If you receive Student Finance, you’ll have some idea of how it all works: the SLC — the Student Loan Company — provides student loans in the UK. The SLC assesses how much you can get in student loans, based on your household income, and that’s how much you’re entitled to receive.
The fact that it’s “household” income means your parents’ income, or your partner’s income, gets taken into account. The calculation is based on income from the previous tax year — so, for 2020, that means the 2018-2019 tax year is what the SLC looks at.
That all makes sense — your household income probably won’t change all that much from one year to the next. Sure, your partner might get a small raise, or your mum or your dad might get a new position that pays a little better. All in all, though, under ordinary circumstances, these fluctuations aren’t going to make a significant difference.
But that’s “under ordinary circumstances”. What happens if something extraordinary and unexpected happens — for example, a pandemic, with national lockdowns and economic disruptions causing the biggest recession since World War II?
Well, that’s when things start to change pretty seriously. This past year has impacted people’s lives significantly — and not just our lives, but our livelihoods. Some of us have caught COVID-19, and some of us have seen what it does to our friends and family. Even those of us who are a little more removed from the immediate health crisis have seen the knock-on effects in our lives.
That brings us back to the SLC, and to income assessment. The SLC won’t hold you to your household income from last year if there’s been a significant change in your circumstances — which means you might be eligible for more funding than you’re getting.
You can request a reassessment if your household income has dropped, or is expected to drop, by 15% or more. Instead, you’ll be assessed based on an estimate of your household income for the 2020-21 tax year.
Because it’s an estimate, you’ll eventually have to provide evidence that the estimate was accurate. That means proof from your parents, or your partner, to show that the estimated household income was correct. If not, you might have to pay back some of the funding you received, if it turns out you weren’t entitled to it.
You can find more details direct from the SLC. You can check out the SLC’s main page on the Gov.uk website, or see the information for students that Student Finance England has provided. Or, if you’d prefer, you can talk to Student Services at your university, who will be happy to help you further and point you in the right direction.