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Student Finance England...

Discussion in 'Thinking of teaching' started by merlin25, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. merlin25

    merlin25 New commenter

    I'm interested in hearing about other people's experiences with
    Student Finance England. I have found them pretty terrible. Firstly,
    there's the phone with a maze of recorded messages, all basically saying
    to look at their website. There's no email address. They don't tell you
    when you can expect a decision. And if you don't fit into the standard
    "template", you can basically forget it.
    What has everyone else found?
  2. merlin25

    merlin25 New commenter

    I'm interested in hearing about other people's experiences with
    Student Finance England. I have found them pretty terrible. Firstly,
    there's the phone with a maze of recorded messages, all basically saying
    to look at their website. There's no email address. They don't tell you
    when you can expect a decision. And if you don't fit into the standard
    "template", you can basically forget it.
    What has everyone else found?
  3. Literally just got my message saying I got the loan I requested. It was fine for me to be honest, but perhaps that was because I went straight to the website. I will say that the website is poorly designed and it is difficult to make out what you can ask for etc (I'm a EU student who lived here for 7 years, doing a PGCE, not easy to sort it out in the website!) so I went via the TDA website, which is much clearer and it was ok.

    The loan calculator is quite helpful in acerting what you are entitled to. For anyone interested, it is here:
    Once you do your application online it is really clear and easy, they give you time estimates and tell you exactly what you should be doing next.... the problem is getting there!
  4. Unfortunately they are awful, merlin25.
    They have good days and bad days. Sometimes they can deal with things quickly and sometimes they take forever.
    I am currently in the final year of my undergraduate degree and it switched over to SFE in my first year. It was an ABSOLUTE nightmare. Nobody got their money on time and they were so disorganised. They wrote to us aplogising saying it was because it was their 'first year' and they had an influx of applications. Since then they have been fine and I havent had to call them once. I'm really hoping when I apply for finance for my PGCE this year it's going to go smoothly! Is this your first time applying for finance with SFE? They probably can't process new applicants properly haha!
    And about the contact thing - again, they are useless. They are just unwilling to help. But once you phone them and you get through. KEEP THEM THERE, don't lose them. I was on the phone to them numerous times in my first year and the staff were rude, obnoxious, and blamed ME for losing my parents paperwork! I sent them recorded delivery and they signed them! They eventually sent them back 2 years later!
    All in all they are incompetent and they can't deal with anything too complicated. I wish you the best of luck with them, though, keep at it!
    P.S. Do you live anywhere near Darlington?? I think that's where there main office is! In forums I joined some people actually went into the offices there and gave in their paperwork... might be quicker?? Or can't you give paper applications anymore?
  5. StarbabyCat

    StarbabyCat New commenter

    My experience with them has actually been very good. Its far far easier than the paper application that I had to fill out to my local authority back in 2005 (many, many moons ago when fees were £1,750!). I remember they constantly sent it back to me because I or my parents had missed something. This time it only took an hour or so, and because I'm 25/ a mother it was based on my partner's income and I just filled it out for him!
    Although I know that last year my sis had terrible trouble getting her PGCE funding because she'd stated that she had not yet graduated (which was true, she was in her final year) and it completely confused the system and it took MONTHS (and tonnes of calls/letters) to sort out. Though she did get her money in time.
  6. So far ....not good. I started out hopefully with my online application which has now frozen (continuously, for more than 4 weeks). I phoned them and they made no attempt to correct the online application and said they would send a paper version. Paper version did not arrive. I phoned. "you must allow ten (TEN!) working days for the paper copy to arrive.." Ten working days, how was it being sent, ocean-liner via New York?! Still did not arrive;I phoned again. They sent again, this time arriving in 4 working days.
    "use the accompanying notes to help you fill in the form".....no accompanying notes.
    I phone. Nice young man directed me to the online notes.
    I have now sent off the paper copy and am waiting the minimum six weeks, so who knows.

    Thank goodness I started early!
  7. This was my experience when I first applied back in 2006. It wasn't straightforward at all. Now I'm applying for my PGCE year it seems like it's going to be the same. I've completed my part of the application fairly easily enough, but I'm under 25 and my parents income is assessed and the paper work for that is proving to be a major hassle to sort out.
  8. I have mixed experiences. I think its made easier because I am over 25 and going for a PGCE.

    A few weeks ago I started an online application, but there were issues at the institution and the SFE didn't have the course code. So after emailing the uni, I was advised to ring SFE and I did. Unfortunately the guy didn't have a clue what I was trying to explain and on top of that my online account was totally frozen and still is. He seemed totally incapable and couldn't even advise me about how to resolve the online account. He basically said, deal with the uni as I'm not sure what to do! I was tempted to ring back and try to get someone else, as in the past I haven't had any problems.

    Thankfully, the uni had sent me a paper copy of the form I needed, as they advised me it seems to work more efficiently. They were right, I sent it off and there were no problems and I've now received my entitlement letter. I think its been about 3 weeks since I sent the form, so thats pretty good turn-around in my opinion.

    My online account is still frozen as far as I know, but I guess I don't need it right now. My partner had quite good experiences too and he did all his online.

    I imagine they don't deal with emails for security purposes. Although it does make our life difficult at times, and you're right, the recorded messages are very confusing, its probably the safest way to deal with it all.

    Hope you get yours sorted
  9. 1. Apply online end March 2011. Website confusing but managed to negotiate it. Sent off birth / marriage certs as requested.
    2. Several weeks later receive certificates back. Several weeks after this receive letter asking for them again (no reason given). Re-send them.
    3. Receive letter suggesting we may qualify for help with childcare but we need to send children's birth certificates and proof of outgoings etc. Send these.
    4. End May by now. Check website to find application cancelled. Call SF, slightly hysterical, to be told that because I didn't use my old student loan ref nbr - FROM 17 YEARS AGO WHEN I WAS LAST A STUDENT my application had been cancelled and I will need to re-apply. Oh, and they can't find any of our birth certificates.
    5. Weep copiously and demand to speak to manager. Explain that I do not have my old ref number from 17 years ago, because I paid the loan off and the account was closed. Eventually after much wrangling, they agree to reinstate application. Certificates still lost. We are not eligible for child care costs because we earn too much, which is fine, but THEY SUGGESTED WE APPLY FOR THEM, NOT US, AND WE STATED OUR INCOME WHEN WE APPLIED ONLINE ALL THOSE MOONS AGO.
    6. Several weeks pass. Children's certificates are returned but mine are still lost, because "they went to a different department". No decision made on whether I qualify for a maintenance grant. Without this I cannot afford to study.
    7. Lose patience. It's June now. E-mail the complaints department complaining about delays. Receive reply to state that as I have complained, the file has been passed to "customer services" and I will receive a reply in 28 days. Point out that my complaint is about the length of time taken to process claim, and by passing it to "customer services" they are only making matters worse. Person on end of phone hangs up on me.
    8. Do research online, discover all the problems people have had with SF in the past. Contact MP to explain situation.
    9. Within a week, receive "lost" birth certificate and offer of finance.
    Nothing on this earth would ever induce me to deal with that company again.
  10. I found it quite easy and the responce was fast!!! I did apply for it on the 28th of December 2011 as I anticipated the new year rush.
    I found the more supporting evidence I submitted, the more money I was offered with the only hiccup along the way, my reference number was wrong . this lead me into the maze of options where i countiuned to press 0 untill it redirected me to an operator.
    From then on its been plain sailing, with my loans and grants offer increasing twice.
    My advice is beat the rush!!!!
    If you didn't; expect delays and complications.
  11. sparkleshine

    sparkleshine New commenter

    Submitted my app in January, had it approved. I sent the required evidence in with the app so it was done pretty quickly. They aren't doing too badly this year.

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