Last Friday, we published a piece reminding our readers that potentially thousands of graduates are owed money by the Student Loans Company (SLC) in overpaid student loans. Money that will be added back to the total repayment figure, yes, but as we pointed out: it's going to take decades to pay that back in full, so you might as well get a nice little cash injection now.
Though the notion of a government-owned body genuinely paying people back might sound too good to be true, it isn't. After we published the article we received a load of tweets from readers who had made claims with SLC, with some saying they're due a back payment of up to £1,200, and others getting enough for a few beers (there were also a few unfortunate souls who weren't owed anything).
I spoke to some of them about all that money. If you haven't yet called, head here to find out how.
SOPHIE, 32, £425
"I won £425. It's not bad, is it? I was expecting £28. I'm in a group chat with some friends and someone mentioned the scheme in there yesterday. Then I saw people on Twitter talking about it – I had five minutes, so I called them. I had to change my address anyway, so I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone. It's such a fucking faff calling them – I have no idea how much I have to pay back, and I started paying back ten years ago. It's such a fortress, and I think they’re relying on that. The guy on the phone said he'd had a few people each out because of the VICE article.
"He also said, 'This is going to go back on to your loan.' But I said:,'You know, there's coronavirus and I might be dead tomorrow.' Ordinarily, the first thing I would buy with something like this is a holiday. My sister is a student at the moment, so I might treat her to something."
SAM, 28, £529
"I shared the story with all my mates on WhatsApp, and some people have been paid about £600, which is unbelievable. None of my friends had any idea about it. I got £529. I’m pretty buzzing about that. I've been paying back my loan for four years. I hadn't heard anything from the Student Loans Company and I’ve been living in the same house in London since I graduated. I was skiing last year and had a pretty bad skiing injury – I had surgery on my knee and that wiped me out. I missed the entire holiday. So I think I might use the money to go skiing again…?"
CHRIS, 37, £821
"It was a nice surprise getting the money. I was slightly conscious of the fact that I will have to pay the money back eventually, but when I weighed up, 'Well, if I'm going to be paying my loan back for an extra few months in 15 years versus paying off my overdraft right now,' it was a no brainer really. I sent the scheme on to my girlfriend too and she got £130 or something – so a grand between us.
"The Student Loans Company never wrote to me. I logged into my account – because they give you a record of the correspondence – and there was nothing other than statements going in and out and a few courtesy letters about policy changes, but absolutely nothing about overpayments. I thought it was unlikely I'd get anything, but thought it was worth a go. I was quite surprised, because the lady on the phone read out how much I'd been overcharged and the first one was like £2. She said, 'Don't worry, it gets better.' The next one was £5. Then the next one like £200. Then all of a sudden there was £400. I sat there with a calculator totting it up. It was a good afternoon."
HARRY, 30, £213
"I got £213. I wasn't aware of the scheme before – absolutely not. I started paying back my loan in 2012. Unless anything changes with the amount of money that I bring in, I don’t think I’ll ever pay my loan back. I'm happy to take that £200 now. I have a stag-do that I need to pay for, so I think I’m going to pay for that. We’re going to Bournemouth and I live in Edinburgh, so I need to get a flight to Southampton and then a train to Bournemouth. We’re all hiring a house, so it’ll end up costing a lot."
ROZ, 30, £636
"I had absolutely no idea this thing existed. My boyfriend mentioned it and I wasn't even going to do it – I thought it wouldn't work for me. But 20 minutes after messaging, he told me he got £240. The fact it happened to him convinced me to make the call. If he hadn’t messaged, I would have assumed it would have been really hard to get the money back – it sounds too good to be true that you'll ever get money back from the government. But it was super easy.
"I got £640. I’m going to be really boring and use the money as a deposit for a new flat I want to move into. I don’t have any savings or anything like that, so this feels like the perfect time."