Hundreds of student nurses are facing completing the current academic year without further loan payments after an administrative error from the Student Loans Company (SLC).
In a letter sent by the SLC, students from at least nine universities in England have been told they will receive no more loan instalments after the body mistakenly overpaid on some students’ loan payments earlier this year.
It is thought that the overpayments range from £600 to £3,900, and that the SLC were aware of the problem back in January, which was caused by payments not being adjusted for those still in receipt of the NHS bursary. It means that the largest overpayments have been made to the poorest students – those receiving means-tested grants.
But in an attempt to recover the overpayments, the SLC have decided that they will not pay any further instalments to students for the remainder of the academic year, leaving some nursing students without income for rent and living costs until September.
Universities that have been affected by the error include Derby, West London, Southampton and Suffolk.
Emma Moss, a nursing student in the final year of her degree at the University of West London, said that when she called the SLC back in September 2017 to question her payments, she was told that there was ‘no error’.
She said: ‘Now they tell me that I owe almost £800 and will not be receiving my next instalment. If they take this money from me, I have no idea what I’m going to do next.
‘This is the last thing I need in the final few months of my nursing degree. I’m worried sick about being left with barely enough money to pay the rent, buy food and travel to work and university.’
Royal College of Nursing chief executive Janet Davies has called on the SLC to write off the overpayments and use existing policies to reach an agreement with the education secretary Damian Hinds.
Writing in a letter to the SLC, Ms Davies said: ‘Students budget according to loan forecast and a sudden withdrawal of payment can have disastrous results, such as inability to pay rent. This action comes at a critical time when students are studying for exams and projects.
‘I am very concerned about the considerable amount of distress and disruption this error and subsequent action is causing. Student nurses, or indeed any students, are simply not in a position to cope with a sharp reduction in expected loan payments.’