“Student loans are part of the government’s financial support package for students embarking on a course of higher education. They are available to help higher education students meet their living costs while studying.”
Unless you’re particularly well off or a working and responsible student, it’s likely you’ll need to apply for a loan during your univeristy days. The loans are pretty easy to attain and of course, you have to read all the blurb and sign your life away, but you do it because everyone else is doing it and you probably need it to pay for your residency for the first year.
Ok, now you’ve got your money and the contract you’ve signed just goes into the paperwork files you’ve started to collect since the start of term, to be forgotten about for the next few years. I’ve got years to finish university and start earning the minimum amount before I start paying for that thing, you think to yourself.
All is good and well and then you find yourself working and starting to pay back the loan. Still, everything is fine and dandy until you’re not working for a short while. If it so happens that the short while turns into a long while, this is where Student Loans reminds you that you’re no longer a student and therefore will not receive as much help as before.
I call up one afternoon, realising that student loans are going to suck my account dry if they continue to take their £45 a month while I’m not receiving any income. The gentleman on the other end of the line is quite happy to tell me the payments have been cancelled and I sigh a small relief. This is where I was silly and didn’t read the small print. You can’t cancel, just like that, assuming that Student Loans will realise that you’re not working, just as they realised you were in the first place when they decided to start taking from your account - oh no, no no.
You have to apply for deferment.
Now, I’m guessing the man who cancelled my payments either thought I already knew this or was unaware of that fact himself. It took them 3 months to tell me in writing, by which time I had incurred arrears.
With this I call up and say that I’m still not working and they say ‘You must fill out a deferment form with all your incomings and outgoings and then we’ll notify you if you can defer.’ So I fill out a form and send it back with bank statements, hoping that they will process it quickly so I don’t incur more arrears. A month later I received a letter saying that I hadn’t given enough information and that more proof of my income was required, all the while racking up charges for lack of payments.
Okay, I do blame myself for not claiming jobseeker’s allowance. It’s something that I just don’t want to get into, and the only reason I would have to, is because Student Loans are being a bitch. So finally, I get my father to write a letter to them saying he send me money on an irregular basis and they accept and defer payment for 8 months. (Not the normal 12 months because I had already been allowed the 4 months I didn’t know I had been a bad boy).
Do you think that solves the problem? You’re right - it doesn’t. Even though you can defer proper payments, you can’t defer arrears. So now the Students Loans Company are on my back for regular payments of the arrears. I mean, isn’t it enough to prove that I’m not in the right financial state to pay the normal demands without having to prove that I can’t suddenly magic money for arrears as if it’s a different currency? I could try bartering, but my mother wants to keep her other children.
I know there will be ways around it and it’s my fault, but what is wrong with them? The staff are always condescending, like they’re reading a script on the do’s and don’ts of repayments with that ‘oh, here we go, another stupid fish trying get through the net’ voice - bitches.