Student Loans, the debt that many aren’t in a rush to pay off.
Those in other parts of the world, like the US, where loans tend to be much bigger in value and have commercial interest rates, may think this is crazy. However, in the UK it is a somewhat automated process, with repayments deducted directly from an employee’s salary once they earn over the threshold amount. Student Loans Company (SLC) issue a statement annually summarising repayments. Many people barely glance at this then file it away. Students pre-2012, like myself, received loans with really low interest rates meaning that student loans were one of the cheapest debts you could have.
Since then Student Loan arrangements have changed. Fees have gone up and interest rates charged are higher. So those who went to University from 2012 onwards are likely to have a different approach (at least I hope they do).
What’s the story?
My memory is pretty good, particularly when it comes to debt. So you can imagine the horror when I received a statement showing an increase in the amount owed. I had been in employment ALL YEAR, exceeded the threshold ALL YEAR and could see repayments deducted from my pay packet EVERY MONTH. What was going on????
Called up SLC, to confirm if the statement was in accordance with their records, which they confirmed. I explained that a whole year’s repayments seemed to have been missing, and then that’s when they explained how the process worked.
I had always thought that repayments somehow got to them on a monthly basis (perhaps naively given the sheer administrative task that would be). Instead, repayments go from your employer to HMRC (Her Majesty’s Customs & Revenue – the tax authority). They are then passed to SLC on an annual basis (strange, given interest on the debt accrues monthly, but hey guess we can’t have it all).
To resolve the issue I would need to prove that I had made repayments via my pay and send the relevant support via post (no online option!) to an address up in Scotland. If an error had been made they would then factor this in and backdate interest calculations to the time when it should have been paid (if processed correctly).
So I completed the required actions and then….NOTHING. For months, no confirmation of receipt of documents (thankfully I sent via recorded delivery so I could see it had arrived) and no contact from SLC. Then 3 or 4 months later an updated statement is sent showing the corrected outstanding balance and adjusted interest. Result!
Moral of the Story
Don’t take it for granted that your repayments are being processed correctly. Keep an eye on your statements and keep copies of pay slips, tax documents (e.g. P60) and additional repayment confirmations as proof. (You should keep the first two items anyway in the event you were subject to a tax investigation).
PIN IT FOR LATER