Student loans: Online accounts to undergo overhaul in 2020

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The government is promising an overhaul of how graduates are able to access their student loan accounts online.

A new online repayment service will launch in 2020, offering graduates more up-to-date balance information, the Department for Education said.

The move aims to modernise the Student Loans Company (SLC) repayment system.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the changes would make it easier for students to “understand their balance” and “manage their loan”.

To prevent overpayments, the government is also urging graduates to switch from salary deductions to direct debit towards the end of their loan.

Universities minister Chris Skidmore said: “With more and more people enjoying the benefits of a university education, it’s only right that graduates have easy access to the information they need about repaying their student loan.

“I urge all graduates to use this new service and to join the direct debit scheme as they approach the end of their loan to ensure a smooth end and not repay more than they should.”

An SLC online repayment website does currently exist, but the new repayment service will have more up-to-date information than graduates are currently able to access, the Department for Education said.

The first annual statement on your student loans arrives the April after you graduate. These will now be online, unless a paper alternative is needed.

It’s at this point the cost of a university education, and what you’re expected to contribute, becomes visible.

From April 2020 that will be 9% of everything you earn over £26,575.

Graduates can already log onto their student finance account to check their balance and make payments – but a shift to weekly updates based on government tax records should reduce the risk of paying too much interest by mistake.

The new service will largely replace annual paper statements, the Department for Education said.

However, those who prefer the existing paper statements will still be able to receive them.

University tuition fees in England now stand at up to £9,250 a year. Students are able to get a government loan to cover the cost, as well as borrow money for living costs.

From April next year, graduates will only need to start paying back their loans once they are earning £26,575 a year.

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