Students facing loan applications delay

HUNDREDS of students in Suffolk are facing money worries because of lengthy delays in processing their loan applications, it has emerged.Suffolk County Council is facing a four-month backlog of applications, leaving frustrated students unsure of how much financial support they will receive, just weeks before the start of the new term.

By Jonathan Barnes

HUNDREDS of students in Suffolk are facing money worries because of lengthy delays in processing their loan applications, it has emerged.

Suffolk County Council is facing a four-month backlog of applications, leaving frustrated students unsure of how much financial support they will receive, just weeks before the start of the new term.

Most students rely on loan support, which is paid on a sliding scale up to £4,195 a year, to budget for their living costs and many also receive support to pay tuition fees of more than £1,000.


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The Conservative-run authority has apologised for the delays and said it had taken on extra resources to clear the outstanding applications before the start of term.

But students and their parents have expressed their anger at the situation and the opposition Labour group on the council said there was "no logical reason" why the process should take so long.

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One parent from Ipswich, whose daughter starts university next month, said: "We have not heard a thing, despite her application being sent to the LEA in May.

"My daughter's starting university next month and she doesn't know how much loan she is going to get, so she is struggling to budget for her studies.

"I phoned up to complain and spoke to someone who said they had to interact with a national system and did not have the resources to do the job quickly.

"We are very unimpressed – this department has one job to do and they are singularly failing to do it. Other county councils have already finished processing their applications, so why haven't Suffolk?"

The county council's website said last night the student support department was dealing with forms received from continuing students on May 25 and new applications on May 5 – almost four months ago.

Kevan Lim, county councillor and communications officer for the Labour group, said: "This makes no sense and there is no logical reason why students should be waiting this long.

"We would be very unhappy if there were lengthy delays as a result of the administration's freeze on recruitment and if that is the case we would want the situation assessed immediately.

"It is not fair for students to be waiting anything like this period of time to hear about their loans and support grants, just weeks before they are due to start university. We will be looking into this situation."

Sue Sida-Lockett, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for customer service and efficiencies, said: "Unfortunately there is a current backlog of applications.

"The Student Support team are working hard to ensure that fully completed application forms are being processed as quickly as possible.

"We have also taken action to obtain additional resources to speed up the assessment of these outstanding applications. Our aim is to clear the backlog before the start of term."

New students had been asked to get their applications in by April 29 if they chose not to supply any financial information on their form, or July 1 otherwise. Continuing students were asked to get their forms in by May 27.

The council said students can help the team to process their applications as quickly as possible by ensuring that their forms are completed fully and accurately.

Those who have not yet received advice on their applications can find information on the progress of applications online at www.studentfinancedirect.co.uk.

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