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Student turned tables on £2k loan demand

Medical student Alec Beaney at UEA in Norwich.; Photo: Bill Smith

Medical student Alec Beaney at UEA in Norwich.; Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

A UEA medical student has won a funding fight with the Student Loans Company and turned a demand for him to pay them nearly £2,000 into a £600 windfall for himself.

Alec Beaney, 20, was told by the SLC that he had been overpaid in grants. It withdrew his maintenance grant and significantly reduced his loan.

But after a review into Mr Beaney’s case requested by Norwich South MP Simon Wright, it turned out that the SLC owed Mr Beaney £641.

Mr Beaney, who is in the 2nd year of a five-year medical degree, said he was already working part-time to make ends meet, and had considered giving up his studies.

Now living with a group of friends in the Golden Triangle, he said: “Following Mr Wright’s intervention, I was informed that not only did I not owe the SLC the £1,996 that it was originally trying to claim, but that in fact I was owed £641.

“It means my money will go a little further, and it takes a huge amount of pressure off me and means my finances are not preying on my mind.

“The finance officer at the UEA was very helpful and I think having an MP on my case gave me the extra voice I needed. I would not have received such a response had it not been for his support.”

Mr Wright said the SLC’s claim that Mr Beaney had been overpaid nearly £2,000, when in fact he was owed £641, “beggared belief”.

He said: “I would always urge students to contact their MP if they need assistance in their dealings with the SLC. It may be that we can’t always help to resolve the situation but sometimes, as with Mr Beaney, we can.”

Mr Beaney had run into problems with the SLC in September 2009 when he was told he had received an over-payment due to providing incomplete documents for his 2009/10 application.

A spokesman for the SLC said: “We are sorry Alec suffered difficulties with his student finances. This was due to a number of factors including a change of personal circumstances between his first and 
second year of university, which led to his loan entitlement being wrongly assessed.

“This has been resolved and the money has been placed in his account.”

If you have been experiencing similar problems to Mr Beaney you can contact Mr Wright at 2 Douro Place, Norwich, NR2 4BG, email office@simonwright.org.uk or call 01603 627660.

Have you got a story about the UEA? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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