Hundreds of student nurses across England – including many at the University of Suffolk - have been warned not to expect further loan payments this year due to administrative errors in the loans system.
This has left many students, who had budgeted according to their promised loan payment, concerned over rent and living costs for the next six months.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called on the Student Loans Company (SLC) to write off erroneous overpayments that range from £600 to £3,900, and RCN Eastern staff are updating members affected in our region.
Students from at least nine universities in England have received letters explaining how the government-owned SLC will not pay further loan instalments in order to recover the amounts. Nursing students said the decision would affect their personal budgeting through to the start of the next academic year in September.
RCN Chief Executive Janet Davies has asked the body’s chief executive to use existing overpayment policies to reach agreement with the Education Secretary not to recover these amounts.
As well as the University of Suffolk, the RCN is also aware of students being affected in Derby, Southampton and West London.
Students who queried the amounts with the loans body have reported receiving reassurances that the sums were correct. The SLC has since confirmed it has been aware since January.
It is understood that the payments - made to second and third-year students - had not been adjusted for the NHS bursary they still receive.
Leanne Arnold, a student from the University of Suffolk, said: “Since I have been affected by the blockage of my second payment I am having to contemplate selling my car in order to raise finances to continue my course.
“I am so upset. I was reassured over and over about how the assessed amount was correct even though it was not.
“I just hope they can show some remorse and offer students a solution so they can carry on with their studies.”
Helen Maw, RCN Eastern Senior Officer for Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “The largest overpayments were made to the poorest students. These are recipients of means-tested grants, often mature students without parental support and with children or caring responsibilities.
“This issue is causing incredible anguish among the students affected at a time when they are trying to focus on their studies and forthcoming exams.”
Teresa Budrey, RCN Eastern Regional Director, said: “We are incredibly concerned about the amount of distress this error, and the subsequent action by the SLC, is causing.
“Student nurses already face significant financial challenges as the placements they undertake as part of their studies mean they are unable to take on paid work.
“We now hope that the SLC will take on board our concerns and make the decision to write-off these overpayments before they cause any further distress.”