The SLC have recently enabled payments to be made online so that students can avoid overpaying.Green Chameleon/UNSPLASH

The Student Loans Company (SLC) has been holding £18.3 million in overpayments from former students and graduates from 2015 to 2020, with almost 60,000 awaiting refund.

The figures from the SLC, which were obtained through freedom of information requests, show that the company, which is responsible for providing government-backed tuition and maintenance loans, owes more than £18 million to former students.

This amount has accumulated since 2015-16 and includes £2 million in overpayments made in 2019-20.

In 2019 Research Professional News reported that £21.6 million was owed by the SLC over the previous five year period. Although the equivalent figure of £18.3 million demonstrates that there has been a slight reduction in overpayments, there are still thousands of students who have not been refunded.

According to the data from 2019, the SLC held £6.3 million in overpayments from 2015-16, but the current figures demonstrate that 81% of this amount – totalling £5.1 million – remains unrefunded.

The majority of overpayments had been caused by the fact that the SLC and the HMRC only exchanged data once a year, but from 2019 the two organisations have done so every week to minimise the chance of overpayments. However, the SLC can only locate and refund former students if their contact details are up to date.

Additionally, since last year the SLC have allowed payments to be made online for the first time so that students can manage their loans more easily and avoid overpaying.

According to a spokesperson for the SLC, this has “resulted in a 38 per cent drop in the amount over-repaid since 2018,” but former students must ensure that their contact details are correct so that they can be refunded.


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“Customers can avoid over-repayment by opting to pay their student loan by direct debit during the last two years of repayment. We contact every customer two years prior to the end of their loan and urge them to switch their repayments to direct debit during this period.

“In addition, we now automatically refund customers and last year we automatically refunded £3.5m, but we can only do so if we hold up-to-date contact information.”

Rachel Hewitt, director of policy and advocacy at the Higher Education and Policy Institute told PA Media that it was “unethical” for students receiving the loan to be responsible for ensuring that they do not overpay, and that this points to wider failures within the system.

She adds, “It is essential that this is addressed, to avoid further distrust in the loans system.”