Will I have to repay my Student Finance grants or loans? (overpayments)
You are not normally eligible to receive Student Finance after your date of interruption, unless you are interrupting for health reasons (see below). Therefore overpayments might occur in a number of ways:
- If you interrupt part way through a semester period, you will have been overpaid Student Finance because you will have been paid for the whole of the current payment period, but will no longer be in attendance for part of it. If you interrupt on the last day of a Semester or in the following vacation period, your interruption will be dated at the end of this Semester (your last recorded date of attendance). As you will have attended the Semester in full, there should not be any Maintenance Loan overpayment although there will an overpayment of any grants awarded to you.
- If your interruption is backdated due to exceptional circumstances, you will have been overpaid because you will have already received payments for a period that you are now recorded as not being in attendance for
- If you interrupt close to a payment date, Student Finance England (SFE) might not get notified by Queen Mary in time to stop your next payment of Student Finance, which will be an overpayment
If your reason for interrupting is ill-health, as long as you stated this on your interruption form SFE should automatically extend your period of Student Finance eligibility for another 60 days beyond your date of interruption (this is your last date of attendance). However, you would no longer be entitled to receive Student Finance for the period beyond the first 60 days following your date of your interruption and any payments already received for that period would normally be treated as an overpayment.
However, in certain circumstances SFE can exercise discretion to extend your eligibility for Student Finance beyond your period of interruption (and beyond the automatic 60 days funding). If Student Finance England (SFE) approve this, it would mean that continued Student Finance payments would not be treated as an overpayment and would not be recoverable in future. Please read the information below on 'How do I request discretionary funding from SFE' and then Contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about this.
Loan and grant overpayments made during the academic year will be recovered by SFE from future funding entitlements, by reducing your loan or grant entitlement either in the same academic year or a future academic year. If you change course, any overpayment from your previous course can be recovered by reducing your funding for the new course.
SFE will usually write to you to notify you of the overpayment and explain how they intend to recover it. It might take SFE several weeks to write to you, so you may find it helpful to ask a Welfare Adviser to estimate the overpayment amount in the meantime, so you can plan your finances accordingly.
If you feel that a reduction in the next academic year's Maintenance Loan amount would cause you financial hardship, you can ask SFE to consider not reducing your loan amount, and instead to recover the overpayment at the end of the course, under the normal repayment scheme. To request this you would need to complete a SFE Financial Hardship Confirmation form detailing your income and expenses for the academic year ahead, and attaching bank statements and additional documents highlighting your financial commitments and your circumstances, so that SFE can see that you cannot manage financially if the Maintenance Loan is reduced. Please contact a Welfare Adviser who can advise you about making this discretionary application to SFE, and about when to do it.
If you wish to apply for discretionary funding for a period of interruption, you should get advice from a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service. You will usually need several documents to apply. You do not need to have these documents before you contact a Welfare Adviser, but this list might help you prepare your application:
Your own letter to your funding authority should explain:
- What circumstances affected your ability to study effectively
- When your difficulties started and how long they affected you
- How these circumstances affected your ability to study effectively and meant you had to interrupt your studies
- Why you are unable to support yourself financially during your interruption, for example, explaining how your ill health meant you couldn’t work
- What you need funding for during your interruption, for example rent, food, bills, travel to medical appointments, prescription costs, etc.
- Why you need to continue paying for essential costs during your interruption. This is because SFE think that sometimes students may be able to move in with family during an interruption, and then not need to pay for things like rent. However, this is of course not possible for many students, who live independently. It is helpful to explain to SFE why you need to remain in London in rented accommodation. Examples might be that your medical treatment is in London and you need to stay here for that, or you might explain that you are estranged from your family and so you don’t have a family home to move back to, or perhaps you are a mature student who has lived independently for some time.
Your Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service can advise you about this letter, but it can be helpful if you have prepared a draft to show them.
Evidence of your financial hardship, to demonstrate that you need to continue to receive Student Finance during your interruption, for example:
- To help you apply for discretionary Student Finance SFE have produced a Financial Hardship Confirmation Form which asks you to complete information about your income, expenses and debts. There is also a blank page on the form for you to explain to SFE why you have had to interrupt, and why you are now unable to work or to access any alternative income.
- You will also need to send supporting documents with your form such as bank statements for the most recent three months, as well as evidence of your financial obligations such as a tenancy agreement showing your rent amount, copies of any bills that are due, etc.
- You should be able to download the Financial Hardship Confirmation Form from your student finance online account but if you can’t, contact a Welfare Adviser for advice or contact SFE and ask them to send you a copy. A Welfare Adviser can help you complete the form, or check your form before you send it off.
- A letter from a professional person or agency to confirm the difficulties that you had, the effect they might have had on your ability to study effectively and, if applicable, that you are not currently able to work due to your difficulties.
This letter might be from a doctor, other health professional or a counsellor. If you are getting evidence from a doctor, you should ask for a ‘fit note’. This is an official document which confirms your limited capability for work. It can cover a future period as well as a past period. You should ask your GP to confirm your limited capability for work for as long a period as they feel able to.
If you have not received help or support from a professional, a letter from a friend or family member who knows about your difficulties may be fine.
Your Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service can help you decide who might be the best person to write this letter for you.
- A letter from your Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service. This letter is important because it will outline the aspects of your case that meet the guidance and regulations used by funding authorities to assess applications for additional periods of study.
If you have received a letter from SFE saying that they have overpaid you and asking you to repay the overpayment, get advice from a Welfare Adviser as soon as possible to try and avoid the overpayment being deducted from your ongoing entitlement to Student Finance.
The documents you will need to ask SFE not to treat the payment as an overpayment are broadly similar to the ones listed above (How do I request discretionary funding from SFE?), but a Welfare Adviser can explain exactly what you will need.
After you withdraw, you will no longer be entitled to receive Student Finance.
Queen Mary will do an online notification of your change of circumstances to Student Finance England (SFE) if you withdraw during the academic year. This normally happens within two weeks of you submitting your withdrawal of study form to the Student Enquiry Centre.
To avoid accruing overpayments of Student Finance, you could contact SFE yourself to let them know that you have left your course. SFE should then stop any future payments of Student Finance while awaiting the official change of circumstance notification and confirmation of leaving date from Queen Mary. You may be asked by SFE to repay any portion of your Student Finance that you have already received, which was paid for a period after your date of withdrawal. Contact a Welfare Adviser for advice about this.
If you withdraw after the end of the academic year, i.e. during the summer vacation, Queen Mary won’t report this to SFE. SFE will know you have withdrawn because Queen Mary won’t confirm that you have enrolled at the start of the next academic year. Therefore if you withdraw after the end of an academic year, you should not be asked to repay any Student Funding for that academic year.
Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans are added together to make up your overall student loan account balance. You will need to make loan repayments once you are earning a minimum amount of money a year, from the April after you withdraw. The minimum earnings amount varies depending on when you started your course. For more information see the student loan repayment pages.
If you receive Student Finance England Maintenace Loan and/or grants, you will only have to repay the portion that covers the period from the date you have been deregistered. Contact a Welfare Adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service if you need advice about your options.
If you are deregistered after the end of the academic year because you have failed your exams and have no further attempts, Queen Mary won’t report this to SFE, and you shouldn’t incur any overpayment of Student Finance.
Law, regulations and policies can change quickly. The information on our website is given in good faith and has been carefully checked but QMUL cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. QMUL is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites which are provided for further information.