/ Money

Does the Student Loans Company owe you money?

Student depressed looking at bills

Something’s gone horribly wrong with student loans. We’ve found that 57,000 former students are waiting for refunds worth £15 million. All because the Student Loans Company and HMRC can’t communicate.

The amount owed to ex-students came to light after Which? heard from several disgruntled graduates.

They found that payments were still being taken from their accounts even though they had already faithfully repaid all the money they owed.

A confusing and inadequate system

It seems the problem is that the repayments system is woefully inadequate. Here’s how it works:

Sounds simple, right? Nah, not a bit of it. HMRC and SLC don’t co-ordinate their records until the end of the financial year. At this time they compare notes and if the loan has been repaid, SLC kindly tells HMRC to stop taking payments.

Of course, if you still owe some money – even one month’s worth of instalments – SLC gives the green light for HMRC to continue processing payments for the rest of the new financial year – unless they are told otherwise. This means your account could continue to be debited for another 11 months after you completed your repayments.

Detriment, what detriment?

SLC maintains that overpayments aren’t a problem because you’ll get your money back at the end of the next financial year, so borrowers suffer no financial disadvantage. But that’s rubbish.

Most people who are paying off student loans aren’t wealthy. So it’s possible that the extra overpayments do put them in a tight spot, such as when their rent increases or, heaven forbid, when Christmas is looming. They may end up taking out credit cards or loans, which each come with their own costs.

Given all the furore surrounding tuition fees, the already sizeable level of student debt is only going to rise, leaving more ex-students paying off even more and for longer. Surely it’s time for SLC and HMRC to get their acts together?

Comments
Philip Cowan says:
5 January 2011

Thanks for highlighting this issue. My student loan was paid off a year or so ago but I was not informed of this by the Student Loan Company until recently. However, even now it continues to take money directly from my wages (last payment made in December 2010).

I only found out about this when I changed jobs and, even though money was still being taken paid, SLC sent a sniffy letter demanding to know my new employee details. When I finally got through to them by telephone, they informed me of my overpayments.

Some of the money has been repaid (amounts due from December 2009 to March 2010), but I have had to submit evidence of payments since April 2010 to get back my own money (bizarre but true) — and I am still waiting for this to be processed.

Furthermore, SLC is STILL taking money from wages, even though I called them again to tell them to please stop.

Two small asides to this tale: my bank has charged me more than £100 in overdraft fees and my mobile phone company has charged me a huge amount to call the SLC customer services number.

It seems like such a battle just to stay on top of these companies and make sure they are not robbing us.

Russell Drew says:
9 February 2015

I am disgusted with the fact that I paid off my student loan last march, yet the HMRC continue to deduct £42/month from my pittance of a wage.
I have told the SLC 2 months ago that I was aware my Student loan had been cleared in March 2014, they clearly are abetting the HMRC in order to extort more money from me.
Like the HMRC I should be allowed to charge the £100 fee for failing to be timely with tax returns and as a penalty for taking money that is not owed to them, in other words theft, like them I should be able to charge a daily fee.
Sooner or later, HMRC and Student Loans Company would be able to communicate.
How stupid are these people? and how stupid do they think we are?
Oh and why is the SLC in Glasgow…..they don’t even pay for their education. The rest of us are paying for them I suppose.

Stephen Jamieson says:
27 February 2011

I can only add to the frustration expressed by this article.

Despite repeated attempts over a 5 month period to stop the automated salary deductions, SLC seem to STILL be incapable of contacting HMRC to issue a ‘stop command’!

Yet another month goes by and another large slice of my earnings vanishes into this inexplicable government black hole!

I have at least 2 colleagues who are in exactly the same situation.

The most frustrating part is that there appears to be no path for escalation or accountable authority in which to challenge.

Can anyone shed some light on whether anyone is taking any notice of the scandal that is the SLC?!

Chris says:
6 April 2011

These people are theives, not only have they been silently charging me without ever sending me a statement, now they owe me money aparently I have to get copies of all of my payslips and send it to them as they dont know how to use a calculator to add up when it was paid off then subtract the additional. Idiots and theives.

lorna says:
30 March 2011

I found out today that I have overpaid for over a year (£170/month) this is a substancial part on my income…I am overdrawn nearly every month because I find it diffiuclt to make ends meat living in London, this money would have gone a long way to making my monthy wage go a lot further. I am absolutley outraged that they can do this, particulary in this finacial climate. It amounts to stealing!

Al says:
6 May 2011

I notified SLC that I had finished paying my student loan in February (Calculated from my statement and pay slips) They said they would inform HMRC and they would stop. In March they took another payement. I rang SLC again they said it can take up to 28 days to stop. So in April, when they took another payment I was not happy!
They now have taken over £600 extra!
Still waiting for it to be repayed!

David says:
31 May 2016

You can’t wait, they will just keep it, I was told on the phone today. You have to ring them they tell you the figure but then you have to prove it by sending them paperwork!

tashalouiza says:
25 May 2011

I paid off my student loan in August. Despite eleven letters (and counting), we are now in a new financial year and those thieves are still taking deductions through PAYE. They have repaid £651 stolen during August – November, and still owe me £1600. I am on a reasonable salary, but losing this amount of money every month really is not reasonable: it is equivalent to the cost of maintaining, taxing, insuring and fuelling our car, and paying for my monthly tube ticket!

Lizzie says:
31 July 2011

Well where do I start……

My husband paid off his student loan when he graduated in 2007, he entered full time employment and has been ever since. He changed companies in Jan 2010 and the SLC sent him a letter to say he owed them money. He sent across proof that he had paid off the full early redemption amount they sent across, this took about 4 months, funny that it took that long and it probably had nothing to do with it entering a new tax year. He gets bonuses at work so normally pays £200 a month, but when he gets a bonus they take around £600. We’ve added up they owe around £4,000 now not including interest. He hasn’t had his p60 yet and the companies accountant seems totally incapable of sorting out his statement of earnings. This is really getting on my edges now as we recently got married and paid for the wedding ourselves, this was made a lot harder due to them helping themselves.

I don’t get how they can say that all monies have been repaid, do absolutely squat about it, take their sweet time in sorting anything out, are happy to say that he has reaoid, yet we are stuck as the accountant is useless.

It’s no wonder working people in this country are sick of the way they are treated, I owe student loans money and am quite happy to repay, but for him it makes my blood boil.

It is so frustrating. They still keep taking the money even though I’ve twice been assured that they won’t take any more. The most laughable thing is that I had to send off copies of my payslips (April to August) so they’d be able to refund me – so I photocopied them …. BUT apparently, the date on the July payslip was ‘unclear’ … and so they didn’t refund me that! Common sense says that if I’d been paying £100 in April, £100 in May, £100 in June, and £100 in August, then there’s a HIGH probability that I’d also paid the £100 in the July too.

So, I’ve had to send another copy off, along with September’s payslip too because they still took £100 in Sep after assuring me that they’d been stopped. I called them, and they assured me that they’d definitely be stopped from then on.

GUESS WHAT!!! October’s payslip “Student Loan Deduction £100”

ALL YOU NEED IS A BOX IN EXCEL WHICH SAYS – ‘IF the amount payed <= 0 THEN STOP TAKING MY MONEY!"

Vicky says:
20 November 2011

I have now received two refunds. One in July last year for £1221 and another in October this year for £1058. Nothing other than a letter to say I am due a refund has been sent. However, I have just had a default notice appear for an amount of £388 on my credit file for my other loan from 2009.
This is because I stupidly didn’t fill out my deferment form in time which is my own stupid fault, however, the payment is not showing as settled even though it was paid and now I have a default on my credit file until 2015. I’ve worked so hard over the past few years to build up my credit rating with all my accounts showing “satisfactory” and now this big red default is showing. Had SLC not been taking £85 a month from my bank that I shouldn’t have been paying, maybe the default wouldn’t be there in the first place. It’s absolutely infuriating.
When I contacted them this week regarding the default, they tried to tell me that it was because I haven’t deferred this year! This was incorrect information to start with. I had already spoken to them weeks ago after they gave me the option of deferring or making a payment. I chose to start making payments (is this not a good thing?); a direct debit was set up by them starting this month, also covering the last two months. Then, after my frustrating conversation with them regarding the default, I received a letter 2 says ago (17th) dated the 8th November, saying I am in arrears for £60.20 and I have charges of £20!! What the hell is going on?!
Has anyone had any success with these issues? I’m off to Citizens Advice!

Amanda says:
21 February 2012

The SLC paid my university an extra year of tuition fees without my authorisation and now they’ve added it to my balance so I’m 3k more in debt than I should be! They say I need to wait 4 months for this to be corrected 🙁

Oh that’s terrible. Make sure they don’t charge you for inflation on that 3k

Amanda says:
21 February 2012

They assure me this will be accounted for but after my recent conversations where they don’t even seem to be able to use a calculator properly, I am doubtful! And when I tried to make a formal complaint I was asked ‘But why do you want to complain, it will all be sorted out by Summer?’……grrrr 3k is not sweetie money…that’s a massive figure to me!

Amanda says:
21 February 2012

And what worries me more is that at first no one at SLC agreed that there had been an error until I sent them my calculations based on my notification letters. I just wonder whether there are people who never even realise there has been a mistake!

Vicky says:
21 February 2012

Hi Amanda,

I was fed up about being fobbed off so i contacted the Financial Ombudsman who immediately sent notification of my complaint to SLC and sent me a copy in the post. They were really helpful and quick. I’ll see what happens next.

0800 0234567

It may be worth you giving then a try?

Thanks, V

Amanda says:
21 February 2012

Hey Vicky!

Thanks for that tip – I think I may do this 🙂 I was going to call them later and say that I was going to speak to a solicitor because it amounts to theft! Not sure if that is too heavy handed. Last time I spoke to them the guy told me to go and pester my university to re-pay the SLC! I don’t see why that’s my job when I never authorised the payment in the first place 🙁

Frustrating!

Amanda

Vicky says:
21 February 2012

I’ve had the same, I have a book now that I write in every time I speak to them with names and dates and times.

I had to chase them for months every week to get them to sort out the student loan I had overpaid! When HMRC and SLC got their act together, my employer received a stop notification in someone else’s name. Again, I had to write to both to get them to sort it out. This will be the first month after two years of paying my loan off that SLC don’t take any of my money! Yippee!

Word of advice though, try and write to them and send everything recorded. It’s a right pain in the you know what’s but they have tried every trick in the book with me including “we couldn’t read your wage slip” or “we haven’t received you letter”. I did both, letters and calls to back them up. I must have spent about two weeks of full time emplyment sorting it out. They owe me wages!

Definately call FO though. Solicitors cost money!

Good Luck!

Amanda says:
21 February 2012

Thanks Vicky – I will start writing everything down in future! They are a slippery bunch indeed – twice I haven’t had my phone conversation logged as having occurred when I phoned back :/

Makes me wish I never took out the loan in the first place 🙁

Good luck with sorting yours out too!

Amanda

Hi,

I received a letter stating that my student loan would be paid off with a final payment from my July pay. However the SLC has continued to take payments in August and September.

I really can’t understand how they can continue to take payments when I advised them in writing a month prior to paying my loan off to stop taking payments in July.

Secondly I have written letters in August and September, including copies of my wage slips as evidence they are still taking payments.

Following several calls to SLC, they claim that nothing will be taken out of October’s pay. However I am sceptical.

Watch this space for my progress (or not).

Any advice let me know

Cheers

Amanda says:
15 October 2012

In my experience you have to be very very firm with them and emphasise that you’re not happy being stolen from! I think sometimes people think that as long as the spreadsheet balances at the end of the day, then it doesn’t really matter! This is obviously not the case. Start a formal complaint via email (details on their website) and cc the Financial Ombudsman 🙂 Worked for me!

Just sent the Student Loans Co a SMALL CLAIM (for any amount in dispute up to 5k) from your local county court for the money they continue to take after the debt has been paid off. It will cost you approx £150 -£400 depending on how much per month they are stealing from your salary. The judge will order them to stop immediately and to pay the cost of the court case, and your small claim fee, and will award you interest. Do this immediately – the more people to do this – the rules will be changed quicker. You cannot argue with idiots.

Amber says:
11 June 2013

Fair enough it’s a bit of a hassle and not exactly the best thing on your wallet. But this company gave us the money in the first place to fund our uni/college. I think a lot of your words are unfair and calling them idiots and blaming them for everything, what you need to remember is student loans works within a network of the government and hmrc and all need to run smoothly too work. I spoke to a really helpful young boy at slc when I phoned regarding my refund. He explained that in order for my deductions to stop hmrc would notify my employer. 3 months later and numerous requests to put the stop through I received a phone call from student loans who advised me that it was actually my employer who hadn’t updated his details with Hmrc and so they couldn’t find him to tell them to stop taking my student loan off my salary ergo my employers fault. I had to send my payslips to them as they only receive word of my deductions on a yearly basis and apparently that is the procedure set buy the business innovation and skill department and not student loans themselves. They just follow line. At the end of the day I received my money back with interest and that was that. Again it may be a bit of a hassle but I got my money back at the end of the day, so I wouldn’t exactly call the, thieves……generally thieves don’t return your money. A x

Rob says:
17 July 2013

Whilst its great that you received your money back the statement from the SLC does not stack up. How can HMRC ‘not find’ your employer when they are most probably receiving tax income tax contributions from them?

The whole student loans repayment process is so unnecessarily complex and poorly adminstered it can only have been dreamed up by lethargic state agencies and jobsworth local authorities. It’s a struggle to even reset your password on the SLC website!

Personally I am now similarly chasing them for over payments and someone to put a stop notice on my account 4 months after repayment and, to be honest, I fully expected this to happen prior to repaying…

Laura says:
20 November 2014

I changed jobs in January 2014 and the SLC started to take payments off me. I have never had a loan with them and have been contacting them for months to get this money back. I have sinced moved jobs (and countries) again and this is the only reason they have stopped taking payments from me, but I have so far been unable to get any of the money they owe me back despite my 2 letters, 5 emails and countless (very expensive) phone calls. I am so angry right now.

Stewart says:
26 June 2013

I’m in the same situation as most people above I finished paying my student loan at Christmas 2012 but they continued to take my money even after the end of the financial year. Now that is stealing in my book. Owed just under £1’000.

Richard says:
24 April 2014

Very nearly May 2014 and the saga continues. Nothing has changed.
I had to pay HMRC £1500 more than i owed because the student loans company and my accountant couldn’t alter the amount i had to pay.
I called both HMRC and SLC to find out when HMRC was going to pay the SLC. Neither company could actually put a date on it.
That was in January. It’s now the end of April.
I spoke to the SLC today.
My case is now ‘in review’. The SLC have written to HMRC asking for a ‘review’ of the account to check to see if the loan has been repaid. The HMRC will then contact the SLC to tell the SLC to write to me so i can organise getting a refund.
When I asked the SLC when this would happen, they ‘couldn’t put a date on it. It’s a bit of a waiting game really, just keep your eyes open for a letter from us, or HMRC’.

If i have to go down the producing payslips and having more lengthy phone conversations, particularly with computerised phone systems, am I allowed to charge them for the amount of time i spend sorting out what would seem to be their problem.

I’m currently self employed, very busy, and will end up losing money trying to sort it out. I will also probably incur costs from my accountant recovering payslips etc.

Also probably a silly question, but still. Do the SLC and HMRC pay interest on the money they owe me? I mean, I can’t even e-mail them. I’m sure that if I owed them money, they would be charging me.

Thoughts?

anon says:
21 July 2014

The SLC repayment system is absoloutely ridiculous! Despite moving abroad I decided to faithfully continue repaying my loan.
Saying that they ‘communicate’ to one another at the end of the financial year is simply not true! – I had already overpaid by around 2.5k by april this year. Now in almost august they are STILL taking repayments from me, and i have had nothing returned to me. Given I live on the other side of the world its an absolute nightmare time wise, not to mention expense wise trying to get in touch with them and im at a loss as to how to communicate with these people.
They currently owe me around 3.5K!!! money I could really use in my bank account! – wonder if they will pay ME the interest on that?!

John Davies says:
20 March 2017

Bet you’d wished you’d given them the finger eh? Well, that’s what you should have done, paying for education is immoral.

Sacha Morrabi says:
1 August 2014

How is this legal? Having found that the student loans companies records were two years out of date from HMRC, they insisted that I send copies of all payslips for the two year period by post (not email!). After they received this, they entered the amounts on the payslips incorrectly to their systems. Having established that I have now cleared my loan, not only have they not managed to reimburse me the correct amount, they have continued to draw amounts now totalling £1500 from my pay as they havent sent my employer the signal asking them to stop, despite assuring me this was done months ago.
Is there any way to take them to court? I am livid and still out of pocket.

Rebecca West says:
29 September 2014

I found out I am owed a rebate by the SLC a couple of months ago and they asked me to send them my payslips for the financial year.

I did that in Mid August and now late September I have called to get an eta on my rebate, I was told that on the 17th sept they logged receipt of my payslips but noted they didn’t have an up to date bank details – no one has tried to contact me regarding this.

During the calls, of which there were two – and for which I was on hold in excess of 1hr 30mins. I was informed they couldn’t update my bank details unless I can provide details of my bank account from 2004!!!! Needless to say I have not kept information on banking for a decade – something I dont think many people do!

My repeated requests to speak to a manager were refused, and they don’t enable call backs so a manager could contact me, nor could anyone in a team who’s computer might actually work.

I believe I have been repeated lied to on the calls today – is it because the SLC aren’t actually accountable to their customers, that apparently poor customer service is acceptable?? If they were a ltd company accountable for their poor customer service they’d have had to improve or be vilified e.g. NTL!

Is there any advise to be able to get my money back from them? is there a way I can escalate this?

Becca

Richard says:
29 September 2014

I had a similar scenario with the lovely people at the SLC.
Your next step should be in the form of a letter. Sent recorded delivery to the SLC, HMRC and your local MP.
Put on the top of the letter who you are sending the letter to. I.e. All of the above.
The letter should outline your problems, how much of a rebate you are owed and a timescale in which you think the problem should be rectified.
For example ask for a reply within 7 days of receiving the letter.
Then, (you will probably have to do this), a follow up phone call to check to see if the relevant parties have received the letter. Recorded delivery means that someone has to sign for theetter when it is delivered, starting a paper trail.

I then wrote a follow up letter a week later stating bat nothing had happened and attached an invoice for my time taken in sorting out their administrative problems.

These problems are mainly created in the lack of communication between the SLC and HMRC.

This resulted in a prompt payment of my rebate.

Hope this helps.

Mark Rees says:
30 September 2014

I have now over paid by about £2000. I have reported this several times and been promised they will stop taking further payments from now on. This was now two months ago and since then they have taken another £400 each month! This is a joke! They are basically steeling money from me and I can’t do a thing about it. I spoke to someone yesterday at the student loans company, who again promised something would be done but she still can’t guarantee further payment won’t be taken. Why is this happening? I agreed to burrow a certain amount and repay. This I have now done but they have taken an additional £2000 and still continue to take more. Can anyone help?

Amanda says:
30 September 2014

I suggest you write a letter attached to an email and cc in the financial ombudsman. After I did this they got their act together very quickly. Start the process with the ombudsman now because it takes 6 weeks or so but may be resolved by then if you let SLC know. Also second what someone said above, be very firm and record details of everyone you speak to.