by Lauren Potts
A SALFORD University student faced eviction from halls of residence last month after the Student Loan Company failed to process his loan application and pay his first instalment.
Robert Steventon, 19, is still waiting for his student loan to come through having spent his first semester at university living off hand-outs from relatives and short term loans to cover living expenses.
“I originally applied in March – way before the deadline – but when I hadn’t heard anything by September I began to get worried,” said Robert.
The Student Loan Company informed Robert that they had not yet confirmed his identity, a process which a spokesman for the company said should only take an average of six weeks to process.
When it became apparent that Robert was in the remaining one per cent of the nation’s students left without their loans, he was forced to borrow money from relatives due to demands for rent payment from his halls of residence.
Robert said: “I was lucky enough to have family that were in a position to help out, but I’ve heard horror stories of people who have had to drop out of university altogether because they can’t afford it.
There is so much other stress to deal with in your first year of university, I shouldn’t have to worry about supporting myself as well.”
Ralph Seymour-Jackson, chief executive of the Student Loans Company, said:
“We continue to receive large volumes of applications every day but we recognise that there have been issues with processing and we are working hard to ensure that this does not happen again next year.”
Just last week, Robert’s identity was finally confirmed after a period of eight months with an apology from the company, who admitted the process had been delayed considerably.
Robert, who is studying music, has been told that his loan will be with him by next semester, but he remains sceptical.
“If it comes through in the next few weeks I will be pleased, but I’m not optimistic,” he said. “I’ve completely lost faith in them.”
This year has seen a record-breaking surge in applicants to higher education which is thought to have been fuelled by young people hoping to avoid unemployment during the recession.
This is also the first year the SLC has processed both grant and loan applications.