Over £28 million in overpaid student loans is being withheld by the government, even though payees have already been identified, data from the Student Loans Company (SLC) shows.
Student Loans Company data shows that almost half a million English university graduates overpaid their loans by an average of nearly £600 – worth over £28 million in total.
Research shows that for more than 510,000 students between the academic years of 2009/10 and 2017/18, deductions continued after the debt had been cleared. Over the years, the largest amount yet to be refunded is from 2015/16, with £6.3m of overpayments still outstanding.
The SLC says it has contacted people who have been overcharged to arrange refunds. An SLC spokesperson said: “We want all customers to repay the right amount and not to over-repay on their loan.”
Rik from London told to the BBC: “The whole system is convoluted and archaic. I overpaid by about £1,300 and it could have been more. If it wasn’t for me being pro-active, I’m not sure I would have been refunded.”
I overpaid by about £1,300 and it could have been more…If it wasn’t for me being pro-active, I’m not sure I would have been refunded
Paul from Derbyshire had a similar issue when dealing with the SLC and HMRC. He said: “It’s been clear to me that in order to ensure I don’t overpay I’ve had to constantly liaise with the Student Loans Company.
“I’ve been in contact with them every three months or so. This is largely to go through my payslips with them, to update the outstanding amount on their systems. I was going through every payment with them.
“They never seem to update the online balance with my monthly salary. They don’t seem to update automatically as they deduct money from my salary.”
A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson commented that overpayments are “less likely to occur”, after the implementation of new changes earlier this year. Previously, the SLC received repayment information at the end of each tax year in April, meaning there was a lag before the system recognised the loan had been paid off.
This comes after the SLC were accused of spying on students’ social media accounts during an anti-fraud campaign last year.