impossible to do anything on-line, despite a number of attempts and I lost count of the number of hours I spent trying to speak to someone who could answer questions.

What a shambles!

fitflopqueen Wed 09-Mar-11 21:16:59

Hopefully my DD will be going to university this Autumn, we would like to know how to start the ball rolling with regard to tuition fees and student loan.
If the fees are not payable til end of degree is interest applied from the beginning ie from 2011 or when the student starts earning?

Jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Mar-11 21:47:16

Ponders anything beyond compulsory education is FE so college and sixth form etc and Uni onwards is HE. I'm sure this is right but I'm happy to be corrected.

So I'm in my final year at uni and have had full student loans, bursaries and childcare etc for each year with little problem. However, I am considering deferring my final year until next year as life is falling apart at the moment. How will this effect my finance? Will I get any help next year as I would have had everything I was owed for this this year already?

Although, having said all that I may finish this year and the begin a postgrad course next year, which raises two further questions. If I chose to complete a 2 year masters degree in social work what would I be entitled to. Or what if I chose to complete a 1 year PGCE course in secondary english. What would I be entitled to then.

I have tried to research all of these options myself but the funding is so disjointed that it is almost impossible to work out. I thought undergraduate funding was confusing, but post grad is a bloody nightmare!

Ponders Wed 09-Mar-11 21:51:14

When you contact Glasgow with a problem you get nowhere IME; they seem to go out of their way to be unhelpful.

Darlington were better for us, but not until I'd written a very snotty (justified!) email, following which I received a communication from a helpful human who subsequently saw us through a very convoluted process (but even then documents were lost hmm)

waffleanddaub Wed 09-Mar-11 22:54:41

Is this just about England? If not, could you please advise me how my daughter can get a loan to cover her living expenses if she goes to a university away from home, in Scotland?

As far as I can tell from the website, she is only entitled to the minimum loan of around £900 due to our income. We do not have savings and have two younger children and can't afford the £400 a month for accommodation. It looks like in England she could get a maintenance loan, not dependent on parental income.?

Does this rule out attending the university of her choice? I am quite suprised by this, after all you pay back a loan, why can't she get one?

Thanks.

mercibucket Wed 09-Mar-11 23:01:37

If there was any alternative to your company it would have been driven out of business by its inefficiencies. Why is your company so utterly hopeless and inefficient and how do you plan on improving it to reach standards all other companies manage? why can't your company cope with changes of direct debit instruction? why does it take at least four months for new direct debit instructions to take effect? why is it the only company I have encountered that seems to have this problem?

onadietcokebreak Thu 10-Mar-11 10:20:28

I started Uni Sept 2010. 3 year course. I am deferring 2nd year as Im pregnant. Resuming Sept 2012.

Will I be hit by the new rules surrounding tuition loans?

onadietcokebreak Thu 10-Mar-11 10:24:20

Indith and Tree raise very valid points.

I fully appreciate that Childcare grant is subject to so many variables such as income and essential pre exisiting commintments such as mortgage,maintenance commitments, etc but I still feel there should be more info online.

At the very least the manual for how you make your calculations should be available so students could try and do there own calulations.

Actually Indith and Tree under FOI act I wonder if we could request that.......

saggarmakersbottomknocker Thu 10-Mar-11 10:32:22

Yes - it would be useful to know how you come to your 'residual income' figure, a term bandied about but which seems to have no published calculation.

loveyourspace Thu 10-Mar-11 12:14:47

Hello

I am thinking of starting a postgrad course - MA in a relevant area of study for my current career. Albeit that I am just looking for work at the moment after maternity leave.

It is a one year full time or two part time course. I have two children, one of which will be school age when I propose to start uni. Are you aware of any possible help with funding my course fees or maybe childcare costs whilst I study? (My partner works full time)Do you have any info relating to maximum earnings before funding is unavailable?

Thank you

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-Mar-11 15:34:35

Nichola Malton from the Student Loans Company has asked us to pass on this message to you.

'Thank you for taking the time to pose your questions to us. We value this feedback so we can address any issues you have and thereby continue to improve our service. We will be answering your questions on Tuesday and are committed to making the student finance process as easy as possible. You will be able to view our answers to your questions next week'.

TheMonster Thu 10-Mar-11 16:46:36

The bloody Student Loans Company! What a disorganised company they are.
I graduated from university in 1999, and qualified as a teacher of a shortage subject in 2003, and was accepted (after having to get my union involved in talks with the SLC) onto the RTL scheme. For years I received letters from the SLC saying I owed them money, and and when I phoned them, no-one knew anything about anything at all! It's a disrace and a shambles.

COCKadoodledooo Thu 10-Mar-11 16:49:18

My question is very simple. After having shedloads of information from us before loans/grants were eventually issued, why do we have to provide more of the same?!

I thought once the course was finished all we'd get was a repayment schedule but no - rather threatening letters demanding immediate repayment of the adult dependent's grant for not having provided, err, information we had already given before the course started and proof of no income (which is a ludicrously difficult thing to prove)!

MABS Thu 10-Mar-11 17:28:50

my daughter will have to be overseas for her A levels, just 2 years. Not her choice, her father's job. After uni she will stay in England to work. We own a house here. why won't she be entitled to a student loan?

My son has not yet received his student loan. He is half way through his first year of a Business Management BA, but is thinking of giving up. Is it possible to cancel the loan application? What should he do if the money arrives after he's given up the course?

mum2supercharlie Thu 10-Mar-11 21:55:13

Hi, excuse my ignorance and lack of knowledge on this topic. My husband is paying a student loan back through his monthly salary. It shows on his payslip and he has no idea how much there is left to pay back, how much he has paid back already, how long we will have deductions from his salary etc. We get a yearly statement but he didn't understand as the amount showing as still outstanding is what he thought the original borrowing equals. Please can you tell us where we can find this information out? I don't have experience of a student loan but have heard you can do all this online. He graduated in 2004. He doesn't know if he has an account online.

chicaguapa Fri 11-Mar-11 10:20:43

Cock I'm with you on that. We have also had threatening letters to pay back our ADG, and have had to jump through many many hoops to provide all sorts of information, which is still ongoing. As it's just for £4k I am strongly considering getting a separate loan from a bank to pay back the ADP and put an end to it all! I just don't have the time to photocopy reams and reams of bank statements, policy documents, payslips etc., just to get another letter back saying 'and now we need this...'

pinkbraces Fri 11-Mar-11 12:29:48

My daughter will hopefully be going to Uni, autumn 2012, in order to miss out on all the confusion and general lateness of receiving finances when is the earliest we can apply for the relevant monies? I would really like to avoid some of the horror stories I have heard.

many thanks

Another frustrated childcare allowance googler (and parental allowance) here! Surely it can't be that hard to give at least an indication, a few case studies?

onadietcokebreak Fri 11-Mar-11 20:44:31

I would also like advise on what to do about my student finance. I am planning on deferring next academic year as pregnant.

However it is still early days and of course miscarriage is a risk.Is it advisable to apply online like the rest of my class?

Also what happens about my childcare grant? at the moment it is paid through the summer. However would this be repayable if I dnt return in Sept.

WhiteRose26 Sat 12-Mar-11 09:47:54

My daughter took a gap year immediately after school and worked in order to put some money away for Uni. She had several part-time jobs over the year, but did not earn enough to pay tax, which gives an idea of the fairly low amount she had.

She is currently in her first year and received the full loan for this year, plus a relatively small means-tested grant based on our household income.

She is currently applying for SF for next year and has been told via the SF website that the amount she will get next year is less than the amount she got this year. Is this because she worked?

She is quite upset about this because the student loan will not even cover her portion of the rent on the house she and a group of friends are now committed to for the next academic year.

She will earn even less this year and we cannot make up the shortfall.

tyler80 Sat 12-Mar-11 17:34:38

When new fees are introduced and the repayment terms are altered so that loans are only paid back on income earned above 21k will this only be for students paying the increased fees?

Should I resign myself to paying a percentage of everything I earn over 15k until I'm 65/die?

mercibucket Sat 12-Mar-11 23:34:25

sigh, just checked bank account and payment still not taken - it's supposed to be the last payment as well. why oh why oh why can't your company function properly

Xenia Sun 13-Mar-11 19:37:46

Gosh, this thread is making me rather glad I was lucky enough to earn enough to ensure my 3 older children have graduated without having anything to do with the student loans company.

Ponders Wed 16-Mar-11 13:57:54

I have a supplementary question now related to mine on Wed 9th - "When I come to do DS2's application, after 16th March" - how come the website let me do his application on Friday 11th??? confused

Anyway DS2's loan figure has come out £300+ higher than DS1's - will DS1's loan amount automatically change to match, or does he have to ask for it, or does he just get less???

Ponders Wed 16-Mar-11 14:11:13

and one more, completely different, question - why are the termly payment amounts so arbitrary?

Easter is so late this year that there is 4 months between the Spring term payment (10/01/2011) & the Summer term payment (03/05/2011). This means that students renting accommodation privately & paying rent monthly will have to find the rent for April before they get the loan in May.

And the amount paid in January, to cover 4 months, is the same as the amount paid in September (27/09/2010), which only had to cover 3½ months.

And the loan in May, which actually only covers about a 6-week term, is more than the one in January!!! (Is this intended to help with summer expenses? As the difference is only about £45, it won't go very far hmm)

It would be much more helpful for student budget purposes if the annual loan/grant amounts were divided by the number of weeks in the academic year, & paid out according to the number of weeks in each term.

saggarmakersbottomknocker Wed 16-Mar-11 14:39:56

Ponders, absolutely agree with you re payment dates. My ds2 gets his last payment on 16/4 or thereabouts - he's abroad and his academic year finishes on 23/4 confused It would be much better if it was more flexible with maybe some choice about when we receive the maintenance grant/loan payments. Most students have their biggest outlay in their first term - travelcards, books, accommodation; much more sensible to receive maybe half then and the other half spread over the rest of the year.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 17-Mar-11 13:12:04

The answers are now back from the Student Loans Company and you can see the full Q&A here:

Student Loans Q&A

mum2supercharlie Thu 17-Mar-11 20:55:13

Thank you Nichola and thank you for covering this MN. Great idea.

Jamesnov Mon 30-Jan-12 23:41:01

Hi i have a child and my wife she is not Woking.can i get dependent grant. i am studying full time and work part-time i get £5000 and getting tax credits and working tax credits i get £7200

can you please tell me if i am eligible for dependent grant

thank you

Jamesnov Tue 31-Jan-12 00:00:13

Hi i have a child and my wife she is not Woking.can i get dependent grant. i am studying full time and work part-time i get £5000 and getting tax credits and working tax credits i get £7200.can you please tell me if i am eligible for dependent grant.

thank you

eatyourveg Tue 31-Jan-12 15:32:48

Is household income gross or net?

Jamesnov Tue 31-Jan-12 17:46:23

my household income gross 12200 total i get Student Loans £6000+2900 student grant total is £21,100

chappell1285 Fri 20-Apr-12 13:10:21

Hi

i am currently studying nursing and i am in reciept of an nhs bursary. for the past 9 months i have been on maternity leave and still in reciept of my funding. i am now due to return to my course in september but i have today been told that there are no places are available and that i will have to join the march 2013 intake. aswel as this i have been informed that my bursary will stop until i return. i have looked on the nhs bursaries website and they mention that if uni cannot allow me to go back then i can extend my mat leave. nhs bursaries say its down to the uni to organise but when i have spoken to my university they seem very unwilling to help me stating that i could go on benefits or get a job. benefits is not really an option due to my partner working and as for a job in this economic climate its very unlikely especially for just 6 months and one that will pay for my rent which is what my bursary covers and also the added cost of childcare.

i am really stuck and unsure of who to turn to. does anyone know the details around this situation and what i can do to resolve it????

chappell1285 Fri 20-Apr-12 13:10:42

Hi

i am currently studying nursing and i am in reciept of an nhs bursary. for the past 9 months i have been on maternity leave and still in reciept of my funding. i am now due to return to my course in september but i have today been told that there are no places are available and that i will have to join the march 2013 intake. aswel as this i have been informed that my bursary will stop until i return. i have looked on the nhs bursaries website and they mention that if uni cannot allow me to go back then i can extend my mat leave. nhs bursaries say its down to the uni to organise but when i have spoken to my university they seem very unwilling to help me stating that i could go on benefits or get a job. benefits is not really an option due to my partner working and as for a job in this economic climate its very unlikely especially one that will pay for my rent which is what my bursary covers and also the added cost of childcare.

i am really stuck and unsure of who to turn to. does anyone know the details around this situation and what i can do to resolve it????

chappell1285 Fri 20-Apr-12 13:12:24

Hi

i am currently studying nursing and i am in reciept of an nhs bursary. for the past 9 months i have been on maternity leave and still in reciept of my funding. i am now due to return to my course in september but i have today been told that there are no places are available and that i will have to join the march 2013 intake. aswel as this i have been informed that my bursary will stop until i return. i have looked on the nhs bursaries website and they mention that if uni cannot allow me to go back then i can extend my mat leave. nhs bursaries say its down to the uni to organise but when i have spoken to my university they seem very unwilling to help me stating that i could go on benefits or get a job. benefits is not really an option due to my partner working and as for a job in this economic climate its very unlikely especially one that will be for 6 months that will pay for my rent which is what my bursary covers and also the added cost of childcare.

i am really stuck and unsure of who to turn to. does anyone know the details around this situation and what i can do to resolve it????

chappell1285 Fri 20-Apr-12 13:15:37

Hi

i am currently studying nursing and i am in reciept of an nhs bursary. for the past 9 months i have been on maternity leave and still in reciept of my funding. i am now due to return to my course in september but i have today been told that there are no places are available and that i will have to join the march 2013 intake. aswel as this i have been informed that my bursary will stop until i return. i have looked on the nhs bursaries website and they mention that if uni cannot allow me to go back then i can extend my mat leave. nhs bursaries say its down to the uni to organise but when i have spoken to my university they seem very unwilling to help me stating that i could go on benefits or get a job. benefits is not really an option due to my partner working and as for a job in this economic climate its very unlikely especially one that will be for 6 months that will pay for my rent which is what my bursary covers and also the added cost of childcare.

i am really stuck and unsure of who to turn to. does anyone know the details around this situation and what i can do to resolve it????

InvisibleE Thu 10-May-12 23:48:01

I am EU student whom applied for a student finances tuition loan for an academic year 2012/13. I already have been confirmed for an undergraduate course in Kingston university. However, i am confused whether i am eligible for this Loan, because i have studied BA in my home country, but didn't finish it. Is there any chance getting a positive reply from SLC? And if it would be a problem, how could i manage it?
Regards
E

icecreamlover456 Tue 29-May-12 14:08:43

My daughter is doing adult nursing for three years, she gets a bursery, and a means tested student loan, she has used her loan to pay the rent, now has no money for food etc. can she get any extra help. she is a wlesh student studying in england. thank you

CaliforniaLeaving Wed 06-Jun-12 00:33:30

My son British Citizen is moving home to Wales for College. Is there any student finance help for him? He'll be considered an international student so has higher fees. I'm looking for some student loans that he can start paying after he finishes he course. We will be living near him by then and can help with the payments.

purple15 Tue 12-Jun-12 08:16:31

I am thinking of doing the social work degree. I have already got a foundation degree in another subject. I believe I will be entitled to student finance as I have never borrowed anything before having funded the foundation degree myself.
My question is once I qualify ideally I will get a part time position. If my salary is £19000, how will I pay it back?
I am 41 years old.

purple15 Tue 12-Jun-12 08:17:28

Just realized the thread is probably closed.

PolishSmurf Thu 12-Jul-12 23:10:19

Hi In response to Indith's message I have just experienced this, have been through two months of very stressful competitive interview process, gained a place to study MA in social work, told my current employers that I plan to leave in September only to be told today that I am not eligible for childcare. The only reason given is that my partner earns too much although childcare costs alone would take 2/3 of his salary with no thought given to living costs at all for us as a family of four. At no point were we asked about commitments such as mortgage. If there is a specific cut off salary it would be really useful to know this figure in advance. I have no understanding of how this is worked out and feel really angry now that I have wasted my time in this process that I now actually cannot undertake.

minimandy666 Tue 21-Aug-12 20:07:02

Hi there I am very new to this site (5m ago)

I am hoping that I could have some help please confused ?
I am trying to move onto my next year off college whing is HNC level now, I am a lone parent & have two daughters ages 5 & 18months. I have applyd for all the SAAS funding that I can (awating backlog response) .., But have been told that I have to apply to the college I am attending for Childcare then Housing.
There is a cap on the funding for childcare & mines would be a few more hundered ponds more than this so was told to put an appeal in which I did & got told I didnt win sad .., But to make things worse when I said I was applying for Housing costs to I was told that the cap of £4000 was for childcare & hpusing costs together confused so the ladys I have spoke to have said I will get zero for housing hmm & said I should come back when girls have grew up sad I have also been to advice works & whoever else I could about this as I am reasured the I can definatly not get Housing benefit either envy Surely I do not havto wait untill my girls have grew up to get the qualifications I need to better my life?? angry I have been ill about this as college have definatly says I cant get both funds.., could anyone please help me?? & tell me weather or not I should even go on the start date of my course????? thanx if u can help [thanx] xxx

Mrsmila Sun 16-Sep-12 17:59:32

I have a daughter who will be going to university. I am a bit stuck with the financial paperwork side of things. Do our savings affect her entitlement for loans and or grants.

tyruma84 Thu 21-Feb-13 22:44:05

Hi,
I am a 3rd year student at university (my final year).
For the first 2 years of my course i was a single parent on benefits, so i automatically qualified for the childcare grant from student finance.
Then in september 2012, the start of my final year, i moved in with my partner. I sent all relevant evidence to student finance and recieved an entitlement letter which had my loan and grant on, but not my childcare. I rang student finance more times than i can remember to see what was going on with my childcare and was told different things each time until eventually after nearly 5 months i was told that i am not entitled to it because my circumstances (moving in with my partner) meant that our financial commitments could not be taken into account as they were not in place before the start of the academic year.
So, does this mean that if your circumstances change there is nothing in place to help students like me?
We can not afford the childcare for our daughter and i now face the possibility of failing my degree because i am struggling with my childcare.

Help would be appreciated :/

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