Complaints and Appeals – Student Finance
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In This Guide
While the student loans company, or SLC, will endeavour to make sure that you have as much financial support and personal guidance as possible when it comes to setting up for loans, grants or other types of funding, there may be circumstances through which you feel you may need to take matters further.
You may wish to make a formal complaint, to open a case to investigate why certain things have gone wrong, or you may wish to appeal against a decision made by the SLC outright. No matter where you live or study within the UK – and whether you are registered as studying here from overseas, via the EU or otherwise, there is a clear procedure for you to follow should you feel that a particular issue needs to be raised with the relevant body and people.
Why Make a Complaint?
There are various reasons as to why you may wish to escalate a particular concern with the SLC, and while these issues will obviously vary from case to case and from student to student, there are general areas of query which the team at the SLC will be able to help with should they be escalating in the direction of a complaint or grievance.
You may wish to appeal against a decision made in terms of the funding you may receive, following your application. You may not have received the full amount of money you had been informed you would. You may be receiving incorrect mail or otherwise that does not relate to your situation.
Beyond this, you may also be without any confirmation at all with regard to the funding you are set to receive. These circumstances and moments can be very frustrating – and while they are considerably few and far between on the grand scale, it is always a very good idea to make sure that you know what to do should you wish to raise any form of complaint with the SLC or the department which is likely to be handling or overseeing your case and your upcoming funding.
Whether you are simply in need of advice on where to turn next, what to expect from the next stage of your application, or if you do have a grievance which requires speedy resolution, there are plenty of different worthwhile avenues which you can take to ensure that your questions are answered.
Your First Port of Call
First and foremost, it is a good idea to get in touch with frontline SLC support advisors who will be able to point you in the right direction. This, in fact, is what is generally recommended you do in any circumstance of poor service from the company themselves – meaning that you should always call the relevant number for your concerns in the first instance should you have any growing concerns that you feel you have received a poor level of care and advice for.
It’s important to remember that calling in and attempting to resolve matters with frontline agents as your first port of call will not invalidate your options for complaining further down the line – it is merely suggested and recommended as the best initial route for you to take – as you may be able to find the resolution you are looking for without having to put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard, in any case.
Appeals or Complaints?
It’s important to understand the difference between an appeal and a complaint, and luckily, the distinction is more than clear. While you can always call the SLC’s frontline help team for either issue before you escalate matters further, it’s important that you understand the different routes for contact and resolution beyond this point should matters go further. An appeal will come into play when you are disappointed by a decision that has been made by the SLC with regard to your application for finance.
This may be in the form of tuition fee loans, maintenance grants or other awards – and if you feel that your case has been judged poorly or even unfairly, there is a further avenue you can take in an effort to have the decision reconsidered and even overturned. It’s important to note that a decision will only be deemed ‘unfair’ if it appears to directly contradict regulations laid out by the SLC. We will be looking at this in a little more detail further down the page.
Complaints refer to all other issues which you may have faced while applying for your student loans or finance. This could refer to problems you have faced in receiving documentation, the service you have received from customer service agents, administrative issues or even the money you have or haven’t received.
Appeals should be mounted when you wish to directly complain about a decision that has been made with regard to your application for finance – for everything else, while just as important, there is an alternative route for resolution. Once again, we will cover this avenue in a little more detail further down the page.
Appealing Against a Decision
Regardless of the type of finance or support you have applied for, you have the right to appeal against any decisions made with regard to the loans or grants you receive. As mentioned, there are SLC regulations set out which aim to ensure that all decisions made are fair and judged on a case-by-case basis – if you feel that your case has not been considered correctly in line with such regulations, you are of course able to push to appeal against any decisions which have been made.
You may need to provide certain circumstantial evidence to help bolster your case should the SLC feel that you have not provided enough information initially – this applies to a wide range of different circumstances, so always make sure you back yourself up with a paper trail as well as with digital records.
The quickest way to start an appeal will be in writing – as this is an escalated concern. You can either download, print and fill in a form to send to the SLC directly, or you can email the team via [email protected] with as much information as possible as to why you would like to appeal against a decision that has been made. Make sure you advise the type of student finance you have applied for, why you think a decision that has been made is incorrect, and supply any evidence or additional documents you have available to support your counter-claim. You can attach documents via email or send photocopies via post should you wish to do this.
With five working days of your email or letter arriving, you will receive an acknowledgement from the SLC that your appeal has been received – and within a further ten working days, you will receive a decision as to which action, if any, will be taken. Do make sure you include as many different contact methods as possible, and which you prefer to be contacted via.
Beyond this, you can appeal again – and your second appeal will travel via Head of Service. Even further beyond this, you can also appeal to an Independent Assessor, though do make sure you request that one attend to your appeal the next time you write in.
Beyond appeals against decisions made, you can also complain directly to the SLC regarding the quality of service you have received, whether this relates to missing documents, quality of care or otherwise. You should first and foremost speak to the frontline customer complaints team via phone – as many issues can be addressed and remedied via phone before any further action ever need to be taken – but beyond this, you can write either via email or via post should you wish to make matters formal.
Email: [email protected]
Customer Relations Unit, Student Loans Company, 100 Bothwell Street, Glasgow, G2 7JD.
As with the appeals process, include as much information as possible, and, where necessary, evidence to back up any claims you are making. Once again, the SLC will acknowledge within five working days of receiving your letter or email – and within fifteen working days, you will receive a direct response. You may escalate further to a Head of Service, or request that an Independent Assessor look into the matter for you.
Other Help Available
You don’t have to go it alone when it comes to complaining about student finance. Your own student body or admissions and services department at your college or university may be able to help you understand how the process works, or how to effectively complain about the issues you are experiencing.
Beyond this, your institution may be able to support you financially while your claims are being processed – this, however, will depend entirely upon your personal circumstances and those of the body you are approaching. Do also make sure you speak with your Student Union, too, for further representation and support with any issues you may be facing head on.