The Student Loans Company (SLC) has launched a new, improved student finance application process for returning students and is urging them to apply now to make sure they get their money in time for the start of the next academic year.
Money management is something every student is worried about in today’s economic climate. This is why the SLC has made the application process much easier to complete, with simple instructions and guidance.
Returning students who applied last year for financial support that is not means-tested (not dependent on their parents’ or partner’s household income) should sign and return the form they receive from the SLC. Those who want a means-tested loan or grant can submit their application online at www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance. If a student’s situation has changed since last year, they can find easy-to-understand information and guidance on what funding they are entitled to at www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance.
The SLC is committed to making the student finance application process as quick and easy as possible. To help returning students understand the changes and how they affect them, SLC has produced a short Q&A guide to the new application process for 2011/12 student finance:
Q: What changes have been made to the student finance application process for returning students?
SLC has removed the need for reassessing anyone whose circumstances have not changed and is applying for support not dependent on their parents’ or partner’s household income. If you are in that category, you do not need to fill out an application form. You just need to sign the form SLC sends to you and post it back. Then we can use the details you supplied in your last year’s application to complete the process. However, some returning students may not be eligible. For example, if you suspended your studies, or took a gap year in the previous academic year, then you will need to complete an application form.
If you have had a change of circumstances and this year want to apply for finance dependent on your parents’ or partner’s household income, complete your application online including details of your changed circumstances.
Q: What if I’m a means-tested student?
If your application for financial support depends on your parents’ or partner’s household income, or if you are applying for special support, the process remains the same as last year.
Q: How do the changes affect me?
If your circumstances haven’t changed and the finance you are applying for does not depend on your parents’ or partner’s household income, then the new process means that you do not have to fill out an application. You just need to sign the form SLC sends to you and post it back. For all other returners, the quickest way to fill out and submit your application form is online at www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance.
Q: Why have these changes been made and what benefits do they bring?
The new process is designed to reduce the time and effort it takes to apply for student finance. It also means that this category of returning students can have their applications processed early on, so more time can be devoted to assessing means-tested loans and special support.
Encouraging sponsors to complete applications online generally means that assessments can be processed quicker than sending a paper form, which is of benefit to both you as a student and to SLC.
Q: How long does it take to complete the application process for returning students?
If your circumstances haven’t changed and the finance you are applying for does not depend on your parents’ or partner’s household income, then you just need to sign and return the declaration form sent to you - this should only take a few minutes. You will receive a letter with your declaration form explaining the new process and providing instructions. The application process for other returning students will take the same amount of time as last year.
Q: When should I apply for finance as a returning student?
You can start applying from 14 February. If you miss the deadline, which is 30 June for returning students, you may not receive all your money at the start of the new academic year.
Q: What’s the best way to apply?
Applying online is much quicker and simpler than completing paper forms. You can apply online at www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance
Q: How much information is needed from my parents or sponsor?
You only need to provide new evidence from your parents or sponsor if your circumstances have changed. If this is the case, you should send evidence of your household income for the previous tax year. This will enable SLC to assess how much financial help you are entitled to.
Further information on what evidence is required can be downloaded at www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance
Q: Where do I go for further information on the application process or to apply online?
Please visit www.direct.gov.uk/studentfinance to find out everything you need to know about the process, including what you are entitled to, and to apply online.