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Government Plans To Simplify Student Loans Process

Potential students received some welcome news when the Government announced plans to allow candidates to apply for loans online, at the same time they apply for their place at university under new plans.

Higher education minister Bill Rammell announced plans for student loans, aimed at making them clearer, faster, and accurate.

" I want students to understand that they don't have to worry about how they will pay their fees and living costs: they can take out loans or grants and only have to begin paying back their loans once they are earning more than £15,000," Mr Rammell said.

" The student finance service needs to be as simple and accessible as possible to students, parents and graduates.

"As well as clearer information, faster decisions, timely payments and accurate repayments, the transformed service intends to provide taxpayers with better value for money by generating savings from delivery processes to be spent on other priorities."

Former education secretary Ruth Kelly published a review in January of higher education student finance, the results of which prompted the proposed changes to student loans and the inherent application process. The new changes include:

  • A redesigned, integrated assessment and payment service delivered by a reformed Student Loans Company, thereby providing customers with a more uniform, consistent level of service regardless of where they live in England.
  • High quality information, advice and guidance, including an online financial calculator for students, giving information about their entitlement to statutory support and allowing them to compare bursary offers from different institutions.

Much faster decisions and payments through an enhanced online service, designed around students and parents. The service will work out from the customer's individual profile the steps they need to take, rather than the student having to work through lengthy forms and guidance notes.

Mr Rammell added: " Going to university can be exciting and life changing as well as academically and socially rewarding. We want to continue with our work to widening access to everyone academic potential".

Those students applying for university places in 2009/10 will be the first students to experience the new changes to student loans.

The current system for student loans has come in for some recent criticism from student bodies and consumer debt groups, leading to calls for an overhaul to student loans.

Changes will start to come into force for students applying to university in 2009/10.

Alisdair Milton
4th July 2006



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