University rectifies SLC shortfall

Students need not worry about not receiving their loan instalments in time for enrolment, says the University of Lincoln.

Due to unforeseen circumstances the Student Loans Company (SLC) has been unable to process almost 150,000 loan applications, leaving students panicking about paying rent and tuition fees.

Chris Charnley, Lincoln Student Union’s president, has released a statement explaining that the SU and the university are working together to ensure students have a hassle-free arrival in Lincoln.

“The university is asking students who are intending to pay fees or accommodation charges using a student loan to make a commitment to pay as soon as their loan comes through,” says Charnley.

This “commitment to pay” is a written agreement that simply states that the student will pay the fees within a suitable date when they have been paid by the SLC.

Students just need to go to enrolment as normal and verbally confirm they have applied for a loan. The SLC will then be notified that the student is at university and the loan will be paid directly when it arrives, so the process remains as stress free as possible.

This only affects new students as returning students who have re-applied for loans are still dealt with by their local authorities.

Judith Carey, the director of Student Services at the university, speculated that around a quarter of the new intake she has spoken to in today welcome talks have not yet recieved their loan.

“Some of these people may have applied late, but we are prepared to help students with the commitment to pay scheme and the access to learning fund,” says Carey.

Student Services offer a short term loan from the university through this fund that can help students who need help paying for living costs and accommodation.

“This is a last resort loan for students who have nowhere to turn and is designed to tide them over until their maintanance loan or grant arrives.”

Private accommodation providers are also trying to help students. Brayford Quays student accommodation have put in place a split payment scheme. This allows students to pay just one months rent and then pay smaller installments until their loan arrives and they can pay off the balance.

Lesley Mawson, the accommodation manager, says that this is nothing new and in previous years students who have had problems paying rent have been given a number of different options to help.

“We are waiting to see how many of our tenants are affected by the loan problem before we make any more plans but if students come and speak to us we can arrange split payments to give time for their loans or grants to come through,” says Mawson.

For the first time, new university students are being dealt with centrally by the SLC rather than their local authorities.

The SLC has been criticised for being under-prepared, and for only taking on 120 extra staff to cope with the huge number of applicants applying for grants and loans.

The chair of the Innovation, Universities, and Skills Select Committee, Phil Willis MP, says: “It has been chaos; a bureaucratic nightmare. The SLC doesn’t have the staff or software to deal with it”.

In fairness, a record 623,389 students are starting university this year, with many filing late applications through clearing as a result of increased competition for places.

The chaos has sparked much confusion and concerned parents but, as long as the university is given notice about any payment delays at enrolment, the necessary arrangements can be made and financial options can be discussed.

The SU are also suggesting that a student overdraft may be useful to help cope with living costs while waiting for loans or grants. You must remember this will have to be paid back and you must be wary of overdraft charges.

The Linc would like to hear your comments if you are having problems with your loan.

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